What I Learned As A Wimpy 6th Grade Camper

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photo (17)I love the smell of the earth after a rain. You know, that earthy and woodsy smell that drifts up into your nose, and for me stays just long enough to ignite a certain memory.

Certain smells can bring back memories, good or bad. That earthy-after-rain smell brings back a memory of when I was in the 6th grade.

The “Fearsome Foursome” were off on a big summer adventure to a place known as “Camp Carson.” It was me, my two best friends and my cousin whom I still consider a “bestie” even though we are family.  And… even though she convinced me to eat out of her dog dish when we were little. And…even though I cut her bangs clear back to the middle of her head one day. Hey, what are cousins for?

We were headed off to church camp the summer of my 6th grade year. We were going to make crafts, swim, learn about missionaries, and eat great food.  Most of all, we were going to have loads of fun! At least that’s what we were told, and well…that’s what we were expecting.

This was really the first time any of us had been away from our homes for any length of time. And can I say, adjustment issues! I can’t help but smile and chuckle a little when I think back about our grand and glorious adventures at Camp Carson.

What was called Camp Carson years ago, is now called Carson Springs. It’s described on their website as being nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. With its scenic beauty and quiet stillness, Carson Springs is the perfect place to meet God. In 1948, Tennessee Baptists recognized the importance of retreating from the world and seeking God’s presence. Thus, Camp Carson/Carson Springs was born.

No sooner than our feet touched the ground, one of us started crying. This made the other three uneasy, and soon the tears flowed from us all! My secret to the grave who shed that first tear. I’m sure the lips are sealed of the other three also. What seems a little silly and funny now, was very serious to us back then. We were homesick and we wanted to leave. Separating the four of us didn’t help matters. Two of us were placed in a “new” cabin. The other two were in an “old” cabin. The fear of bats and spiders might give you a hint as to which cabin that I was placed in.

Although we voiced our homesickness to counselors and to the ones that served our meals everyday, it fell on deaf ears. I’m sure they thought we would just get over it. We did in a way, but not until the cafeteria ladies told us, “If you girls don’t stop crying, you’re going to dry up into a small spot on this concrete here!” Whatever they meant by that, seemed to do the trick…at least for a little while.

One of us was sneaky, made her way into the office and wrote her dad a letter when we first got there. She told him,”This is not the place we signed up for, please come and get us!” Having been told by a counselor, “You have to get into the pool so we can see if you can swim”, confirmed her need to go home! She had told them, “I do know how to swim, and I don’t want to right now!” They made her get in anyway, which did not set too well with her. Neither did the food. With tears in her eyes she proclaimed, “This is not like my Mama’s food.”  This made the other three of us realize through sniffs of displeasure and while holding our tears at bay, the truth in her revelation. We said, “It’s not like our Mama’s either!” We managed to eat a few bites of the camp food anyway.  We had the promise of a visit to the “Canteen” in the back of our minds. We knew we could survive on candy bars, giant sweet tarts and “Coca-Cola!”

The “Fearsome Foursome” stuck together like glue. Through thick and thin, we would see this to the end!

After a couple of days, I fell into somewhat of a routine at camp. I guess I was a little less traumatized then the other three. Don’t get me wrong, I was still homesick, and joined in on the displeasure we felt from it. We threw wads of wet toilet paper on the bathroom ceiling one night, while a sermon and an altar call was taking place. Our masterpiece rivaled the “Sistine Chapel!”  We had that ceiling looking good. What rebels we were!

Besides our art being displayed on the bathroom ceiling, we did make crafts. Listened to missionaries. We swam, and even made a few friends along the way. But there’s this one thing that I will never forget, or the smell of being in that wonderful moment…being alone with God.

The counselors at camp stressed a “quiet time” with God. Every morning they had us get up early, and walk along the pathways until we found our own quiet place.

I remember walking until I found a rock to sit on. I remember the smell of the earth as I walked. Earthy and woodsy. I settled myself and began to read God’s word and talk with Him. It was there where I first learned the importance of a quiet time.

“My soul, wait in silence for God only, for my hope is from Him. He only is my rock and my salvation, my stronghold; I shall not be shaken. On God my salvation and my glory rest; the rock of my strength, my refuge is in God.” Psalm 62:5-7 NASB

I may not have fully understood what it meant to have a quiet time alone with God. But, as I sat upon the rock of my strength, He was teaching me that He was my salvation, my glory rest and my refuge.

That one particular week in the summer of my 6th grade year, was an introduction to a life time of knowing the importance of sitting alone with my Papa God!

“Thank you Camp Carson for an adventure that the “Fearsome Foursome” will never forget!

I wonder if these ladies were there at Camp Carson in 1971!

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1 Comment

  1. What a great memory and story to look back on and to share with us. God still calls us into that quiet space with him when we are missing something or some one so He alone can satisfy us!

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