Home Again . . .

As I sit in our cabin this morning, I can hear the happy voices of children at play, the rowdy voices of junior and senior highers playing a crazy game on the volleyball court, and I can see small groups of adults sitting around picnic tables studying the Luke 15 passage on the Prodigal Son/Father.  Though “June gloom” hangs over the water making it look and feel cooler than a summer day should feel, no one’s spirits are dampened.  Family Camp is in session!

I can hardly believe that we’ve welcomed our second group of family campers in this young 2010 season or that we’ve already spent two full weeks here.  It sounds like a common refrain from many around us.

At any rate, back to June 14, Lisa and I arrived at Los Angeles International Airport safely from London, 11.5 hrs after departing Heathrow, were picked up by a dear friend who took us to the boat terminal, and were in an orientation meeting at Campus by the Sea by 7 p.m. Monday, June 14.  It was a full day.  :)  The Lord was extra gracious in allowing a mix-up in our ticketing from London that resulted in our being bumped to first class . . . so suspend any sympathetic feelings for our grueling return trip.  :)  We thoroughly enjoyed every indulged moment of being in the lap of luxury for 11.5 hours.  :)

Our first week here was spent as a staff team, developing both the program and our relationships with one another. Paul and I couldn’t have been more encouraged than we were by our program team.  Our morning discussions on the Bible passages were deep, insightful, and lively.  These staff have creative, bright minds combined with authentic hearts for Jesus—and 20 of the 23 are grown-up family campers.  :) We are so, so thankful for the “harvest.”

Between orientation week and Family Camp 1, Lis, Julie, and I stole away to San Luis Obispo for 36 hours to celebrate the marriage of Nicole Framberger (a former roommate of the girls in SLO) and Brad Kyker.  It was a joyful celebration and we were really happy that it was possible to attend.

The very happy bride Nicole is flanked by Lisa, me, and Julie.

And then came Family Camp 1.  We love family camp.  We love everything about it—from the moment our campers arrive to serenading their departure with the decades-old refrain, “We love you campers, oh yes we do . . .”  Our first week of camp did not disappoint.

Tim Theule of Grace Church, San Luis Obispo, was our speaker for the week and for the fifth year in a row, did a fabulous job of teaching Biblical truth in a compelling manner.  He taught out of the Proverbs, practically and with challenge, and was well received.  We love having Tim and Susie and their four children with us; there is so much relational and spiritual health in their family.

Times of family worship highlight every morning and evening. Here, all ages enjoy doing the “The Butterfly Song” which has been a favorite at CBS since 1976.  No one is ever too young or too old to be reminded of the truth in the refrain, “But I just thank you Father for making me ME.”  Our worship team, lead by John Thiel, is doing a terrific job.

Our very creative and dramatic elementary teaching staff have developed great skits to communicate the truths of the prodigal son story.  In this photo, our 4’s and 5’s teachers, Jackie Dressler and Taylor Tebay, head off to class with their students.

The 5th and 6th grade class, lead by David Hathaway, Whitnee Sherman, and Leslie Johnston, make their way down to the waterfront for their morning activity.

“Nature Nate” (aka Nathan Smith) reveals the natural world to very engaged campers.  He has developed two programs, one featuring reptiles and insects and the other, marine biology.  Everyone loves Nature Nate!

Kaitlyn Clark keeps two of her young charges happy and safe in the playyard.

The adult small groups are an important part of our program, and we often receive feedback that they’re the highlight of the week.

The annual game show, this year entitled “Who Doesn’t Want to Eat with the Pigs” was a big hit and fun was had by all (especially because the women won!)

Colin Mansfield and his parents, Dennis and Susan, leave camp a bit early to get Colin to Westpoint. Colin has grown up at CBS family camps and it was a great privilege to send him off with a prayer of commitment from his CBS family.

Another highlight of Family Camp 1 was Josh Robertson’s baptism.  Josh decided to follow Christ last summer at camp after having a marathon question and answer time with his counselors and wanted to publicly declare his commitment to Christ through baptism this summer.  Here he stands with his brother Zach, his great-grandmother Imogene Davis, and his grandmother Janice.

Paul’s morning devotions with the kids starts the day off in the right direction.

The weekly milk carton boat race was enjoyed by many.  The Hazlebecks and Tim and Haaken Theule proudly displayed their creative design which managed to place in the race.

The week flew by.  All too quickly, we had our final session Saturday morning and sent a wonderful group of families back across the channel.  As we debriefed with our staff, we were overwhelmed by the truth that because of God’s grace and power, our finite efforts would be used to impact eternity. What a privilege!

We recreated as a staff Saturday afternoon and that night did our annual “Full Moon Loop Hike.” After watching the waxing moon all week grow in size, we were anticipating a glorious night for our hike -- but unfortunately, clouds rolled in and obscured its presence.  So, undaunted, we hiked the full moon-less loop hike and had a blast.  Oh the delights of island life!

On the full moon loop hike, we take a break and play in the playground at Haypress.  Teeter totters and swings were never more fun!

Sunday follows Saturday, and a whole new group of family campers arrive.  We’re now halfway through Family Camp 2 and things in camp continue to go really well.  We are so thankful for the leadership of Dave and Kim Noble and the rest of the team here.  They’re doing a great job.  The new chef, Louie Mays, has elevated the already good camp food to restaurant level and we’re all loving what he has brought to the kitchen.

Best of all for us personally is having Lisa here for the whole summer, providing incredible leadership to our program staff.  Specifically she’s directing the junior high/high school program and is doing a fantastic job.  It is such a gift to us to have her spend her summer this way.

So we are thankful.  So thankful.  And feeling very much at home.