What can I say about Camp Ch-Yo-Ca? There are NO words that describe how much this place means to me. My parents actually met at camp back in the day. They dated through 2 summers and then eventually got married (duh!). After they were married & even having us girls, they continued to work at and support camp. My dad worked with the maintenance team and my mom was the "camp nurse." She is NOT a nurse, so this seems a bit odd, but she got the job done. They would move out into the nurse's hut for the summer. Sister Michelle was born in March and they were out there the following summer. However, the next May was when I came along...at the end of the month...and so, we missed that summer.
From the time I was 1 on...we moved into the nurse's hut for 6-8 weeks during the summer. We even took our cat out there with us. Bickey, the attack cat, is famous in his own rights for old time camp alum! What memories we have from being out there! When we were around 6, we started being "campers" and by the time we were in middle school, mom transitioned from nurse to Bible teacher.
Each summer was spent with several weeks being out at camp. By the way, I'll mention that camp is HOT. Like, HOT. There is no AC. The only places with AC are the nurse's hut, director's cabin, and staff room. The rest of us suffer the Louisiana summer, only out of sheer love and devotion to camp!
The summer of 97 is one of my faves as a camper. It was the summer between my Jr and Sr years of HS and the one where Ben "asked me out." June 20, 1997 to be exact. It's a year to remember for SURE!
The summers after my freshman and sophomore years in college, Ben and I (along with MANY life-long friends!) worked on staff for 6 weeks. Those were 2 of the best summers!! What fun we had!!! I was beyond upset when I had to miss the next summer to take classes in order to graduate & get married on time. I was heartbroken.
|messy twister...ranch, mustard, ketchup, relish...oh the smells!|
|messy twister turned into messy slip & slide!|
The summer of 2002...I graduated from college in May and was getting married on June 22. Where was I 2 weeks before my wedding? At camp, of course! I asked if I could come back for one week only (Sr high) and at least get to work that week. Maybe I'm crazy, but it was AWESOME...and I got to work on my tan for the wedding!!
Fast forward to this summer, 2012. Ben earned an extra week of vacation starting this year, so we started thinking how we could use it...and Ch-Yo-Ca came up. We decided that since I was opening the private practice and could adjust my own schedule as needed, it was the perfect time for us to go back to camp in the role as Bible teachers!
High school session was June 17-22, which meant that we would get to spend our 15th "date-a-versary" at the place where it all began! It also meant that our 10th wedding anniversary (June 22) was spent out there. We just had the BEST time. We had GREAT groups of kids...I had Girls cabin 6 and Ben had Boys cabin 2. Most of my girls were in upper high school to some who had just graduated. Ben's boys were all starting their freshman year in HS.
|Ben's boys...Boys Cabin 2|
|My ladies...Girls Cabin 6|
There was so much the same at camp, yet so much that was different all at the same time. It was the perfect blend of old and new.
|Someone teach these girls the flap technique!|
When I was a camper and even when I was on staff, I was blessed with some of THE BEST Bible teacher's out there. To actually BE a Bible teacher was the most intimidating thing! I felt SO inadequate compared to the ones I had had in my past. We stayed in town at Mrs Chrys' house but drove out to camp and spent the majority of everyday out there. We really wanted to see our campers interacting and be there if they needed anything. We loved getting to see them participate in the activities and it was easier to talk to them about them in cabin Bible classes the next day. I'm not sure at how we did as being "Bible teachers" but we were SO blessed to be out there!
It was a surreal moment to realize that we were a part of "the old people." We FELT like it was yesterday that we had been out there...only to realize it had been 10-12 years since we were on staff. OUCH. And then, to realize mid-week that many of the staff and campers had been in MY little bitty day camp cabin 11 years prior really hit hard! They had been 4-8 years old then. LITTLE BITTY.
|Day Campers 2002|
We made 1 trip into town to go to the w@l-m@rts. We got a few things:
-cupcakes & juice boxes for our cabins on the last night. Ben kept insisting that his boys didnt need anything. UMMM...HELLO...they are boys. They need snacks!! I was sure to tell them all that BEN didnt want to feed them and it was all MY doing!!
-we also picked up some rubber snakes. See, one day in Ben's cabin Bible class (in "chapels" in the woods), one of his boys stepped on a snake. A nice long juicy snake that slithered away. Most of the boys tried to chase it, but one boy ended up on top of the bench screaming like a little girl. SO, we got a few rubber snakes at the store and put them in a gift bag for "mail call" on Friday. When one gets a package (or 3 or more letters), they have to perform in front of everyone else. This was GREAT! This young man thought that his mom had sent them and even came to show us what she had done! HA! Well, he figured out that it was us and we had a good time joking with him.
-this trip to the store happened on Thursday, almost the end of camp. I found out that one of my campers didnt have a Bible at camp...I hadnt even realized it (duh!) until she said that she didnt only not have one at camp, but she didnt have one at all. Like, she had NEVER had one. She has the sweetest heart and wants to study the Word, but hasnt been able to. So, while at the mart, I spend a few handfulls of change and picked up a nice Bible for her, hoping she would like it. We didnt get the cheapest (like Ben wanted!), but we got a nice blue leather one that will last her a while. Thursday night's activities lasted LATE into the night (or early into Fri morning), but I was able to give it to her and it is a moment that I will never forget. When she realized what it was, she gasped and folded over the Bible and started sobbing. I am SO not a crier (of course the girls in my cabin would tell you different b/c being "real" with them meant that I cried a lot. Dang it.), but this time the tears just flowed from my eyes. She started SCREAMING about getting a Bible and many of her friends came up and were just as thankful b/c they knew what a big deal this was to her. It seriously was a moment in time that is at the top of my favorite list. She loved the blue and I took it and wrote a note and underlined some verses that she will find as she studies through it. Hearing "you changed my whole life" is not something that happens often and not something that I will ever forget.
We had such a great time being back out at camp and in a new role. Now, we have been campers, staff, and Bible teachers (and I was one of the "little kids" that was toted around before I was a camper). It was a full circle moment.
We spent the week "gettin' on to" the kids for calling us Mr Ben/Mrs Kristina and saying yes & no sir/ma'am. "we are not that old" we kept telling them!! It happened everyday...and while it made me feel old, I loved it. It truly made me sad that we wouldn't be raising our kids there. We just adore these kids!!
Another highlight of the week was being away from the media! We slept at Mrs Chrys' but we never turned on a tv and only used our phones to post pics. It was a glorious week being away from "the world" and surrounded by His Glory and beauty!!!
We spent our 10th anniversary at the place that we love most. That night, we sat on the back porch of Mrs Chrys' house and listened to the kids play capture the flag in the pasture (most of the campers ended up next door to where we were staying) and then enjoying the quiet calm after they went to bed. That pasture is the one that my old house overlooks...so it was a nice time to just BE. And, we might have taken a mid-night swim!
Senior High week of Camp Ch-Yo-Ca "TransforMErs" is not one that we will ever forget! Thanks so much to the directors for this opportunity...we are hooked!!! (but then again, we were hooked long ago!)