Farewell, CBS 2011

The record-setting 32 staff take a “staff only” hike along the shore.

We blinked and 7 weeks were history at Campus By the Sea.  Twenty-four hours ago, we once again left the rocky shore of this sacred place. I want to relate some of the amazing stories of the summer, which remind us that the summer extends far beyond the days we’re here.

And that’s because it’s not about us or what we do, but about the Spirit of God, who faithfully meets us and our 200 (on average) campers per week in ways that exceed our imaginations.  Every week, part of His story for each person in camp is written, and some of those stories are read aloud, while others are tucked away in the hearts and souls of those for whom they are written.

But first, a brief recap of the past five weeks.  Camp 2 was full of adrenaline, as is always true when Ray Johnston speaks at CBS.  Lots of laughter, fun, and inspiration with Ray—and the joy for us of continuing the journey with the Johnston family—all six of whom were at family camp.  We always love hanging with them.

Family Camp 3 with David and Cherylyn Hegg was our only not-full camp of the summer.  For some reason the 4th of July camp, when the 4th falls on Friday through Monday, struggles to fill, and this year was no exception.  There are certain clear advantages of a camp of 120, but since we know how impactful family camps are, we lamented the empty beds.  That didn’t keep us from throwing ourselves fully into the wonderful group of families who gathered this week, and again we experienced God at work among us.  It seemed as though the American Bison that live on Catalina Island heard of our low enrollment, so several of them joined us in camp for the entire week . . . at times, settling to rest right on paths, effectively cutting off several “commuter trails” in camp.  Paul and I even began carrying flashlights to avoid having a collision with one of these over-stuffed, burly, generally tame—but still wild—bison.   They definitely upped the “wow” factor in camp.

The highlight for us, though, was not the bison in camp, but having a large Boston contingent in camp, including the Martises, Steeles, and Welches.  It was a first for Jim, Sue, and Matthew Martis, and we loved introducing them to our “real” world.  As always, we also loved hanging out with David and Cherylyn.  Great people.

New England had a fair representation at camp 3 with the Welches, Barbara Steele, Linda Lue Leiserson, and the Martis family.

Howard Clark taught at family camp 4 and was deeply appreciated for his rich teaching.  So many commented at the banquet on Howard’s sessions, most acknowledging that it was a rare treat to hear such profound teaching.  Most memorable this week was having Garth and Rosemary Dougan in camp.  Now 88 and 86, their level of remarkability just increases.  Garth had actually spent a few days in the hospital the week before, so their ability to come to camp was in question.  There was not a dry eye in the Main Deck on Monday night when they sneaked in at the end of singing.  What great joy especially for their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren, all who had gathered for a family reunion at CBS.

A treasured moment with Garth and Rosemary Dougan and the program staff.

Lisa, Kari, Brandon, and I left before family camp 4 was over to attend a family wedding in Petersburg, VA.  Though it’s very difficult to leave camp at all during the summer, we couldn’t miss the wedding of our niece, Emily Newman, so we went and had a great time.  It was a joy to celebrate the union of this very special niece and the great man God has brought into her life.  The trip, though exhausting, was made much easier by the fact that Brandon acted like a seasoned traveler and was so easy.  Praise God!  Could’ve been a nightmare.  :)

We made a quick, 4-day trip to Virginia to honor our niece, Emily, as she married Kevin Frith.  Standing between Lisa and me is our nephew Frankie.

Family Camp 5 was packed, full of life, and smooth.  David and Carrie Tebay served as our resource couple and David’s teaching on Matthew 16:24 was phenomenal.  It was hard-hitting within a framework of grace—and again, many of the comments at the banquet affirmed that God had spoken through David. Our annual staff hike to “Lone Tree” happened on Wednesday of this week, and we were blessed with a perfect-for-hiking marine layer which made the 8.5 mile hike much easier.

David and Carrie Tebay carried on the strong Tebay tradition of excellent Biblical teaching, as well as of modeling strong family life.

And then camp 6 arrived.  By now, we veterans knew that this summer would stand out as one of the best ever, so we reinforced the importance of finishing well and committed ourselves to leaving it all “on the beach.”  We welcomed camp 6 as though our freshness and energy were at camp 1 levels and we reminded ourselves that we're about “honoring God, honoring the community, and honoring the community standards so we could serve the campers well”—and the staff did it. They stepped up. They dug deep.  And they served with humility, perseverance, and joy.  We've never felt better about the quality, unity, and humility of the entire team, from program staff to facilities staff to camp leadership.

Gary Gaddini spoke for camp 6 and he’s just incredibly gifted in teaching truth with relevance and grace.  He’s infectious.  His teaching through the book of Habakkuk was profound and God used him to speak to the hearts of so many.  Very powerfully.

Gary and Anne Gaddini helped us finish well by speaking at our last family camp.

It’s hard to put into words just how rich this summer was, because all 35 summers we’ve had at CBS have been rich in different ways.

But this one will go down in history as one of the best, if not the best, summers ever.  We’ve thought a lot about what made it so special, and there are many things.  At the top of the list was having Dennis and Susan Mansfield with us as the ”Dean and Deana” of Little Gallagher’s (our staff-housing cove).   This now empty-nested couple, who spent 28 summers bringing their kids to family camp, served alongside us and invested mightily in the staff.  Susan directed our children’s program as well as crafts, and Dennis  . . . well, he didn’t have a job description per se, but he spent hours of each day interacting personally with staff, caring for them, challenging them, loving on them.  It was pure gold to have them in the community this summer.

Having Gabe, Kari, and Brandon on the team was another huge factor.  Gabe designed the staff training material, led the men’s study, and with Kari, led our college group each week.  They also invested greatly in staff.  And best of all, having a baby on staff again brought joy to all.  And I’m not just saying that because I’m his grandma.  He brightened everyone’s days with his “Big Easy” disposition and ready smiles.

Gabe, Kari, and Brandon are ready for the final banquet of the 2011 season.

The addition of Chef D’Arcy LeTourneau and his beautiful family contributed to the specialness.  Not only were the meals out of this world (it will actually be a huge adjustment to return to our very simple style of eating after this summer!), but even more, the spirit of the LeTourneaus was refreshing.  Their commitment to serve every camper in the dining hall joyfully and well was remarkable and unflagging.

Chef D’Arcy and his family love on Brandon, whom they love in spite of his allegiance to the Red Sox. (D’Arcy’s favorite team cannon even be mentioned here.)

Another factor was the depth of unity among the leadership at camp.  We so love partnering with Dave and Kim Noble and their team and appreciate their commitment to working together to make family camps the best they can be.

Hopefully it won’t sound too shallow to add that having perfect weather (especially contrasted with last summer’s coolness and very cold water), warm water (I know that’s a relative statement), and daily sightings of eagles, bison, dolphins, and deer all added to the mix.

Each week God brought an eclectic but wonderful group of families to CBS, and we believed that each family was appointed to be at camp when they were.  Safe community happens at CBS by God’s grace, and each week we shared each other’s joys and struggles.  We prayed for each other, we celebrated significant moments together, we worshiped together, we bore one another’s burdens, and we spurred one another on to love and good deeds.   Each banquet night was full of sharing, affirming that God had done a powerful work among us during our days together.  We heard stories of hope renewed.  Of visions born.  Of commitments made.  Of truth understood.  Of souls refreshed.  Of energy renewed.  Of the goodness of God.

Each week as the boat pulled away from the dock and our staff team sang the time-worn but sincere song, “We love you campers, oh yes do!” even as exhaustion settled in after giving it our all for the previous 6 days, we weren’t too tired to be aware that we had just been part of something way bigger than ourselves . . . nor was it lost on us that whatever had just happened was something that we couldn't have accomplished on our own.  That might be the key to the summer.  This staff seemed to get to a deeper degree that this summer wasn’t about them but about Him.  That it wasn’t just about now, but about eternity.  They “got” that they’d best support and love each other in the community by submitting to the authority set over them, and they did so remarkably.  It was truly one of the most servant-hearted, unselfish, ego-less staffs we’ve ever had and we are honored to have been able to partner with them this summer.

The staff send off our last family camp with the tradition of singing “We love you campers, oh yes we do!” one more time.

We are pooped, but in the best sort of way.  Our hearts are so full of gratitude for these past seven weeks.  Paul told the staff at our final worship time yesterday that though he came into the summer dragging his heels and lacking creativity and vision for the summer,  he is actually leaving this summer refreshed.  That probably says it best.

Rather than setting, he sun rises over the end of our 2011 family camp season at CBS.
(photo courtesy of Bill Crandall)