Oak Hill Christian Service Camp

It’s Monday morning, July 22 at 10:54 AM.
I should be at Gethsemane practicing with the Music & Drama Crew… but I’m not.
Interestingly enough – here is a post sitting in my drafts from two years ago, July 24, 2017…

Titled: Missing Music & Drama
It’s Saturday morning, July 24 at 10:16 AM.
I should be frantically running through my house, checking a list, and loading up my car to head to the week of camp that I am Dean of at Oak Hill Camp.  I’m not.
I cannot tell you how this makes me feel.  There are too many feelings in my body to properly categorize them all, but I can tell you that I know I’m going to miss this week of camp this year.
I became a camper at this week at the age of 12 (summer of 1990).
I missed the year I was 13 for some reason I can’t remember, but from 1992 until 2016 I’ve been at Oak Hill Camp for Music & Drama every summer.
In 1996, at the age of eighteen, I became a staff member.
*Note – this was NOT a wise decision as my best friend and ex-boyfriend were both campers and spent the week making out in front of me.  So not fun.
In 1999 I became a Dean alongside my mother and my closest camp friend from my life, Christie.
In 2004 my mom handed over the directing reins to me and Christie.
Since that time, I’ve sat in front of the choir and directed.  THIRTEEN years of directing the group.  That’s a huge chunk (1/3) of my 39 years of life.
I won’t be directing this year and this is causing all sorts of “feelings”.
Why I’m not attending this year and why I’m not directing were in a post I shared yesterday. I’m making the right decision as we have no clue what Monday holds with my daddy’s surgery.

First – daddy’s surgery to remove the cancerous tumor from inside his heart was 100% successful. However, the melanoma moved to his brain in 2018 and he returned to God on November 5, 2018.

Now let’s update that list above.
I became a camper at Music & Drama at the age of 12 (summer of 1990).
I missed the year I was 13 for some reason I can’t remember, but from 1992 until 2016 I’ve been at Oak Hill Camp for Music & Drama every summer.
I missed the year I was 39 (2017) for my daddy’s heart surgery.
In 1996, at the age of eighteen, I became a staff member.
In 1999 I became a Dean alongside my mother and my closest camp friend from my life, Christie.
In 2004 my mom handed over the directing reins to me and Christie.
Since that time, I sat in front of the choir and directed.
14 years directing; 19 years as a dean – that’s a long commitment.

I’ve been asked a lot this Summer why I resigned from that week. A lot of reasons were behind my decision – some I don’t speak of because they are incredibly personal for me. I can just tell you that when I missed camp in 2017 it wasn’t just for my daddy’s surgery. It was God’s way of showing me that *I* was not essential to Music & Drama. As the saying goes, “The show went on…” without me. In some ways that hurt, but in many ways it allowed God to work in my life in other ways.

What isn’t included in that list above is that in 1979, at the age of 4-6 months old, I was at Oak Hill Camp with my mama who was either cooking or helping the cook. I slept in the bunk area above the kitchen.
Every summer since then, I’ve been at Oak Hill – as a staff kid first and then as a camper.
In 1992, at the age of 14, I became a Junior Counselor (JC) at Oak Hill. It was something I had spent years dreaming of and planning for. Sure – it was going to be a lot of work, but I knew it was also going to be a lot of fun.
That Summer – 1992 – I spent every single week at camp. I was a JC at both First Chance weeks (each three days at the time; one Sunday – Wednesday the second Wednesday – Saturday), both Junior weeks (3rd – 5th grade), and both Junior High weeks (6th – 8th grade). I was a camper at both senior high weeks and Music & Drama.
Every Sunday, my parents drove me out to Oak Hill and helped me set up my bunk. Every Saturday, my parents picked me up, took me home, and (daddy) did my laundry while I slept. Eight weeks full of camp and that was BLISS.
I was a JC for several Summers, though that was the only Summer I “lived” at camp.

That said, it’s been a couple decades since I worked at a Junior Week of camp… Yes – I’ve *taught* at Junior 2 (Beast Mode) for two Summers before this one, but I’ve driven out, taught, and left. I’ve spoken at Vespers and Campfire. I’ve presented Missions and I’m visited, but I haven’t worked a full week of camp (outside of Music & Drama) in 23 years. I’d almost forgotten all that goes into running a “normal” week of camp – especially recreation!

In September of 2018, when I told the Camp Board that I was resigning from Music & Drama, Heather Ferguson – who I had been at camp besties with since Middle School – approached me about working her Junior week full time in 2019. Full time means a bunk in a cabin, a daily job (teaching the same class I taught in 2017 and 2018), and being part of a team. There were some things to work out – mainly Joe.
Ella’s love of Oak Hill is going to rival mine. She started out as a staff kid at 8 months old and joined me for the camp portion of Music & Drama for four Summers before her brother was born. Two camp kids is harder to do, so in 2013 my mama retired from M&D and began grandma’s beach camp during my week at camp. Ella attended Beast Mode as a camper in 2018 and absolutely loved it so I knew she was on board for this year. Joe, though, was only going into 2nd grade and still 6. He’d be younger than every other camper, but the camp board was okay since I was going to be there on staff. So, with Joe squared away, I signed on to work Beast Mode full time.

I’m gonna be honest – I was SUPER NERVOUS last Sunday (July 14). Beast Mode is not remotely my speed. There is an obstacle course that includes “beasts” and a mud pit, there are color wars, there is a staff hunt (super fun at 15, but super scary at 41), and Ultimate Kickball where the bases were a pool of ice, a pool of Elf Spaghetti, a pool of mud and a slip n slide. Thankfully, Heather appreciated my love for all things photos so I got out of a lot of the things I was scared of because I was photographing other people doing them.
There was also the element of it being a JUNIOR week… even with swing years, these kids were rising 2nd – 6th graders and I’ve spent nearly all my camp Summers with kids who are 13-18 years old. No one at Music & Drama leaves their Bible at the kick ball field. (Who am I kidding… I can’t remember the last time Music & Drama used the kick ball field for anything other than activities tied to the looking at the moon.)
Was I cut out to deal with such young campers????? (The jury is still out on that question.)

Y’all – I had THE. BEST. TIME. I mean, I’d do it again right this minute if I could and I’d actually play Ultimate Kickball, handing my phone off to someone else to gather evidence. (Hold me to that statement, Beast Mode crew!) While I am still mulling over becoming a dean of a different week of camp, I’m also thinking that I may do that in 2021 instead of 2020. I may need another year of Beast Mode under my belt to prepare me for other work. We’ll see what God has planned, but he definitely cultivated a love for this week of camp in my heart. And, yes, I am missing Music & Drama – it has been a huge part of nearly 3/4 of my life, but God made last week have a huge impact on who I am and where I am heading.
Teaching these kids was fun in 2017 and 2018, but teaching kids that I was actually getting to know was life changing. Knowing their names (well most of them) made the class more enjoyable for me.
Reminding JCs to sit among the campers was something to check off in 2017 and 2018, but reminding JCs of their importance in 2019 was personal because I want them to succeed and go on to become deans running weeks of camp they’ve loved like I did.

Oak Hill Christian Service Camp has been a part of my life for my entire life and I’m so glad I didn’t let this year go by without being out there in a full-time capacity. I was BLESSED getting to know staff members and JCs that I have had little to no contact with in the years I’ve been insulated at Music & Drama. They are wonderful kids and adults and I feel like I’ve missed out on something by not knowing them.

I’m so grateful for parents who loved Oak Hill and instilled that love within me.

I know that God will keep me tied to the camp in the coming years and decades and I cannot wait to see how HE is going to use ME there.

If you are looking for a SAFE place to send your kids to sleep away camp… a place where they will learn about Jesus and have incredible Christian examples who will care about them… look no further than Oak Hill Christian Service Camp.

If you have a middle school student – we have one more week left in this Season!!
A week I, myself, think is going to be one of the coolest weeks of the Summer.
Check out the teaser here: https://www.instagram.com/p/B0CniKgFjr-ULl1ImbHhDmgpHPX0iPP1MjSUgo0/

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