Tales from the Bible Belt. Church Camp Addition

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A few weeks ago my Facebook page had a lot of people saying how much fun they had a church camp. It reminded me of my experience with church camp when I was about 10. I might have mentioned it before, I can’t remember what it was I’ve said about it, and also I’m too lazy to go look.

Short story. I hated it. I never went back and never, ever had the desire to do so again, but I do have some things that I have never forgotten about it.

I went with my cousin, who was a year or so younger than me. She went to church camp every year and seemed to love it, I was going for the first time. I remember going with my mom to get all the stuff I would need and that was a bit exciting because who doesn’t love travel sized stuff? It’s so cute, but that was where cute began and ended where camp was concerned for me.

So, we get to camp and it’s hot, because hello!, this is Oklahoma in the Summer, and it’s always hot and humid. We get to our cabin and get our bunks. I was on the top bunk. We had to bring our own fan to clip onto our bunk, because, once again it was HOT and we didn’t have an air conditioner anywhere that I remember. I’m arranging my stuff and I happen to pull back the bed sheets where I find several SPIDERS in my bed. Thus my paranoia about spiders commenced and still remains today. Anytime I’m in someplace new I always check for spiders in my bed.  Every night I lay awake, sweating and worrying about spiders, while most of my bunk mates snored.

I’m not sure how far into my stay at camp the next incident occurred but it has stayed with me since that day. A mental picture that I can play just like it happened yesterday. We were leaving our cabin one morning to meet with our counselor to go do whatever it was we were going to do that day. There, on the ground, by our front steps is a little critter. It was probably a mole, it was about that size and it was just sitting there. If you’ve ever seen a mole they tend to just sit instead of running away. I’ve since seen them do it in my own backyard. They just sit there, not moving, probably afraid. We were all looking at it and talking about it wondering just what it was, when up bounces our counselors. A guy and a girl, though I could be mistaken because it was an all girls camp and why would they have a teenage guy at an all girls camp? I still think it was a guy. He sees us looking at the critter and picks up a big rock, probably 5 pounds or more. He holds the rock about chest height and drops it on the mole, crushing it. He then picks up the rock to see his handy work. I remember red blood and a splattered mess and feeling horrified. I still feel ill thinking about it. Then the counselor walks away, wanting us to follow, like it was no big deal.

I had a really hard time understanding this. I thought about it a lot the rest of my time there and I wondered why on earth God would have allowed that guy to torture one of His creatures. It upset me and worried me and I wanted to go home, but I stayed for the rest of the week. No one else seemed to be worried about what happen, though maybe they were as upset as I was.

Each night we would go to church or revival or whatever you want to call it. Basically, we would be preached at about how sinful we can be and how we can be forgiven and be in God’s good graces and go to Heaven someday and how wonderful that would be. There would always be a call to the altar and the chance to say the sinners prayer. Which of course I said, because I didn’t want to be left out of this going to Heaven thing.

At the end of the week I was exhausted and ready to go home. I came away knowing one thing for sure though. I was never, ever going back to church camp.

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I think going to camp could be fun, but I didn’t feel like I fit in. I was not comfortable and I didn’t really feel like anyone really cared about me there. I was just one of the kids they shuffled through the machine, that was church camp.

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About theagnosticswife

Living in the bible belt, in middle America, with a once Christian husband who has turned Agnostic. I no longer know what I believe.
This entry was posted in About Me, Christian, God, Life, Tales from the Bible Belt and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Tales from the Bible Belt. Church Camp Addition

  1. Zoe Bloomer says:

    The mole incident, oh my word. T.e.r.r.i.b.l.e! Poor thing froze because it is suppose to (thanks to its evolutionary way of dealing with the possibility of sudden death) which inevitably led to its death anyway.

    I loved church camp and couldn’t get there fast enough but the last year I went (a co-ed camp and I was 13ish) I slept on the top bunk with all these spider eggs nesting inside the 2X4’s at the head of my bed. I kept telling myself that I didn’t have to worry because at least they were inside the eggs. That year was my worst year though but not because of the spiders. It was a very vulnerable time in my life and for me the whole Jesus thing/belief was love, love, love and then the conservative evangelical flavour of the late 60’s, early 70’s moved across the waters and hit us like a ton of bricks. Suddenly I was a worm, not worthy, a sinner, headed for hell. Geesh. Wasn’t my life itself already hellish? I was looking forward to heaven but now I find out “no way” . . . first think this, then do this, then ask, then receive . . . or else. Church camp changed my life and not in a good way. I’m not really sure I survived at all. 😯

  2. suzan says:

    That’s a horribly traumatic story! You poor thing! I would have been horrified if I had seen that but of course, now I imagine my daughter (11) seeing that and it makes my blood boil.
    I went to church camp for years, while I remember nothing being that bad, except for the scorpions (Texas) I always felt like I was missing something. How was I not excited about God?
    It took me well into adulthood to realize that I didn’t have to pretend.

  3. Neil Rickert says:

    I spent a week at Church camp, at around age 11. I can remember three things that I learned there:

    1: Drink tea without sugar. This was because the kids at camp had a habit of filling the sugar jar with salt (as a trick).

    2: How to short-sheet a bed. I never actually tried doing that, but at least I learned that I should check before hopping into bed.

    3: “The Darkies Sunday School.” This was a song that was partly self-depecratory humor about bible stories, and partly racism.

  4. jinkies says:

    Holy moly, did I LOOOOOOOVE church camp! It was all girls and I did learn a lot of useful outdoor things (I can make doughnuts over the fire!) I’m still friends with a couple of people but that’s it.
    I don’t miss the Jesus-y stuff at all.
    I do miss canoeing though.

    The whole mole situation though. That makes me so angry! I would definitely be traumatized and I don’t blame you for never going back.

  5. Lee says:

    What a terrible experience! And made worse by the lack of reaction from your couselor and fellow campers. I would have been so distressed by this. Wow.

    I only went to Bible Camp once, and it was in a small town (pop. 200) and taught by my sweet grandmother. We made macaroni Jesus pictures while she read us stories about the kindness of Jesus. There were about 5 of us at “camp” and it was only a day camp. So no scary stories there.

    When I joined the Unitarian Universalist Congregation as the first step in my journey to becoming a None, my mom would tell me not to tell my grandmother I went there. Apparently a close family friend joined the UU’s when he started A.A. and my grandmother did *not* approve. Approval is very important in my family too! She passed away before I had to deal with, I don’t know, breaking her heart over my choices (my mom’s opinion). I still think my grandmother would have loved me regardless and would have prayed quietly for my soul when I wasn’t looking.

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