Are there any Baptists in the house? (a few scattered whistles and handclappings only on beats one and three arise from the very back of the room.) Great, I'm not alone! Got two words for you: Church Camp.
(Disclaimer: This story is not meant to discriminate against any other denominations. I simply haven't been to their church camps! Please don't be offended. I mean it's not like we're discussing Calvinism here!)
Church Camp. These words should instantly bring forth memories of cabins with questionable air-conditioning, kitchens with questionable food, counselors with questionable sanity, and T-shirts of questionable design-quality. But it was fun, wasn't it?
At least, we all said so on the post-camp testimony night. It was that once-a-year event that everyone looked forward to, and then spent the next year recovering from. Well, I went twice as a camper, and as such, was vaguely troubled by a few things I noticed.
Unfortunately, they kept us so busy, I didn't' have time to firm up any opinions until I went back as a counselor. Ahh, that fateful summer. I remember it well: The year was 1996. I think. I've managed to block most of it out. My singing group at Dallas Baptist University had been drafted to serve as recreation leaders for no less than nine church camps in a row.
Yes, I said (wrote) nine. Believe you me, I had plenty of time to firm up those opinions! Here are some of the things I noticed: At some point, the music leader or the camp pastor will be thrown into the pond, lake, river, pool, or whatever body of water happens to be nearby. If there's something in the cabin hard enough to chip a tooth on, someone will prove it. A song sung during the nightly service achieves some sort of higher worship plane if everyone stands, holds hands, and sways back and forth.
No matter how many times you patiently explain to junior high kids that an entire roll of toilet paper WILL NOT flush down the toiled intact, there's always a Doubting Thomas. Reading the book of Genesis aloud will put a cabin of hyperactive 6th graders asleep in no time at all. Really. If you're desperate, use Leviticus.
It is possible to "fall in love" and break-up with 19 people during the same week. The amount of energy displayed at 2:00 a.m. is inversely proportional to the amount displayed during Game Time next day. "Taking Time-Out" is not an effective discipline tool. Pulling a kid's sweat pants all the way up around his neck, until only his head shows, and then tying them off, is much more effective. For tips on this technique, contact my brother Jason, who received the "Wedgie of the Year" award for that one.
The thermometers that say it's only 95 degrees outside are lying to you.
Yes, they still make Kool-Aid.
No, you didn't bring enough Band-Aids.
The "questionable sanity" theory besmirches the mental ability of counselors everywhere.
Who started that vicious rumor anyway?
Sometime, somewhere in the camp, someone will get up and sing the song "Friends" by Michael W. Smith.
Somehow just saying (writing) number 12 doesn't do it justice. PEOPLE, I HEARD THAT SONG AT ALL NINE CHURCH CAMPS! I nearly went stark, raving mad, like my friend Steve, whose suitemate in college put "Friends" on his CD player, hit "repeat," locked his doors, and left for the summer. Steve stood it for two hours before he called security and gave them two options: unlock the door, or I break it down.
By the last camp, I had had enough. I couldn't take it anymore. I decided to write a parody of the song. I did so. With the help of my singing group, who added drama to make it more of a live "music video," we performed it on Friday night before a packed house. Someday, I will post it on the site as Real Audio so you can hear it. For now, here are the words. Use your imagination for the music and enjoy!
Packing up my little suitcase, filled with all my dirty clothes,
Filthy socks and broken shoelace, the aroma still lingers in my nose.
And it just won't close, as always, it won't even seem to budge.
And the shorts that I've worn since Monday
Let's just say that they've got quite a smudge!
And friends are friends 'til Friday, when the bus takes us all home,
"I promise that I'll write you" for at least a week or so.
No, we never will forget, even though that we've just met,
That a lifetime's way too long, to live as friends.
This is the romance verse, dedicated to Observation #6.
Here at camp, I've finally found romance, springing from the cabin next door,
And even though I'm Baptist, and I don't dance, I can barely keep my feet upon the floor.
And though she lives across the country, MCI will keep us strong,
And our hearts will be true forever,
At least until something better comes along!
Repeat Chorus. Change keys. Stand up and sway. Pull out your cigarette lighters if you got 'em. Etc., etc., Ad nauseum.
Excuse me, I have to go lie down now. It's just a little too much. I hope you can still eat dinner tonight. Don't forget the Kool-Aid.