It has been a fast tradition in this family for as many years as I've been around, to attend our annual church family camp at Eagle Fern. As each new year rolls around, the anticipation begins to grow, and already at the beginning of January, the planning has begun.
Because of Jonathon's work schedule, his top bunk has been vacant for the past four years and he has only been able to make it out for the evening meetings.
Family camp is a time when a group of church friend meet at the camp grounds of Eagle Fern Camp for a special four days of fun and fellowship.
In those few days, we are blessed by some wonderful teaching. This year, we had the privilege of hearing Dr. Boyd; he spoke on the subject of, "Golden Threads Through Isaiah".
There was a special anticipation as we prepared to get ready to leave. There was something in the air, a certain excitement that caused everybody at home to work a little faster then normal. Yes, it was that time of year again...time to pack up and load the van for our Annual family camp vacation.
The drive there seemed to fly by as energetic little ones looked out the window for the first sighting of Eagle Fern Lodge.
The car door had barely opened before people began tumbling out and the great rush to unload the car began. Bunks were quickly claimed and each one cleaned off.
This year, Leisel and I had volunteered to be two of the crew leaders alongside of Sean and James.
To say that we had a fantastic crew would be an understatement! There were 19 signed up to help out. It was evident that the Lord had provided abundantly with the most amazing group ever!
The crew is a unit of young people whose purpose and desire is to serve the Lord over those few days at camp. But there is a special unity and bond amongst that crew that makes them so close; the common purpose that draws them together and the sweet fellowship that they enjoy in service.
These people are in the kitchen from early morning and work into late evening.
But if you were to think that dish washing was the only thing that went on in that kitchen, you would be mistaken. With two people working on rinsing dishes and two people scrubbing out pots and pans, there was just bound to be a good water fight...
This year, the church provided a special gift for each of the crew members...a designed t-shirt with our theme verse imprinted on it..
Each of the crew members received a code nickname which they carried for the remainder of camp. Trevor earned the nickname Sherlock or Benedict Cumberbatch due to the striking resemblance :)
Within those few days, the crew was introduced to a new game..."Pin the Clothespin", in which the purpose of the game is to try to pin your opponent with out that person knowing it.
Six o'clock in the morning and already people in the cabin were beginning to stir. The crew readied themselves for a busy day in the kitchen and headed down early to prepare the tables.
The morning air always has a sort of damp, woodsy smell to it that I remember from my first years at camp. I could hear those same sounds that always welcomed me down to the lodge; the sounds of pots and pans banging as the men prepared the morning meal.
The aroma of fresh pancakes was already wafting from the kitchen.
The lodge was still quiet as crew kids began to slowly make their appearance, cupping mugs of hot coffee or cocoa. They all gathered into a small group around one of the tables waiting for everybody else to come down.
When all were present, they gathered for a crew Bible study before the set up hassle began.
Then it was show time and everybody made a mad rush to wipe off tables and set up dishes.
As the setup was finished, the little ones gathered around the bell waiting to alert the camp that breakfast was served.
Minutes later, everybody had crowded in, and the crew made their way to their designated crew table.
The sound of music was heard coming from the lodge as everybody sang a song before the morning meal.
"I am Feeding on the Living Bread" is a camp favorite.
The crew still had one more task after prayer; the job of distributing the food.
This beautiful dish of stroganoff was decorated by Junko...the red peppers on top created the Kanji word for "Jehovah".
Somehow it always seems that most of the commotion comes from over at the crew table...
When all were finished eating, it was time to don on aprons and clear the places.
From early morning till night, the kitchen was always abuzz with commotion.
Though it seemed at times that the job of pots and pans never ended, the task was somehow sweetened by the fellowship of friends.
Then it was game time!
Whether it was Frisbee or volleyball...
Foosball or air hockey...
...the church camp was always full of friendly competition :)
This year, the weather was especially conducive for swimming...
Wednesday has always been our designated picnic day, which is why the rain was not a welcome sight that morning. As the day continued on, the sky cleared up and tradition was able to be carried out. The crew loaded up tables and benches into the truck before hopping on themselves.
Down by the river, hot dogs and hamburgers were already being grilled.
Our last evening at camp, the crew gathered in the gym for one last game of four on a couch.
Already, the week was over. The time seemed to have sped by. We were not ready to leave everybody.
The fellowship of those within the family of Christ had been such a huge blessing over those few days. Having spent a week being fed by the Word and in fellowship with friends, it was not easy returning to normal life.
Dealing with after-camp blues was even worse, and for days afterwards, pictures were looked over and memories discussed through many tears.
But if the Lord wills, it shall not be long before we find that another year has sped by and we are blessed by that same fellowship within the body of Christ.
"Blest be the tie that binds
Our hearts in Christian love;
the fellowship of kindred minds
is like to that above."