Today at lunch we celebrated Jack W.’s birthday. As I called his name out and took him his cake he jumped up and down and said, “Surprise, I kept it a secret from all of you!” Noone at his table had any idea it was his birthday. They were so excited to get to share his Alpine tree chocolate birthday cake. We all enjoyed a Friday tradition, fried catfish with homemade tartar sauce and ketchup. Simmons Catfish, I might add, from Yazoo City, MS. Heaping serving bowls of black eyed peas and potatoes au gratin accompanied the fish.
This morning we were treated to a special Friday morning platter of pancakes, with sausage. Prior to breakfast each morning (except Sundays) groups begin the day with Morning Watch. Wake up is at 7 Central. Boys stumble out of bed, hair sticking up, and throw on some clothes to head to the bathhouse. About 7:15 a bell rings calling each age group to their morning watch area. We sing songs of worship and hear a devotional from God’s Word, led in each area by the head counselor for that age group. It’s usually still cool with rays of sunlight beaming through trees. It’s a great way to begin our days.
Will Givens leads our Hunter age group (rising 3rd and 4th grades). Will is a third year staffer from Auburn, AL and second year head counselor. He’ll be a senior at Auburn this fall, finishing up a degree in graphic design. He did not camp with us growing up so we are eternally grateful that the Lord brought him to us through friends three years ago. He is mature beyond his years and so patient with those young boys.
On Sunday we’ll have a non denominational church service, all camp in the gym, led by our camp minister for the summer, John Mark Scruggs. John Mark works for a campus ministry called Reformed University Fellowship serving college students at the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga. He is married to Caroline and they have three beautiful, young children who are loving being at camp. His main job here at Alpine is to be a resource and encouragement to our staff as they give themselves in service to your boys. John Mark holds Bible studies for staff and meets one on one with counselors.
At the end of each night, after we’ve played hard one last time in an age group night program, each counselor leads a short cabin devotional with his cabin. Usually it’s a short Bible story. They might ask each boy to give highs and lows of his day and then close with sentence prayers.
I describe all of that to say this: our main spiritual emphasis at camp is through relationships. Actions speak so much louder than words at Alpine, and we talk about that a lot with our staff. Boys might remember a few words or stories from devotionals and morning watches. They will no doubt remember what it looked like to be a college age counselor, a world they are headed for one day, and to see how that counselor interacts with them, with his peers, and with other campers. They’ll see acts of service and kindness. They’ll see that being a Christian doesn’t mean stuffy, no fun, and rule keeping. And they’ll see their counselor mess up - all of them, just like we all do - and maybe most importantly, they’ll hopefully see that counselor apologize or ask for forgiveness or admit weakness. That’s the core of the Bible as we read it - human weakness and frailty and God’s forgiveness and love through Christ. So that’s exactly what we want to model here.
Tomorrow will be a normal day for us here at camp, much like the last five. In fact, many boys may not even realize it’s Saturday until someone tells them. I love it! We’ll have activities and play hard. They’ll know when Sunday comes. We’ll get to sleep in a bit and the schedule will feel different.
Tonight most of camp will be eating a hamburger buffet around the lawns of the dining hall and lodge. We did have a swift, hard rainfall this afternoon around 3 but it only lasted about 30 minutes. The sun is out now and we’ll play once again tonight after dinner. Except for our Chiefs (rising 9 and 10). They are currently, as I type this, entertaining the oldest campers from Camp Desoto, in a social. They’ll play ice breaker games facilitated by the counselors, then enjoy pizza and a dance. I would characterize the mood as “high to very high” when I paid them a visit earlier this afternoon to lay out a few expectations about how Alpine gentlemen behave. With a healthy amount of nerves mixed in as well!
Enjoy your weekend. We are planning to have a great one on Lookout Mountain. Thanks for reading, Glenn