Monday, April 22, 2013

Group Family Camping

Ottis came up here a few weeks ago with another group (a Father-Son camp out) and enjoyed it so much, he decided he wanted to come back with the whole family. As a matter of fact he put together the outing and it became a church event for the Madison campus of Willowbrook. 
I would say it was an unusual weekend for April but what is normal for weather around here anymore? It came quite a downpour the night before their event and then came a 30 degree temperature drop. The high on Thursday was around 83 and Friday it was 53 with a frost warning for Saturday morning! 
Ottis brought his RV so I am sure they were quite comfy and a few other families braved it out as well. 
There looked to be about 20 in all at the peak of things, though not everyone stayed overnight. They had a night scavenger hunt which I am sure was a hoot and then a game of kickball the next day.
This was a great group of folks that really seemed to enjoy themselves. Before leaving, Ottis donated three items to our game collection which we appreciate so much. I asked if he had noticed a group of raccoons that tend to wander through the campground on a regular basis and he said no, but indicated that there was a huge rat that made a dash across the pavilion. They mentioned something about another trip in the Fall...personally I think that would be a great idea ! :)

Friday, April 19, 2013

Obstacle Course Progress!

It finally dried up enough that the pea gravel was able to be delivered for the Obstacle Course.  After another week or so of waiting out the subsequent rain, I spent another week trying to line up someone to move it from being "Gravel Mountain" to its intended purpose of lining the course. 
Phone calls had not produced a taker so I was prepared to go and rent a bobcat and do this myself when Wells Johnson gave me a call. "You still need someone to help with the gravel?" he asked. I told him, yes sir, I do. He responded that he and Gordan Rainey were willing to come up on Wednesday morning and help.
They arrived around 9:00 on Wednesday morning--both with tractors with buckets--and were ready to go. I spent several hours the day before, raking out the leaves and clearing sticks and rocks from the course.  Needless to say I was a little sore but when you are working with volunteers I have learned you have to be able to move when they can come!
This part of the project would prove to be a little bigger than I thought. They brought the gravel in with the heavy equipment and I spread it with a rake. I managed to keep up for about, oh ... 30 minutes. 
Before it was all said and done they spent most of the day up here and finished at about 3:00. They did an excellent job and have been so helpful to me up here at the camp.
I must say that with the gravel down, the Obstacle Course is really looking good. The only think left now is to tighten up a couple of braces and hang the ropes. I believe this thing can be finished and ready to go before May gets here!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Survival in the Wilderness

The weather could not have been any more perfect for a weekend of survival training. Boy Scout Troop 633, led by David Smith, made their first visit up to the camp to do just that -- survival training in the wilderness. 
The boys were split into three groups of four, each with an Eagle Scout 'counselor'. The groups were each put in three separate spots in the camp and, with minimal supplies, had to use their training to set up camp.  The first night's objective was to set up shelter and make a fire.

The group at the bottom of the hill made short work of putting up a shelter and thought that the long grass up in the meadow might make a good thatched roof.

The second group down near the Hidden Path trail fared well, though they were down in the swampy low-grounds. Their evergreen thatching was smart looking!

The last group went down off the hillside past the obstacle course. They used an uprooted tree to help provide shelter (and it made a great windbreak, too).  They were a little tougher to get to, so there aren't any closeups of that group!

Let's make one thing clear ... this was NOT training for the adult leaders of the group!  They made their base camp around the pavilion camp fire ring and had a mighty fine little setup . . .
They had mighty fine food, too . . . the smell of which I'm sure was quite tantalizing to those in training.  The first night, while the groups got their shelter and fire situations figured out, the leaders sat around a great fire and swapped stories.  Darin Lightfoot (who had been up here before with his youth, from Morningside Baptist) happened to be up there for the first night, so he pulled out his guitar and strummed for a bit.  It made for a most pleasant way to spend a Friday evening!

On Saturday morning the small groups had to pass some training in order to 'find' some eggs to cook and eat.  At lunch time, provided they'd passed off on their fishing skills, they got some trout to prep and eat.  
I came up on a group of guys on the dock and they showed me their lunch . . .
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime, right?!

The group at the bottom of the hill decided at some point that their thatched room wasn't quite going to cut it, so they switched it out.
The smart thing about their setup was that it was so close to water ...
Which definitely made the water-fetching a LOT easier.

The afternoon was fairly quiet.  I'm not sure what skills they were working on, but I do know that all the guys earned their supper ... a skinned rabbit and a couple of cans of vegetables!
Rabbit stew was what each of the groups decided to cook and serve.  All of them told me their dinner was quite tasty!

Saturday night was a little warmer than Friday night -- a fact I'm sure the boys all appreciated.  Troop leader David did relay a great story about their group camp fire time from that night.  Evidently at some point in the evening they had a little UFO encounter.  As they sat in the dark, they watched about 15 glowing globes of light flying up over the hill.  At first, because the globes of light were in a loose formation, the guys thought perhaps it was helicopters, but there was absolutely no noise.  Then, as they watched them climb higher and higher, they globes simply disappeared!

David said the guys were all a little stunned and very curious about the lights ... until one of the other adults remembered seeing something on YouTube about Japanese Floating Lanterns . . .
And they decided that was what they'd seen.  The guys had heard voices and music in the distance and had figured there was some type of party going on.

It just so happens that friends of ours own some of the property that backs up to the camp -- and they had hosted a wedding and reception that night ... where Japanese lanterns were let aloft.  UFOs, indeed!

The guys of Troop 633 made terrific guests and we hope this was just the first of many visits for them.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Whitesburg Challengers

The weather was great for the Whitesburg Challengers. It was a small but dedicated group that came up for a night of camping, devotions and a few outside activities. 
Tim Lawrence and Ray Silar have been involved with the Challengers for 15 plus years and have been coming up here to the Camp long before we got here. 
They always seem to have the most respectful and behaved boys. I always try to spend a little time with them when they come and and this time was no exception.
It is very encouraging to see a ministry like this still going on and the dedication of the men involved.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A Little Family R&R

It was Spring Break week and Jeff Whitehead had called and said he and the family wanted to get in a little R&R before Easter weekend. If you have ever been in the ministry--especially as church ministerial staff--you know you work on this weekend; Sunday is not a day off.  Unfortunately Spring didn't cooperate, as the weather switched to rainy and cold for the first part of the week, so Jeff called and said they would wait until the end of the week. 

I have gotten to know Jeff a bit over the last few years and he is one busy man. He is the children's minister at Hillwood Baptist Church and wears many other hats as well including a stint there of preaching every week when the pastor was having medical problem. Well around noon on Thursday, Jeff and the family came rolling in. They unloaded everything at the pavilion and started a fire, mostly for recreational purposes as the day was quite nice. There is just something about a fire going . I went over and spoke with him, met his wife and answered a few questions he had. He has three boys and wanted to know the location of the trees that were down across the trails. I told him not to worry about those things and just to relax but he said they liked doing that kind of work. I told him he could just pick a trail as we have trees blocking all three of them. The boys were on the playground while Jeff and his wife were sitting around the campfire as we left them.

A couple of hours later I saw his truck pull out of the pavilion and the next thing I know the sound of a chain saw was echoing through the woods. Denise and I headed out later that evening to Rosie's to celebrate my retirement but stopped to say a word on our way out. He said they were only staying until about 7:00 p.m. and then going home. He said one of the boys had an appointment in the morning and that it would mean leaving the camp at 5:00 a.m. if they stayed overnight. I said it was such a shame that they couldn't stay longer and he agreed.

The next day as I was walking the trails I saw where they had done such a fine job clearing two of the three trails. A big thank you goes out to Jeff Whitehead and crew!