Camp holds a prominent place in our family history. During the summers of my college years, I was most often at Camp Seafarer. Growing up in New Bern, NC, I had looked longingly at this camp but I went to Camp Don Lee. I loved my time at Don Lee, but once every week we would walk through the neighboring Camp Sea Gull, brother camp to Seafarer, to go shark tooth hunting. Their pristine cabins, manicured grass, thousands of colorful sails bobbing in the Neuse River, motorboats zipping around in a circle … it all looked so inviting. So, when I was contemplating what to do during the summer after my freshman year, I thought, “Seafarer!”
Sailing staff one year, and then after that I was an Assistant Head Counselor to one of my still best buddies, Carolyn.
What a summer that was! I had come off a horrific junior year full of bad decisions and truly was at the end of myself. Too proud to let anyone see my doubts, insecurities, and fears, I jumped into camp and kept my real heart hidden. But, Carolyn and others loved me, and most importantly showed me Christ. They didn’t preach to me. Because of my “southern good girl” exterior, they, in all likelihood assumed that I was a Christian, just a very young Christian. They didn’t say much of anything to me about Jesus, they just showed Him to me.
I went to my first-ever Bible study. Fitting in was SO important to me so I took my Bible with me, a white leather-ish King James with my full name engraved in the bottom right corner. I had received it at my confirmation when I was 12 and it was the only Bible I had. This was a Bible study, right? But I wasn’t sure whether you were supposed to bring a BIBLE. My thoughts were, “Maybe, if you really know the Bible, you don’t have to take it.” So, I was prepared to ditch it on the way if it became apparent that other people didn’t have a Bible. My biggest fear was that someone would ask me to look up a verse and I would have to turn to the Table of Contents to find it. As I approached the open-air hut, I saw that the gals and GUY had Bibles with them, so I brought mine on in. The GUY seemed to be leading, so I just kind of sat down. He gave the chapter and verse and I astutely, nonchalantly looked around to see about where other people were turning. Casually I flipped toward the back until I found it … 1 Corinthians 13.
Love. We were talking about love.
Now, this GUY was cute. I remembered the first time I had ever laid eyes on him. He was in Motorboating talking on the phone. For some of you this is shocking, but the phone was attached to the wall with a CORD. He really was tethered to the phone, right in the doorway looking out over the river. I remember walking by him and thinking, “He’s cute.”
So, Cute Motorboating Guy was leading a Bible study on love. “This isn’t so bad, I thought.” Now, he really was talking about Jesus’s love for us and how through Jesus, we can love each other with patience, kindness … Not too bad. I liked this. After Bible study, CMG asked me to for a walk on the pier, so we did. I don’t know what we talked about, but the stars were out, the water was shining in the moonlight, waves were lapping the shore. This was pretty good. All we did was walk and talk, but God used that night to broaden my understanding of Him from a “way up high kind of God who is just waiting to punish me,” to someone who is still really “way up high,” but also really loves me and showed me so through the death of His Son on the cross.
During that summer, my heart was touched by the real love I saw in the girls around me. CMG and I stayed friends, and I went back to school that fall. That semester as a Young Life LEADER (another story) I heard the reality of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in a way that I had begun to hear, see, and experience that summer. I heard it in a way that connected with me, met me in my need, and created a hunger in my heart to whole-heartedly pursue Jesus. That Christmas I wrote in my journal, “I know why my life has been so messed up. I’ve been at the center. Jesus, now I want you at the center.”
Back to Seafarer for an amazing summer as a Head Counselor along with three other amazing women, Carolyn, Ann, and Harriet. Carolyn, Ann, and I became roommates the next year. And, as for CMG, I married him a few years later. 🙂