Camping Preparations

Have you ever prepared to camping with me???  Oh my goodness!!  I had a fellow Girl Scout Leader that told me she had a dream (…”I had a dream”…??)  that she was camping with me and I wouldn’t let her pack the supplies up to go home because they had to be packed and loaded a certain way.  Well, DUH!    Learned that at my father’s knee.

So… I’m preparing to take the scouts camping this weekend and have begun the loading.  Unfortunately we are camping at the campsite that provides you with NOTHING!  So, ALL the totes have to go.  The totes full of dishes for eating, the totes full of dishes for cooking.  OH yeah… and the large pot for heating water because this campsite doesn’t provide you with hot water to wash your dishes.  BLAH!

I have the tote full of craft supplies and the toaster (no toaster at this campsite).  I have the tote full of cleaning and paper supplies (TP, paper towels, napkins, cups, etc.).  I have the box of song books… can’t go camping without your songbooks.  I am not taking the Lumme sticks this time (sorry girls).  I have the fire bucket, the water pot, and the dutch oven for cooking our lasagna for dinner.

I still need to go to the grocery store to get some of the food items (going shortly).  Then I will have a box of dry goods and tomorrow I will add 1-2 coolers of refrigerated foods.

We are planning to make jump ropes so I have all those supplies ready to load.  Since I have trouble remembering how to make them (and my mother can’t find the Boy Scout book she had the instructions in), I will be doing a trial run tonight and will photograph and blog about it so I will be able to find the instructions later and maybe someone else will be helped by them.

I will have my backpack and  my Girl Scout bag with permission slips, health forms, and badge books.   I will have 2 first aid kits as well – a hiking one and a cabin one.

I can’t forget the camera, extra batteries, phone charger and laptop (because we are doing our musician badge and we need to listen to national anthems that I have downloaded – not because we are going to surf the ‘net).

Of course, I will still have to leave room in the minivan for sleeping bags (just mine and Esther’s) and our clothing.  I will be able to carry only 2 girls with me.

It is  a big production.  I could probably eliminate some items out of some totes for this campout, but if I did that, they wouldn’t get put away right, so it is just better to take it all since the totes are packed and ready to go.

Be warned that the weather could be iffy since I will be camping – it is either a gift or a curse that I have inherited from my mother.   🙂



Where Do You Go?

Do you know this song?

“Where do I go when I need a shelter?
Where do I go when I need a friend?
Where do I go when I need some helping?
Where do I go? Back on my knees again…”

Do you have a physical place that you go as well?  Is there someplace that you retreat to that is a special place, a comforting place?

For me that place is Camp Wanake.  It has been like a second home since I was 4 or 5.  We came here as a family every year for Memorial Day and Labor Day.  I came here as a camper every summer that I could.  I was on staff for 4 summers.  I volunteered for years after that.  Now that I have my own family, again I come for those family camp weekends.  Our children come to camp every summer.  2 have been on staff (so far).  It is part of my blood.

What makes it so special?  Besides it living up to the meaning of its name “beautiful spiritual place among the hills?”  It is one of those places that never changes.  Sure, physically, there have been changes over the years… new buildings built, old ones torn down, buildings that were bathrooms turned into craft houses… additions to buildings, slight changes to camping programs… new property purchased, property sold, other property purchased…

But what doesn’t change are the basics.  God is Nigh!  The sign leading to Vesper Hill declares this and it is true.  There is a peace that settles over this land.  The spirit is the same from 1946 to today.

The dining hall, while now linoleum (instead of cement floor with shuffleboard triangles and 4 square painted on it), air conditioned, painted and other improvements, is still the dining hall.  The ceiling still has “oatmeal” for insulation.  You still have to “hop” your tables.  The kitchen still cooks the same foods (mostly).  The wood beams, the brick fireplace, the sandstone walls… all the same for the last 60+ years.  A hub of camp and a meeting place for everyone!

IMG_0687What else remains the same?  The smell of the cabins, the dilapidated pool shower house (really?  We were sure that wouldn’t withstand the 80’s and it is still here – it even survived the severe storms this summer that took down 100s of trees… none of which even came close to hitting it!), the smell of a campfire, the joy of children playing games in the yard in front of the barn, the frog pond, the trails, people singing, laughing, playing, making new friends, renewing old friendships, the views from inspiration points (though there are more trees now), the feeling of peace and rest and being home that comes over you when you drive down the dusty gravel driveway.

What memories are evoked as I drive down that driveway?  40 years ago… coming as a family and camping in our tent… my father teaching us about nature and loving nature… my dad singing, he loved to sing and he loved leading singing, especially at camp.  30 years ago… being on staff and meeting and loving some of the best people on earth and growing with them and being able to still call them friends after 30 years… people like Wayne, Kris, Tom, Billy, Russ… to name just  a handful.  There is something about the bond of working with each other 24/7 for 3 months that bonds you like no other.  10 (or so) years ago… bringing my children here as campers for their first time for a whole week (they had already been here as family campers) and then hearing their excitement and joy and chuckling at their tears and “re-entry issues” as we went home because camp is so wonderful no one ever wants to leave.  3 years ago… when my oldest was dropped off for her first year as a summer staff… so proud of her and her choice to be part of the ministry of serving God by leading and teaching children in God’s great outdoors and helping them come to know more about Jesus.  Of course there are all kinds of great memories in between, but those are the primary ones that come to mind first.

What has changed?  I could list so many things that have changed in my lifetime.  But none of them are significant enough to counter the feelings that being here evoke.  Some changes include:  the driveway, the “new/green” shower house, less apple trees, the loss of cabins 1, 2, 3, and 3A as well as the Porcelain Pagoda, turning the Cedar Chest into a craft cabin, building 2 new retreat centers, new pool system,  new caretaker’s house, new Ranch property, …. and so on… oh… and WIFI!   🙂   Some/Most of the changes in the last 30 years have been for the better.  Though, the WIFI could stand to have a booster since this post is now on day 2 of trying to get it to go.   🙂


I pray that this place remains basically unchanged in the next 60 years, so that my children’s children and grandchildren can also enjoy and grow and love in this special place.

This place has brought me peace through the years.  It has brought me love.  It has encouraged my children in closer walks with Christ.   What more can you want when you “..need a shelter… need a friend?”

Ever wonder?

Those of you that sent or will send your kids to church camp this summer, ever wonder what the staff does on the 36 hours they get off each weekend?  We had the pleasure of hosting some of them (just a handful) this weekend at our family’s cottage on Lake Erie.  Basically they just ate and slept.



There was some playing in the water too.  And a few board games.  But mostly just sleeping.  Of course, the sleeping on the beach in the sun resulted in some very red backsides.  If you are at camp this week (busiest week of the year) and you have one of these lovely young ladies as your counselor and she doesn’t sit down, you now know why!



It was  joy to be able to host them for the weekend.  I fondly remember the weekends we had off when I was on summer staff.  We got less time off than they do.  Current staff is off from 10pm on Friday night till 10am Sunday morning.  “Olden days” staff got off about 11am Saturday morning and reported back about 4pm Sunday afternoon.  We barely had time to do much of anything.  But we often went home with someone and slept on their floor and then had the opportunity to worship with their family.  Many times the staff as a group would worship together at someone’s church on Sunday and provide the special music.  Current staff returns on Sunday morning in time to worship as a whole at camp.  There is value in that too.


We had a discussion on how things have changed over the last 30 years with staff and how things are still the same.  Mainly because deep down 20-somethings/college kids are basically the same now as they have always been.  There are still the “good kids” and there are still some “bad kids.”  Bad kids in my day were mainly some boys that lived in cabin 1…. I won’t expand on that.  If you lived it you have already pictured those boys in your head.  I believe, however, that most of the “bad boys” from my day are now fine upstanding citizens.   Kids with the same vices are still on staff… just a result of being 20 and in college?  There are still issues with some kids being great at leading Bible study and some not so great at it.  Some having wonderful Christian witnesses and some that you wonder how they got on staff at a church camp in the first place.  Again…probably just a result of 20-somethings still finding themselves and searching for their place in God’s world.    There are still cliques of friends – though probably a few more these days since the staff is almost double what it was in the 80’s.


opcrossDespite the changes over the years in size of staff, building constructions, program offerings, staff responsibilities, some camp songs, etc.  Camp is still a wonderful place to send your children to make new friends, spend time in God’s creation, and learn more about how to be a Christian and Christ’s love for them.  If you have the opportunity and funds to send your child to a church camp, I would highly recommend it.  No matter your denomination or location in the country, I’m certain that you can find a church camp to send them to.  Of course, I am biased but if you are in the North East Ohio area, the best camp in the world is here.   🙂    Camp Wanake… the name tells the whole story… Wa Na Ke… the first syllables of Delaware Indian words that mean:  Beautiful Spiritual Place Among the Hills.