CBS Family Camps 4, 5, and 6!

Krista Hart filled in as a surrogate daughter on our daily hike up Scar Mountain.

As we sit on the tarmac at LAX awaiting our aircraft to take flight and return us to Boston, I’ll admit that my head is spinning. It’s very hard to believe that our seven-week stint at Campus by the Sea is over. I’ve described it to some as feeling as though we were at the top of the water slide seven weeks ago and just like that, found ourselves at the bottom. Though willing to attribute the sense of time moving faster and faster to age, I’m somewhat comforted (or discomforted?) by the younger set agreeing that time is moving at an alarming rate.

At any rate, the 2009 season of Campus by the Sea Family Camps is over and we are overwhelmed with gratitude for the amazing ways God has lived among us throughout the summer.

Kari and Gabe and Lisa enjoyed being at camp for a few days together.

Family Camp 4 arrived the day we returned from our quick little trip up to Vancouver, Washington, to speak at the Coaches Time Out conference. David and Cherylyn Hegg served as the resource couple for this week and were predictably warm and engaging with the campers. David’s teaching from the Psalms was insightful and instructive. Paul and I love hanging with the Heggs; they are friends as well as partners in ministry. It was a great week of fruitful ministry.

Lisa left camp on Monday (the 13th of July) and flew directly to Boston to welcome Julie as she returned from Uganda. They had a happy reunion for about 36 hours before Julie flew to California and Lisa returned to grad school in Virginia with permission in hand to begin collecting data for her thesis. I then took the boat to the mainland and surprised Julie at LAX, who thought a dear family friend would be picking her up. Though impractical from a time and money point of view, it was priceless to have her all to myself for three hours prior to arriving at a camp full of friends wanting a part of her. Her six months in Uganda were so life-changing in many ways and it was a gift to begin to debrief with her. We were back at camp in time to dance the “Cotton-Eyed Joe” and have an ice cream sundae.

Very happy parents welcome Julie home from Uganda.

The other huge highlight of the week was having my dear friends, Patty Benes and Christy Keating, join us at camp for the week. We’ve been journeying through life with these women since 1995, when they were both in my Mom to Mom group at Grace Chapel, and we’ve probably talked about them coming to CBS all those years! No one was more surprised than me that they really came . . . and it was worth the wait. We had a marvelous time. Experiencing camp “anew” through the eyes of a newcomer only deepened our love for the place and we were so thankful for the opportunity to share it with them. They were very self-sufficient and took in everything they possibly could in the seven days they were with us. What a fun summer memory!

Christy Keating and Patty Benes broke away from Lexington to spend a week at CBS.

Family Camp 4 finished strong with a lot of great sharing at the Friday night banquet—which was true every Friday night all summer long. There were many holy moments as campers shared how God had touched them during the week and over the years at CBS. It’s so obvious to us that God continues to powerfully use this ministry and we truly feel so privileged to be a part of it.

David and Cherylyn Hegg were also thrilled to see Julie.

All too quickly (four days later, to be exact), Julie slipped out of camp and relocated to San Luis Obispo to tackle her online chemistry class. She was blessed to have a willing and known tutor there and has spent the past two weeks fulfilling the final prerequisites for the University of St. Augustines, where she’ll begin her doctor of physical therapy on September 3. We hated to see her go so quickly, but are so grateful for the Lord’s provision of just what she needed, from housing with our dear friends Jan & HA Northington and a car loan from her cousin Katie, to the necessary teaching brilliance in Peggy. As I write, she has taken her finals and is also returning to New England tonight. She’ll work with us at the two weeks of HIM Family Camps at Camp Berea in New Hampshire and then she and I will move her back to California, roadtripping east to west in her Toyota Corolla. :) We can’t wait.

Family Camp 5 arrived July 19 and brought another group of wonderful campers who were enthusiastically greeted by our energetic staff. Howard and Kathy Clark continued their fifteen-year tradition of teaching at family camp, and once again Howard delivered well-prepared, rich lessons from scripture. He is in a league of his own and we feel so blessed to sit under his teaching.

Howard and Kathy Clark join us for the banquet at the end of camp 5.

The third and final “staff-only” special hike happened in the middle of camp 5: the ninth annual trek to “Lone Tree.” The 9-mile round trip hike departs from the beach at Gallagher’s at 6 a.m. to take advantage of the early morning cool. We were blessed to have a marine-layer cloud cover which protected us all the way to the top of the ridge. An unprecedented twenty-four staff hiked, and besides experiencing great camaraderie with one another, we were all treated to seeing a huge herd of buffalo along the way.

The ninth annual “Lone Tree” hike was accomplished on Wednesday, July 22, with a record 24 staff hikers.

More staff fun happened Saturday night as the second annual Water Regatta provided many moments of hilarity for all. The water balloon volleyball toss, lead by Alton Green, was a ton of fun and doubly fun when Alton increased the number of water balloons being tossed by beach towels held by each team of two. The grand finale was an all-out water ballon fight and everyone either fired or was fired upon. The next competition was “Duck, Duck, Drip,” which was appropriately renamed “Duck, Duck, Drench,” since most participants received a cupful of water on their heads as they were chosen (think “Duck, Duck, Goose”). It was a blast and only a few suffered minor injuries. Kayak races without paddles and tube races with paddles were held at the waterfront, and after the laughter subsided and the games ended, Paul had the privilege of baptizing Sam, one of our summer staff. A delicious, barbecued salmon dinner at the beach followed, capping a great team-building, staff-bonding water regatta.

Alton Green is pursued by Heather Thiel in a competitive round of "Duck, Duck, Drip" as part of the annual Water Regatta.

Alton dives in behind me, much to my horror, but thankfully, missed.

We were all rather shocked to realize the next day that our last family camp was arriving. The staff did an incredible job of welcoming this last group as though they were the only group of the summer. We were so impressed all summer with the hearts and attitudes of service of the team. We were blessed with such a wonderful staff!

A highlight of each week was Alton Green and his crew as they performed to Spike Lee’s “Do You Want to Buy a Bunny?”

Brian, Heather, Abby and Lydia Dietz send their temporary nanny, Heather Early, back to Boston after a phenomenal summer.

Gary and Anne Gaddini, along with their four daughters, were with us for this last camp, and Gary’s teaching “knocked it out of the park.” He spoke with passion, conviction, and humility, and was very well received. We love partnering with Gary and Anne, and on a broader scale, we consider it a great privilege to be journeying through life with them.

Gary and Anne Gaddini pose with us prior to the final banquet of the 2009 family camp season.

Wrapping up a great summer is always bittersweet. It’s hard to say good-bye to a group you’ve spent seven weeks together with on an “overseas missions trip.” The community experience far surpasses what most will go home to. We celebrated each others’ gifts and talents at Saturday night’s “Coffee House” and then had an extended worship and sharing time Sunday morning, with a great word from Paul in between on Hebrews 12. I sensed that more than ever, this group is committed to continuing on the journey to the heart of God and are leaving camp determined to support one another, to find/make community where they are, and to grow in their personal relationship with the Lord. Please pray for them. Some go back to great situations; others to not-so-great.

Paul baptizes Michael Burns at the end of camp 6.

And so, another summer at CBS is history. Number 34. We don’t in any way take for granted the privilege of serving there and are especially grateful for the new camp director, Dave Noble and his wife, Kim, for affirming our working relationship. We expect they will become great friends as well.

Sunrise at the “Way of the Cross.”

Well, the plane has landed and we’re back in New England. After a few days getting things in order, we’ll head to Camp Berea for two weeks of family camp sponsored by H.I.M. Join us in praying that the two weeks at Camp Berea will be as full of the presence and grace of God as these last seven have been. Happy summer!