Thursday, December 22, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

Final Camp-Out of 2011

I am not sure if Pack  94 was after their "Polar Bear" badge or not, but when I got up early on Sunday morning there was no doubt about it that Jack Frost had made a visit sometime during the wee hours of the morning.  The whole camp looked as if glitter had fallen from the sky during the night.  For the weeks leading up to the camp-out I had been talking and e-mailing with Derylnn who lined up everything.  I met the scout master, Rick Dynes, around lunchtime on Saturday. 

Last year when the group came up it was on a weekend where the main campground was full (see post here), so they asked if it would be ok to create a fire-ring on top of the hill.  I thought it was a great idea and now we have given the area the official name of Cedar Top Campground.  I moved several picnic tables up there a few weeks ago.  Though Pack 94had the whole camp to themselves this time, they actually chose to stay where they did last time. 

I asked Rick if the storyteller was in the group this time and he said no.  I remember from last year quite a big group, with a still, clear night and the storyteller recounting tales at the campfire as everyone gathered around to listen. 

Late Saturday afternoon several of the boys earned their knife badge.  I don't know of anyone who doesn't like a campfire and we sure never tire of its smell.  Sometime during their stay they went on a trail hike that covered almost 3 miles.  It was great to have the Pack up here and to be the group that closes out our season. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

Dual Duty Weekend

A weekend of Scouts.  You never know what the weather is going to do in the month of December but for this past weekend it was not too bad for our guests. 
When a lady from Pack 391 filled out the camp reservation form I noticed under event she listed it as "Winter Freeze Campout".  After asking a few questions I discovered that one of the badges the scouts needed to earn was camping when the temperature dips below freezing. 
Now while the official temperature never quite got that low, one of the dads assured me it was definitely that cold on top of the hill where they were camping.
Usually the scout groups have a good time when they come and once darkness fell there were some night games in the new camp ground area Cedar Top Campground, which is located at the top of the paved hill.  Chris Wilson, who is one of the leaders from pack 357, asked if the boys kept us up at night. I said no and that we actually enjoy hearing them running around and having a good time outdoors.  If things go too late we just turn on our giant fan which pretty much drowns out all the noise. 
Scout groups always come prepared with pack 391 bringing their own firewood and even setting up a screen to watch the SEC Championship game. 
The two groups overlapped their time up here a bit as one stayed Friday night and the other staying Saturday night so for awhile on Saturday everyone was here.  I spent some time with both groups, though not as much as I would have liked, and met some great folks. 
I remember standing around the campfire and asking one of the men about this giant rock about the size of a bowling ball hanging from a rope suspended by three sticks that looked like a miniture teepee set up.  Oh that's our weather rock he told me.  I said oh really so how does it work?  He told me that if it's swinging--it is windy, if it's wet--it is rainy, if it can't be seen-- it is foggy, and if it's covered with ice-- pretty cold.  Hmmm ... I thought to myself ... if the wind is able to move that rock too much, our campers in the tents are in trouble! 
We are always so glad to have the scouts at the camp and when they have packed up and gone they do such a fine job it is hard to tell they were even here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Return Visitors

It is always a joy to have Sara and Bill Rotenberry's Sunday School Class from New Market Baptist Church up at the camp.  I think this is the third time they have been up since we have been here; it's a regular event.  They generally like to come in the evening, have a little supper, and then do some socializing and participate in some events around the fireplace.  This visit was no different!

We joined them for a bite to eat and a little fellowship.  The potato soup is Denise's favorite, though I went back for more of the chili and the stew.  Either way, the food and desserts they bring are always great!

This is a very friendly group and we have actually visited their Sunday School class at the church a few times.  I know several folks from the church and they all seem to be that way - friendly.  We look forward to their next outing (hopefully this Spring) up at the camp.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Improvements and Projects

It's been our hope to make a major improvement to the camp at least yearly. Last year we had the new iron gate with solar operator installed. This made the camp more secure and made it easier for those who were using the camp to get in and out. This past summer the new deck over Serenity Pond went in, making it easier (and safer) for fishing, especially for our younger visitors, and it provided a nice place for a group gathering or picnic. We're already in the 'vision' stage for next year's project, a team-building obstacle course for children and youth.

We asked our very talented friend, Amberley Gutscher, to help us capture the vision onto paper, and she did a most excellent job:

The thought is that we'd have two of everything, and we'd locate it at the far end of the upper field. This would be a wonderful draw for youth retreats and RA/Challengers groups, as well as boy (and girl) scout troops. We realize we may not be able to complete it by Spring 2012, but we'd like to have made good headway into the project.

A few of the other items on the Camp MACOBA to-do list:

* Move the older picnic tables out into campground area.
* Spray dock with Thompson's Water Seal.
* Spray picnic tables with Thompson's Water Seal.
* Remove large tree blocking trail (High Ridge Trail).
* Replenish firewood supply.
* Clean out shed.
* Take down broken seats in playground area.
* Install plexiglass on wall over stove.
* Move concrete blocks from upper field to the entrance gate and to the fence by pavilion area.
* Remove brush from campground area.
* Burn/clean-up brush pile near pavement (bottom of hill).
* Trim cedar trees (low branches) in new camping area.
* Replace plugs in campground electrical boxes.
* Label breakers in pavilion electrical box.
* Rewire lights in bathrooms so all work off same switch.
* Hook-up ice machine.

Of course this list is not exhaustive (there are *always* others), but this is a good start. There are some other ongoing projects we hope to have wrapped up soon -- a lavatory up in the main campground, and maintenance shed at the top of the upper field.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

MBA Father-Son Campout 2011

I am not sure exactly how long this event has been going on but this is the second one that has taken place since we have been at the camp.  Chris Wilson from Willowbrook is in charge of organizing the event and lining up a missionary to speak every year.  This year we had Mark Busby who has been serving in Japan for 20 years. 

I spoke with Mark a few minutes, "Hey Mark, I heard you are from Sand Mountain?" 

He said, "Yeah that's right; you know something about the mountain?" 

I told him I'd  heard that there used to be some snake-handlers up there, and asked if there was any truth to that?  He grinned and told me that oh yeah, there were, but he was never in that group.  We had a laugh and then talked ministry for awhile.  He did a great job with the kids as the groups rotated in and out. 

The day started out rather iffy as at noon it was still raining at the camp and the Weathermen said it would be rather cold on Saturday morning.  I called Chris and he said things were still a go.  There were over 100 father/sons registered to come and while the weather did affect the attendance some, there were still a great turn-out as 88 showed up! 

One of the first ones to make it up was Sam Kelly with a truck full of equipment.  Sam is always prepared for whatever comes and is one of the most resourceful guys I know.  He is one who is out doing what needs to be done when everyone else is still thinking about what needs to be done. 

I am not sure how many churches were represented but my conversations revealed at least three different churches.  Right before supper I saw a familiar face from the Fire Department, Brant Maynard.  Brant is pretty good ol' boy and runs and owns an equipment place out on Highway 72.  I have heard good reports from those who do business there. 

The boys were divided into three groups when the day began on Saturday morning.  Each activity was about 30 minutes to an hour long.  There is the missionary group, the trail walk and then the events.  Under events there is an air rifle shoot, bow and arrow, slingshot and a hatchet throw.  Now the hatchet throw seemed to be the hardest one but I will say the guy in charge of this event was good, he could put an axe in the wood no matter how he threw it or from what distance...he reminded me of Grizzly Adams. 

The last event of the day, after lunch on Saturday, was some sort of pumpkin chunkin' contest.  There were two groups who'd built launchers and everyone gathered up in the top meadow to see which team could chunk their pumpkins the furtherest.  Denise and I rode up on Easy to check it out.

Originally we'd parked behind the launchers, but a friendly fellow came over and said we would probably be safer somewhere else.  He went on to add that he'd looked the launchers over pretty well and we really probably did want to move!

We went off to the side and watched.  The team got ready to shoot their pumpkin up in the air.  I had my camera poised, ready to catch that pumpkin mid-launch.

Huh.  Nothing but clear blue sky.  I wonder what happened to the pumpkin?  Oh . . . that's where it went.  And I think it actually rolled most of the way there!

Everyone seemed to have a good time and we are always glad to have them up.  It seems I missed the banjo picking and wash tub playing that went on late Friday night involving the missionaries.  Not sure this was a Japanese custom...must have come straight out of Sand Mountain!  

Monday, October 24, 2011

Ladies SS Class from FBC Gurley

Todd and I made some fast and forever friends during our service at First Baptist Church Gurley, among them was a great group of senior ladies. We've kept in touch with them and they were terrific to us after the accident and brought meals and sent their love, prayers and encouragement. We wanted to have them up to the camp and have some fellowship with them, so we picked a Sunday afternoon that worked for everyone, and we scheduled a fish fry.

When the day came, Todd got a station set up for the prep and cooking area. We've gotten the stove up and running so there's now a pretty decent cook station at the upper end of the pavilion.

The day was beautiful. Though it wasn't sunny, it wasn't too cool and there was no wind.

The Camp is looking glorious now as Fall displays her wonderful color scheme.

At around 3:00 pm we heard a car coming up the drive . . .

Yep, they were here!! All told, including Todd and I, there were twelve of us.

And even though we'd wanted to do this for the ladies, they insisted on bringing slaw and baked beans, drinks and DESSERTS! These ladies can cook, too -- and their wonderful offerings were definite proof of that.

Look at this lovely group of ladies -- it was so nice to see their smiling faces and hear their fun chit-chat and catch up with them all. But here they were congregating up front when Todd had build a warm, wonderful fire in the fireplace.

So we all headed down fireside to continue chatting and catching up, while Todd and Ed (Ann's husband) manned the fryer end.

They were hard at it, too! Todd's got a pretty incredible system for cooking the fish, french fries, and hush puppies.

And as soon as the chow whistle blew, we were back up at the business end of the pavilion!

The food was plentiful and delicious.

And I think pretty much everyone went through the line at least twice. And quite a number of us went back a third time, I think!

All I know is that there were not a whole lot of leftovers when it was all said and done.

After a lunch, several of the ladies took off to do a little exploring. One of the ladies who'd stayed behind noted the two walking away into the woods and commented, "That's why I asked if there were restrooms up here, so I didn't have to take a walk in the woods." We all laughed and laughed, watching the other two walking around, looking like they were looking for a "safe" spot! It was a fun afternoon.

All too soon it was cooling off and dusk was rapidly approaching. The ladies packed up and got ready to head home, but not before we got in some good hugs and promises to continue to keep in touch!

Monday, October 17, 2011

New Life Community -- A Service and a Picnic

I regret that we were not able to spend time with New Life Community, who recently came out to hold a morning service and then have dinner on the grounds.  They were coming in as we were headed out to church and because of a couple of stops we had to make they were already gone when we got back.  Brother Paul seems to be a very friendly man and the group is very nice as well.  They came out last year for the first time and we did enjoy our time with them, I do remember.  We hope they'll be back next year, too!

Neely's Chapel Fall Picnic

Earlier in the week Pastor Lamar McGriff from Neely's Chapel called with some questions about the camp.  He wanted to have the church up for a picnic and come out for a pre-visit as well. 

We made the arrangements and he and the youth guy from the church came out for an official tour.  Brother Lamar was very down to earth and easy to talk with.  He also told me several stories as well.  He said that it just might have been him who brought the first group up here back in the late sixties early seventies. 

Plans were made and early Saturday afternoon folks began arriving.  All in all there was about 35 or so folks who made it out.  The aroma of food on the grill filled the air as I wondered on over to do a little socializing.  Everyone seemed to be having a great time and I even thought I heard a ballgame or two from a radio here and there. 

While a deposit is required from every group that comes up to the camp there is no charge for groups that are officially affiliated with the Madison Baptist Association.  I was pleasantly surprised when Brother Lamar handed me a $50.00 check and said they wanted to help out the camp.  What a great bunch of folks and I hope to see them use the camp even more in the future.