Memories: Beach Camp

06 August 2011

I knew I wanted to write a post about my experiences at Bethany Beach over the years but as I sit here I find it's really hard to begin. How can you put into one post how you feel about a camp? About a place that has been so integral to who you are as a person? It feels impossible. I guess to begin I should explain why Bethany Beach, for me, is not just a beach.

First I'll leave you with some links in case you're curious.

The History
To begin, my mom's father was a pastor at a non-denominational church in Maryland. Of course their family was religious, involved, and always encouraged spiritual experiences. That's how they began working closely with church camps in their district. So, in essence, my grandfather had been a leader in church camps, my mom had been to this beach every year of her life, and, now, it is an essential part of my sister's and my own life. 

The Place
This isn't your ordinary beach trip. We don't stay in a house with just our family. Instead we have dorms (of which more than half don't have A/C) and we eat meals together in the Tabernacle.

It's sort of a mini campus with older buildings: one dorm-style, two houses (with A/C for camp directors, counselors, and kitchen staff), a one story four-bedroom building, the Tabernacle (kitchen, etc.), a chapel, and a playground. It's only about two blocks from the beach.

The Camps
For the majority of my life I've been doing something called Family Camp which means you go with your family and meet other families. It's not just for a certain age, it's supposed to be a bonding experience for your familial unit. 

We meet for all meals of the day, have songs, games, and group activities in the morning. Then we split up by age for study time. We meet for lunch, go to the beach for the afternoon, and return for dinner. After dinner we have vespers (an evening worship service) and then are free to roam the boardwalk until bed. 

I've also gone for CYF (high school) camps. Those are different even from the family camps. You meet people for the first time and by the end of the week you know every hardship, joy, and secret they have to share. 

The Beach
The beach of course is an ever-present setting that provides the final 'Ahhh' moment. It's a place of beauty and joy that creates this perfect environment for all these spiritual and emotional happenings. It's fairly crowded the majority of the time but it's right next to the boardwalk with ice cream, and fries, and drinks. 

Summary of the Big Things
  • It will forever remind me of my mom
  • This is the place I am most likely to be convinced of a God or bigger picture
  • It is the only place left with untarnished memories of my family (before the relationship with my dad broke and we lost our mom)
  • It's beautiful
  • The wonderful, sincere people around me that shower me with love and kindness
  • The music that speaks to me
  • Constant smiles 
  • Little kids dancing or singing or running in the sand
  • Talking or playing ping pong late into the night
  • Singing "Announcements" or "Get Your Elbows Off the Table"
  • Vespers, or worship services, that move me beyond myself
There really is no way to put into words what this camp means to me. Over the years of family camps and CYF camps it's come to be a lot of things but it truly is the only haven left that reminds me of my childhood and easy days. I'm so lucky to have Noah and he has taken my hand and helped me create a new, wonderful life for me and him, but when I want to look at the past or remember the old times, this is where I want to be. 


MrsKinne said...

This is lovely. And, as a former camp counselor, I can say that camp is a part of your life that never leaves you.

Linda said...

Sounds a wonderful experience. And I'm struck by how sunkissed everyone is!

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