Saturday, January 31, 2009

How We Got Into Camping

(Alternate Title: People work at camps? Year round? Full-time? Really?)

Yes, that was MY statement, seven years and a few months ago. Does that surprise you? :)

Seven years and one month ago, Hubby (in his pre-Hubby days) began working at a Christian camp in southern Ohio as their full-time, year-round food service director. So you can see from my question that this turn of events must have come as something of a surprise to me. *ahem* UNDERSTATEMENT!

Seven and a half years ago, Hubby and I were enaged (full story here). He was planning on being a pastor and I was planning on being a pastor's wife. Our wedding date was set for May 25, 2002. And then God changed our plans, as He often does. Hubby heard about a job at the aforementioned camp in Ohio, had a couple years experience in food service at college, was 'getting tired'- his own words- of being in college after transferring once, switching majors, etc...and after praying about it & talking to his cousin Amy who also worked at the camp (and talking it over with me, of course, giving me the opportunity to make the above statement)... He decided that it would be a nice change of pace, and he could continue to work toward his degree through correspondence while working at camp.

One small problem remained. Remember how I mentioned our, you know, WEDDING??? Well, after we were to be married, I would still have two semesters of college left- one semester of elementary education classes, and one semester of student teaching. And it would be much easier to finish those classes at Faith, where I was already attending, instead of trying to switch to another state's teaching standards or another school's course requirements. So. After considering all the factors, and through the shedding of many tears, we postponed our wedding seven months until January 4, 2003. (Faith graciously allowed me to do my student teaching in Kentucky, near the camp, so we wouldn't have to wait a whole YEAR longer to get married.)

At the time, it was the hardest decision I had ever made.

Looking back, I have to remind myself that we even postponed the wedding because I don't think of it often- now it seems like our wedding was always planned for January of 2003.

So, on January 7th, 2002, Hubby headed to his new job & home at the camp, and I headed back to college, hundreds of miles from Ohio. I'm sure Heather could tell you stories of all the whining I did about this situation on the way to and from our jobs at Culver's. :) EVENTUALLY (it seemed like forever), we were able to get married, and we began to settle into the 'routine' of camp life.

For those of you who might know about as much about the camping ministry as I did a few years ago, I'll let you in on a little secret. The key to surviving a camp summer or even a busy retreat season, is FLEXIBILITY. At camp, you are there to serve a lot of different people all at the same time, and you never know when a mealtime will be changed or a sudden power outage will cause you to have to figure out what you can serve for lunch using only 8 gas burners & 2 gas ovens. Or, just speaking hypothetically here, you may have to postpone your celebration of Valentine's Day with your brand-new hubby of 6 weeks when you have 300 teens in for a retreat and you lose power because of a horrible ice storm and trees are being uprooted all over the camp and could kill people if they leave the buildings...but that's a story for another day.

When we got married, let me just say that I was possibly the antithesis of flexibility. NOT my strong point. :) When things changed suddenly, I was not (pardon the pun) a happy camper. I like to think that God has changed and grown me in this area, and that I would respond differently to certain situations if I were put in them today...but I honestly can't say for sure.

What I can say for sure is that over the last 6 years that I've been involved in full-time camp ministry alongside my husband, God has placed a love in my heart for the camping ministry. I love all the contacts that God has sent our way through the camp, all the people we've met through summer camp, retreats, volunteer work groups, and camp conferences. When I think of heaven, I think of all the churches we've been a part of and all the weeks of family camp and summer camp and camp conference all rolled into one- all of those people (and SO many more) united in God's presence with no sin and only one singular goal- to praise HIM every moment.

So, I guess what I'm saying is- Come to camp. It's like Heaven.

**Disclaimer for all of you theologians out there- that last sentence was not a theological assertion- it was just a joke. I doubt we'll be singing the "Shark song" in Heaven.**


Anonymous said...

Camp is wonderful. So many great memories of being a camper, working at camp.

I can understand the difficulties of getting married before finishing school. Ryan and i were both going to school at one point, it was hard but there were many times I wondered if we should wait till we were finished. I am glad it all turned out, God sure surprises us when our plans go differently.

Anonymous said...

Ah, another January pre-graduation bride! We were married January '99 during the worst blizzard northern Indiana had seen in over 20 years. We had planned to get married the following summer, but after having me overseas for a semester, my husband (then fiance) couldn't wait any longer. The college I attended had a weird rule about weddings. Since I was only 21, I wasn't permitted to get married in the middle of a semester, so we quickly threw together a wedding over Christmas break, just 2 months after I returned to the States. Oh, the things I would do differently now ... But I don't regret a thing! Isn't that weird?