One of my blogger friends recently posted a picture on her site of a birch tree. It reminded me of a church camp that I attended for a week every summer many years ago.
Located on Lake Michigamme in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Presbytery Point was kind of a magical place for me. So many good memories. I'd like to share just a few with you.
Our living accommodations consisted of several log cabins with wooden plank floors and steel bunk beds, perhaps eight altogether in each cabin. The camp was co-ed, girls usually outnumbering the boys, but nobody really cared. We were having too much fun!
Luster lace. Do you remember luster lace? (At least, I think that's what it was called!)
One part of each day was set aside for Arts & Crafts, and I always had to choose very carefully. The crafts I could probably handle, but the arts?? Forget it!
This one year I enrolled in a class where we made our own wallets with real leather and luster lace. Boy, was that neat! You know, for years I carried that wallet proudly around. It finally just disintegrated from a lot of use, but I loved that wallet. I made it! It was mine!!
There was a large building where we all met to eat. Long rectangular tables were set end to end -- two in each row, perhaps four columns. Or were there three in each row with three columns? Whatever. I've been trying to picture it in my mind. I remember how it was. I just don't remember how many rows & columns.
It was cafeteria-style. We all went through the line (and it moved really quick, as I recall), and then took our places at one of the tables.
After grace, we chowed down, sometimes with a lot of antics going on. Did you ever take a piece of food, hold it against the end of your knife, and then flick it in a specific person's direction?
Well, a little bit of that happened every once in a while, often initiated by one of the ministers! Things never got out of hand, however, and it was always in good fun.
After eating, there would be a song or two. Many 'rounds'. Do you remember rounds? What fun!
One of my favorites (not a round) was, "Two old maids". Do you know that one? The leader (usually one of the ministers) would stand up and sing, "Two old maids in a folding bed, one turned to the other and said, ... ... ... " He would then point to a specific table (all of us having been pre-alerted, of course, that this was coming and had our responses all ready), and that table would respond with the answer in unison (had to be either a song title, or a phrase within the song itself that might be appropriate). The response, of course, had to be sung, not just recited.
A couple of real goodies that I remember (as a response) were, "I'm always chasing rainbows" and "I can't stop talkin' about him, talkin' about him, talkin' about him, I can't stop talkin' about the man that I adore". (Betty Hutton on the latter. Does this 'date' me, or what? What can I say?? I'm a dinosaur!)
Let's see, what else?
Well, the communal showers are not particularly good memories. I don't care where I am, or what age I might be, I have never been in favor of shared shower facilities. (Didn't like them in high school, either!)
I must say, however, looking back on it this many years, that those in charge at Presbytery Point did their very best to ensure that we left our camp experience in the same healthy condition as when we arrived. That, in retrospect, is impressive!
One moonlit night I was sound asleep in my lower bunk when, all of a sudden, I woke up to see a man standing over me. Boy, was I scared!
I dove under my covers and just lay there, trying not to breathe, expecting at any second to be attacked. Nothing. "Hours" went by while I was holding my breath ... still nothing.
Finally, I peeked out from underneath my covers to see if he was still there, and he WAS!! In fact, he hadn't moved at all from the last time I had seen him! I went back under the covers, hoping he would go away and I could safely get back to sleep.
An interminable amount of time later, still wide awake, I somehow found the courage to peek out again. He was still there!!!
Still in the same position, unmoving.
My logical mind finally kicked in, saying, "Something about this just isn't right!"
I moved my arms to strike the man and found myself, instead, just batting at the covers of the person in the top bunk that had fallen over the side -- and, in the moonlight, looked like a figure bending over me.
Vespers were special. They were held at the very tip of the point, which faced the sunset.
All of us campers & counselors sat on long wooden benches facing the stone altar. There would be readings from the Bible, prayers, and a sermon. A hymn or two.
Truly wondrous occasions.
Every once in a while, there would be a campfire an hour or two after vespers. We would make 'smores' ... remember those? Sometimes we even told ghost stories.
Usually, tho, we left the point with candles lit, softly singing.
I last visited Presbytery Point in 2001. In fact, I scattered some of my sister's (Peggy's) ashes there.
It was early July, and I had fully expected that there would be a camp full of youngsters when I arrived, but there was not. In fact, the campground was totally empty! Then, I remembered that it was the 4th of July weekend.
Actually, I was kind of glad to have the camp all to myself. It allowed me the time I really needed to leisurely walk through the grounds and reminisce.
I would like to leave you with this round that my friend's post reminded me of. It goes like this ...
White stately birch beside a sparkling lake,
Here we campers gather and new friendships make.
Presbytery Point is so like Heav'n above,
Here we grow like Christ in joy, faith, hope, and love.
It is my most sincere hope that all of you are well today, and that you feel the warm embrace of God's love.