Written by Glen Brannon,
Years ago, and I mean years ago, if you would have asked me what I thought about Church Camps I would have told you something along the lines of real men don’t go to Church Camps. I was raised backpacking and climbing here in the Great Northwest and had always made it a point to stay as far away from organized camping as possible. Real outdoorsmen experienced the wonders of nature by themselves or maybe in small groups of close friends. The outdoors was a place best experienced in quiet solitude. Besides, didn’t they sit around the camp fire and have to sing songs at Church Camps?
When I met the wonderful young woman that somehow I would bamboozle into becoming my wife, I was looking forward to showing her what real camping was all about. I had these dreams of climbing mountains and wandering the mountain meadows, walking along happily with the wonderful new person in my life. She was game and excited that she wanted to go camping with me. What I didn’t know was that she was already a camper. She had grown up going to all the Methodist Church Camps, and she was as excited to share her experiences with me, as I was to share mine with her.
During our courting years, my future wife started to mold me into the husband that she wanted. I loved to spend time with her, but she had some rules. One of the rules was that she attended Church. Now I was a good Church going guy, raised in the Church and all that, but at this time in my life there were so many other things to do on Sunday mornings. I mean, wasn’t I supposed to be spreading my wings and trying new things? I wanted to head out into the wilds and spend the night under the stars. Problem was that it was hard to make it to Church in the morning if I was waking up in the wilderness.
Funny thing was that I found that I liked going to Church. I liked the people and I met other men who liked to do what I did. Maybe this God and Church thing wasn’t so bad. But then, the love of my life told me about Church Camping. No way, a man has to have boundaries. So being smarter than I, she merrily went off and had fun without me and I continued to experience nature the way God intended, by myself!
This went on for several years, she spent summers staffing and volunteering at different Church Camps and I tried to make time for my adventures. I found as we started our family that I had less and less time for my sort of camping. I was becoming older and maybe a little bit wiser. At least I had more responsibilities. I found it hard to find time to slip away as we started our family. Don’t take me wrong, I was loving my life! I had a great wife, two great kids, a dog, a house payment and a career, but my back packing gear was starting to look a little neglected gathering dust in the garage.
My wife had always invited me to join her at camp and finally I decided that maybe if I went with her then I will at least be in the right neighborhood. I confess that I first went with a calloused heart. I didn’t want to enjoy myself. But, of course, I did. I found that I didn’t have to go days without a shower to truly enjoy God’s Creation. In fact those lumpy camp beds were pretty comfortable after a long day camping.
Well many more years have gone by, my backpacking gear is getting used more now that the boys have become involved in Scouting, but I am now a dyed in the wool Church Camper. What a great place to experience God’s creation. The Bible tells us to gather together and that where two or more are gathered he is there as well. There is truly something special about Church Camping and I will forever be grateful to my loving wife for dragging this old dinosaur into it. I even howl a little at the camp fires now and then.