That’s the moment. Turning left on Rt. 263. I roll the windows down and the little bits of trash start to swish around the floor of my car. After having the air conditioner blasting for the past 2 hours, the rush of warm air causes my glasses to fog up. Every muscle relaxes and the smell of agriculture permeates my sinuses. Under the bridge and around a few turns, the sky opens wide and my soul resonates with the power of God’s awesomeness. Even here, still 15 minutes away, the Mountain welcomes me back - past the churches and over that one hump in the road that lifts me out of my seat. Over the hill, and down into Bryce, Smiley’s ice cream is calling my name. I give Bob’s Market a wave and cruise past the lumber yard. Home.
Two years ago, while working as the director of Senior High Youth Conference (SHYC), my wife and I learned that our duo would expand to a trio. And although he’ll have to wait until 2021 to officially be a camper, I can see that he already feels the same way I do about this place. He had no fear about running off into the woods, or taking his shoes off (which is how you know he is comfortable) and we had to keep corralling him back onto the porch. With shoes back on and our rooms set up, we made our way down to dinner.
It’s funny to see the hotel dining room with only two camp tables set out. There’s still a sizable church group here filling up the front of the room, but like many parishioners feel about their pew at church, those are our tables. Small but mighty, the camp staff fills in. The conversation revolves around final scheduling plans – evening programs, cabin assignments, and facility requests. Everyone stops by to say hello to my wife, Ellen, and son, Cooper. There are other staff children here as well and I imagine they’ll spend the next week hanging out on a fairly regular basis.
The trays are collected and the staffs go their separate ways to ready their ships for the big day. The thoughtfulness, openness, and intentional preparation which each counselor brings to their camp is inspiring. As the disciples waited in Jerusalem for Pentecost, so too do these young men and women await their moment to share God’s unconditional love with every child that arrives tomorrow.
There is an air of anticipation across the mountain tonight. Not too dissimilar from Christmas Eve. I will most likely lie in my bed tonight – repeatedly telling myself, “The faster you go to sleep – the faster it will be tomorrow!” I imagine there are a few campers doing the same thing. So with prayers for safe travels and the sound of frogs from the pond – I begin my mantra. Tomorrow is Christmas.
By Phil Woodson
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.