Did I say it might rain? Right after we set up our tents, it rained non-stop until 1:00 in the morning. After dinner, you could see an occasional parent/child pair hauling their stuff back to their car, and disappearing off to a motel. By the time we finished the campfire, there were only 17 kids left — and I think there are 45-50 kids in the 4th grade. This was despite the valiant efforts of the camp workers, who checked all the tents and moved any that were taking in water. One of the camp owners gave the parents a pep talk, saying, “Nature isn’t all nice, sunny and comfortable. This is part of nature. If you can just stick it out, you might lose a good night’s sleep, but your child will have an experience they’ll be talking about for years to come.”
At around midnight, Trevor called to me from his sleeping bag, “Da-a-d, I-I-I’m co-o-ld.” We were already wearing our clothes, including socks, but I was freezing, too. So I told Trevor to wear his sweat shirt on top of the long-sleeve shirt he was already wearing, wrap his second pair of sweat pants around his neck, and bury his head inside of his sleeping bag. We got a few hours’ sleep that way.
But we made it! And we had a lot of fun — not just in spite of the terrible night, but in part because we endured it. Together. And this is a key thing Kay & I learned at the Champaign Vineyard: Shared experiences build community.
The camp itself was cool; it was time-travel to 1854 to experience the Gold Rush. The workers had personas and wore period costumes. We panned for gold, toured a mine, etc. But I had forgotten that it was a Christian camp, so I was surprised by the wonderful stories the workers told. At the end, the leader said, “All these people came here hoping to find gold. But do you know what they do with gold in heaven? They make roads out of it. Up there, it’s like dirt.”