Emerge and Restore

Exploring faith, God, and church in the 21st century...

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Location: Kansas, United States

Friday, July 15, 2005

Time for Camp

I'll be gone until July 25th, working with my wife at a small camp deep in the middle of a Kansas wheatfield. I love camps. Once in high school, I attended 9 camps in one summer. But Silver Maple Camp has always been my favorite. Nowadays I only have time for one camp, and while there are many I could work at, this is where I'll always return. There's a sense in which I grew up there: my father directing one session, and me following him around as the resident "camp brat." There's a sense in which my faith started there: introducing me to many of the most inspiring Christians I've ever known, introducing me to God outside rigid church structure. As I recently told someone, if I had to choose what I learned about faith and God at SMC and what I learned earning a ministry degree, I'd have to choose camp. There's a sense in which my life as an adult started there: I met a girl there when we were children, and we began a camp romance as teenagers. I asked her to marry me standing on the dock overlooking the camp's tiny lake. And five years ago we said our vows in the camp's beat up old chapel, standing in the exact same spot where I'd first met her years before, too young to know our paths would lead us together, give us two beautiful daughters, and embark us on an intense/confusing/exciting journey that we've really only begun.

I'm about to go enjoy the best week of my year. See you guys later. God bless.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes, what a wonderful story. Great post.

4:53 AM  
Blogger Apostle John said...

I appreciated this post, having once operated a church's camp facility.

5:33 AM  
Blogger David U said...

Neal, please greet Brother Maple for me, and if Ted and Paula come over while you are there, please give them my love. What a family of Christian servants!

Have a great time at Camp!


11:03 AM  
Blogger Rachel O'Donnell said...

Well. I am jealous. I wish I was there.

I have nothing but fond memories of SMC.

Sitting on the steps singing and actually listening to the words of the songs I'd sung a million times and being moved to tears... and it was fine because it was pitch dark and no one could see you cry. Sun burning my feet so bad that they had to stick out the end of the bunk for half the week. Singing just for the sake of SINGING.

I'll never forget talking to Jenni Downs on the way to chapel... about Phillip and the Ethopian and she told me that me saying "I don't know enough of the Bible" wasn't a good excuse... then the giant lump in my throat during the entire church service because I knew she was right.

Remember singing "humble yourself and the sight of the lord" when the propane tank (or whatever it was) exploded and we all thought Jesus had come back? lol.

I miss SMC. I want to take Dirk out there some day. I want him to go with me so he can see what it is about.

8:45 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

There's lust something primal about getting away from all the world's distractions, forming a new community and getting your mind on Christ (and bad food and sunburns and pranks...)

Seriously, I just came back from a "camp" (at Hardin-Simmons University) and I think I was changed as much if not more than the students.

I ran Boy Scout camps for 10 years and while those were very formative and beneficial...there's still something about encountering Jesus in His nature...

Thankd for your kinds words re: number one son's ordination!

5:57 PM  
Blogger Neal W. said...

Johnny, Ted, and Paula all say "Hello". Wonderful people.

I remember that day we thought Jesus had come back: all 200 of us crammed into the little chapel singing our hearts out, and a B-1 bomber doing training excercises over what was supposed to be a deserted wheat field broke the sound barrier just a few hundred feet above our heads. My hearing's never been the same. Ahhh, memories. :-)

1:50 PM  

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