Our Non-Vacation Vacation

Malia pictureFirst off – who knew a monkey riding a motorcycle would cause such a stir?!?! This humble little blog doesn’t generate much traffic beyond friends and family who keep up with us but yesterday…Oh. My. Word!! I kept checking the blog stats just because it was quite the phenomenon to see that line of the stats graph get taller and steeper practically by the minute!

Okay, moving on.

Every summer for the last six years (’02-’07, except ’05 for me), we have travelled up to Pennsylvania to work at a summer Bible camp for kids. We generally leave Nashville on a Thursday morning and return the next, next Sunday – eleven days later. Right now it takes two days to get up there since our children are young and restless and have such short attention spans. For our sanity, we drive 6-7 hours each day, someday we’ll be able to drive it all in one day! The reason we go to this camp is because it’s such a special place for both me and David. The poem I posted a couple weeks ago was inspired by this camp. We have some really good friendships with the people who come each year to staff the Senior High 2 week (campers that week are just graduated Seniors and rising Seniors). David was a camper in his youth (he went for at least 8 summers, maybe more). I went as a camper my last two years of high school.

A couple notes about the driving trip itself: On the way up we stopped in Christiansburg/Blacksburg, VA. At my request, we went to Virginia Tech’s campus because I wanted to see the memorials, etc from April’s tragic event. (There’s a He Said/She Said coming about this, I think it’ll be really good.) We ate dinner and hung out with Tanya and Jonathan and their crew. Day two always includes a slight detour onto 66 East to have lunch at The Apple House and purchase the best sparkling cider…well, ever! On the way up, our children were near perfect angels with minimal whining and complaining. On the way back, I was ready to “sell ’em to the gypsies”! But to be fair to them, David and I were so weary and tired, as well, that we simply didn’t have the energy or brainpower to adequately distract/entertain them!

About being at camp: It’s not a vacation because we’re there to work and we’re there for the campers, not for us. This year, instead of being a counselor, David was a Bible teacher and I worked in crafts for the second year in a row (which I enjoy!) In addition to your main role, all staffers have secondary jobs to do. For instance I also did cabin inspections and helped set up for the end of week “banquet” and David had some devotional speaking assignments and dining hall moping duty one night. The schedule is brutal. They get the campers up at 7 am (of course many of the girls are up way earlier for their required primping!) And they keep them up until past 11 pm. Of course, not being counselors, we didn’t have to adhere exactly to this schedule but there are many, many activities that all or some of us are involved in each day.

It is a “vacation” in that we are somewhere we love to be and with people we enjoy being around. For me, I get several days of not having to plan, cook or clean up each meal! Our accommodations are quite pleasant, too. It’s a “cabin” (1/2 of a single wide trailer built to resemble a cabin), but it’s a nicer, newer “cabin” with our own bathroom facilities, kitchenette and most importantly…air conditioning!! We do have to sleep in bunks on not so comfy mattresses but no complaints when it’s free and air-conditioned!

Camp is one of those special places that you really can’t describe to anyone. It has little to do with the location or facilities or the really good food, it’s more about the people and what happens each week. It’s about impacting lives and spending time in worship and fellowship. It’s about creating relationships and sustaining them over time. (For example, our son is named after a man we met at camp who was quite influential in our lives.)

So, we’re home again after our yearly camp excursion. We’re worn out and road weary and trying to settle back into our normal routine. But we are also blessed and humbled to have been apart of a very special week at our home…away from home.



Filed under by Malia

7 responses to “Our Non-Vacation Vacation

  1. Jeanne M.

    Camp has always been special to our family – in Maine and Pennsylvania.

    Glad you are home safely. What a great picture of the “monkey on his back.” Hope it is being shared somewhere “nationally.”

  2. Pingback: University Update - Virginia Tech - Our Non-Vacation Vacation

  3. Sheryl

    Ah, the wonderful Apple House!! I miss that place. I’m planning on ordering a box once I have little Tyler in Nov. I’ve been craving my favorite sparkling cidar. 🙂

    Troy and I go on non-vacation vacations all the time. Every time we go work a concert out of town. It’s fun for us, but it’s also work. Just wish we got paid for it! 🙂
    It’s our ministry and our reward will be in Heaven! 🙂

  4. This was really interesting for me to read because Tim’s family all lives and works at various Bible camps in the Pocono Mountains.

    I went to summer camp when I was a kid, but hadn’t ever really been exposed to the idea of family retreats at camps until I met my husband (and his family.)

    Since then, I only know the story from the other side–getting people checked in, fixing meals for 1300 people at a time, repairing the shower in the cabins by the pond.

    I’ve not realised that some camps bring in folks like you for work. It sounds like about my speed. I’ve always said I could handle it for a week–but no more than a week.

    Beats me how my inlaws all live there year-round.

  5. Malia

    I don’t know about the other weeks but the week we work people are clamoring to be included in the staff months before camp even starts. The former directors of that week rarely needed to recruit anyone! Now that they are retiring from directing, the families taking over the directing role may have a bit harder time bringing people in. We’ve already told them, we’ll be back!

    I don’t think I could ever be a cook, too much stress for me! The Board of Directors takes care of registration and there’s always maintenance staff each week. The camp is used year-round, rented out to other church groups, non-profits, etc for meetings and retreats. But it’s only “camp” in the summer.

  6. Tracy

    The Apple House……… ah such great memories. The smell of fresh apple cider and those totally horrible for you, fat filled, deep fried doughnuts….. Ahhh.. Then a few minutes later the lovely smell of the chickens!

    What good times those were.

    Thanks for reminding me.

  7. Alice Griffith

    Malia, I read here sometimes (you are a fabulous writer!) and I have a huge shout-out for Bible camps from childhood. We just got back from our own version in Indiana, where the kids and I worked our bums off (Laura was a camper, Thomas washed dishes, J and R were counselors, Timothy wandered around and learned about 20 verses from memory).

    Nothing like going back to the place where so many good memories were made and so many good truths instilled.

    Aren’t you dead, though? LOVE my bathtub…

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