Summer Camp Forever!

John Jacob Jingleheimer

Summer Memories

In my memory, the words summer and camp are inseparable. Our local YMCA had an extensive program for teenies through teenagers, and I was hooked!

Little Kids Camp was held in a pine-filled grove right there in suburban SoCal (we went home each night). It was “pretend-you’re-in-the-mountains,” with hikes, knot-tying (I remember nothing), and campfires (I remember it all). We sang silly songs (“John Jingleheimer Schmidt,” “Do Your Ears Hang Low”) and did even sillier skits.

One skit involved a man (boy) being dunked in the water over and over again, and each time being asked, “Do you believe?” The last time he’s asked, “What do you believe?” and he replies, “I believe you’re trying to drown me!” I laughed, but I didn’t get it. Being from a thoroughly worldly family, I’d never even heard of baptism.

Then on to Big Kids Camp! Camp Osceola was in the Southern California mountains. We got to sleep in pine cabins every night! And to ride horses and swim and eat in a bona fide pine-paneled mess hall!

One leader tried (and failed) to teach us etiquette. He explained that it was impolite to prop our silverware up against our plates. “Why?” I asked. “Well, um, because ants will walk right up it onto your plate!” he said. And I thought, “My mom would never allow ants in our house!”

But there were deeper truths. One overnight hike went all the way to the top of Old Greyback (Mt. San Gorgonio), SoCal’s highest peak. The rule was: We hike as a group–everyone gets to the top!

Not a bad rule for the year 2020. 

Truths were snuck in during campfires as well. After the requisite goofy songs, skits and announcements, a leader would tell a modern day parable. To me they were just stories. And yet they rumbled around in my head when I lay in my sleeping bag later. One particularly impacted me:

A struggling architect is hired by a rich man to build a lavish house, no expenses spared. Resentful of the man’s wealth, he uses the flimsiest of materials and cuts every possible corner, basically constructing a beautiful pile of junk. When he’s finished, the rich man praises his work, unhesitatingly pays him, and then says, “Because I appreciate your integrity, my friend, I’m giving you this house!”

As a result of the truths planted in my worldly little heart, I developed a hunger for something more, to wit, for the Source of the truths peppered amongst those hikes and silly camp songs.

I walked and prayed this morning in our local urban woods, and thought, as I often do of my summer camp days. And of how grateful I am for the truths imparted to me. But most of all I’m grateful that I finally learned to connect…

With the Source of those truths.

About mitchteemley

Writer, Filmmaker, Humorist, Thinker-about-stuffer
This entry was posted in For Pastors and Teachers, Humor, Memoir and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to Summer Camp Forever!

  1. Beck says:

    “Because I appreciate your integrity my friend, I am giving you this house”
    Isn’t that such a truth? What a great nugget of truth.
    And a great post. So many wonderful memories from summer camp!
    It’s amazing how seeds are sown and grow and bear fruit… one day.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. revruss1220 says:

    Many thanks for that wonderful trip down memory lane! Memories of my youth are also sprinkled liberally with summer camp scenes. Canoeing and archery were probably my favorite activities. (And no… my ears neither hang low, NOR do they wobble to and fro!)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. joyroses13 says:

    Ahh! Summer camp is wonderful. I spent my summer’s in HS working at summer camps as a counselor and loved it! Worked a few years after HS too, camp just gets in your blood!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Nancy Ruegg says:

    You caused visions of camp-memories to dance in my head, Mitch! I was blessed to attend several Christian camps during my growing up years. Extended time in God’s creation does augment our connection with him. I remember spending 15-20 minutes or so before breakfast out under the trees for quiet time–each person under his or her “own” tree. The atmosphere of fresh pine-scented air, birdsong, and soft breezes augmented the experience. Now all these decades later, I still love to settle on our deck as the sun rises to spend time with my Heavenly Father–as long as the weather permits. Summer camp forever, indeed! (P.S. a favorite activity one year: constructing hobo stoves out of large juice cans, building small fires inside, and cooking an egg-in-a-frame on top. Great fun!)

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Pastor Randy says:

    Great insights! Amazing the memories that rise up just when we need them.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. but did they ever send you to get the keys to the oarlocks?

    Liked by 3 people

  7. You had me at “silly songs.” (Where else could I get a “Do Your Ears Hang Low?” refererence?!) I have such fond memories of summer camp!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. A pleasant post highlighting special memories. Hopefully next summer will bring a return to camps for young people. I did not go to camp as a youngster, but we spent many days on various lakes in Arizona, and many weekends camping around our beautiful state. I cherish those memories. I also cherished time as a camp leader when my daughter was a Girl Scout. 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  9. Piano girl says:

    It truly is a journey.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Dolly Vas says:

    Journey is amazing, really nice.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. How hopeful that the Source of All Truth, knows us and loves us; even from our earliest remembrance.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Love the parable about the architect.  It also works with an unobvious take on the rich man’s motivation for the gift.  Maybe his wealth comes from being a truly astute businessman (not just an astute chooser of his parents, like DJT).  Maybe he is so astute as to see how crappy the house is.  Sure, he could balk at paying or sue the bastard.  But he also sees a more imaginative way to teach the architect a lesson.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Pingback: The Year I Almost Believed | Mitch Teemley

  14. Pingback: I Was (Almost) a 12-Year-Old Star! | Mitch Teemley

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