How Can You Not Like Camp?

Being a little kid who got poison ivy so badly I had to go to the hospital for it once, I never gave Camp Swatara a chance. I mean, it wasn’t just the poison ivy, my little league baseball seemed more important and you can’t play your games in Spring City if you’re sitting in the woods at the base of a mountain by the Appalachian Trail. So, I never went to camp and when people asked me why I came up with the story that I didn’t like camp.
It occurred to me as I visited camp several weeks ago that I have never, ever met anyone else who didn’t like Camp Swatara. I mean no one. The conclusion here is very obvious: I’m the one who missed out on a real good thing. This year Camp Swatara is in the middle of celebrating its seventy-fifth anniversary. It has grown into a multidimensional recreation facility that includes a resort like lodge, a huge family camping area and the main camping area that has been in place for seventy-five years. It has touched thousands of lives with its message of the joy of living in this beautiful world God has given us.
I didn’t appreciate what camp could do until my children got involved. The beginning was not easy. Our oldest, Jonathan, wanted to go badly but Joan objected. Some of it was because of the sectarian division that plagued our house, but it turned out the main reason was because she was afraid he would literally “get eaten by a bear.” When Marlin Houff, the camp director, called and assured her that they had never lost a child did Jonathan get the ok. He loved it and the avalanche started. All my kids went and they loved it too – from junior camps, to sports camps, to nature camps, to mountainside camps, to musical camps, to offsite travel camps – everyone of them and I’m sure they would tell you that it was a big part of their summer and their lives in general. Joshua worked at camp for two summers and received the camp scholarship for someone attending a Brethren College (Bridgewater). Sara worked at camp for six summers and continues to volunteer regularly. Green Tree has had many people spend summers working or helping at camp. Colleen Ford worked for three summers and still volunteers extensively. Kim Hallman worked there and Florence List was camp nurse for many, many years. Andy Simon is on the staff right now.
I think the importance of camp did not strike me with its fullest impact until Jane Frain asked me if I would take her brother, Ron Pierce, who is a pastor and college professor of theology, up to camp for a visit while he was in from California spending time with his family. Ron received his call to ministry while at camp and wanted to spend some time remembering that lifechanging event.
So yes, camp is a fun place but God is at work there. Here at Green Tree, we see so many of our youth and our younger kids spending time there and obviously good things happen at Camp Swatara. It took me the better part of a lifetime to figure that out. Pastor Rod

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