"The Great Outdoors"
We took a drive on Sunday afternoon. This one was with a little more intentionality than some Sunday afternoon drives. We met our kids at Camp Wesley, a few miles north of Bellefontaine, Ohio. They were dropping off the two oldest grandchildren, Evan & Corinne, at church camp. It caused me to do some reminiscing. It created warm feelings in my spirit.
Camp Wesley has long been one of my favorite places - a big hill (for northwestern Ohio!) at the base of which, and between it and the lake, stands a large wooden cross around which many campfires have been held and many memories made - a chapel in the woods also over looking another part of the lake where some extremely meaningful devotions were shared and served as the bullpen for some awesome sledding - smelly, sulphur water - a retreat center that has been renovated more times than most church sanctuaries - a tired dining hall with a knotty pine paneled fireplace room that reeks of nostalgia (thank goodness walls cannot talk!).
I never attended Camp Wesley as a camper. My camping days and memories were at places like Camp Tecumseh in Michigan and Camp Palmer, a 4-H camp the United Methodist Church rented for a few weeks in the summer, near Fayette, Ohio. No, I mostly showed up at Camp Wesley as the dean of a camp. I often had the privilege of being a co-dean with some very fine fellow clergy friends and am most proud of some of the fantastic staffs we recruited to work with the young people. There were also some pretty awesome permanent staff members that flood my mind with treasured memories. (I'm not sure it's going to fit anyplace else, so I'll record it here: I was a particularly notorious Pepsi addict. Since there was no pop machine on the grounds, I was known to take nightly late-night drives into Bellefontaine to obtain liquid refreshments for the counselors while they led cabin devotions and put the kids down for the night. There, the confession is done!)
Last weekend brought the news of the death of one of the people, Ken Blubaugh, I became acquainted with because of Camp Wesley back in the Gary and Dick Cook days. Ken and Diane Blubaugh were good friends of the Cooks and did much around the camp to keep it up. The camp has always depended on the loving volunteer labor of church groups to prepare the facilities for the physical and spiritual opportunities planned for weekend and week-long campers. Many fine, skilled, and dedicated folks are being fondly remembered by me as I write this post.
Camp Wesley is a place where people have long pondered their relationship with God and God's world. It's a place where life-long friendships are born and nurtured. I count among my community of friends many whose paths I crossed on the grounds of Camp Wesley - campers, staff, board members all. It's what I am hoping and praying will be the experience for Evan and Corinne this week as well!
"Jesus loves the little children, all the children of the world,
Red and yellow, black and white,
they are precious in his sight,
Jesus loves the little children of the world."