MICHELE HUEY: Recalling camp time
Special-Tea: Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 -- I lift up my eyes to the mountains. — Psalm 121:1 NIV
We did a lot of camping when the kids were young enough to enjoy a week at a campground in the Pennsylvania mountains. I’d work like crazy the days before a trip, cleaning the camper, doing laundry and packing enough clothes and food for five people for a week, and making macaroni and potato salad and whatever else I could prepare beforehand so I wouldn’t have to cook. It was a lot of work, but worth it once we set up camp.
Nowadays we don’t do any camping at all. We’ve thought about it, but it just wouldn’t be the same without the kids. Besides, I no longer have the energy to do all the prep work.
But how I long for the mountains! Even though I live on a mountain, in a log-sided house on a hill against the woods, it’s not the same as packing up the RV and heading somewhere else.
It’s hard to truly rest at home. The do-list is never-ending, and calls to us even when we’re sitting on the back deck, enjoying a few moments of downtime. At home, everywhere we look, there’s work — mowing, gardening, cleaning, repairing — always something. But when we’re away, the list has no power. That’s because we’re on “camp time.”
Camp time — where neither clocks nor schedules drive you. Where you get up when you’re ready, eat when you’re hungry, and simple chores are fun to do. Where you can read all day and even take a nap and not feel guilty. Where you can’t get a good signal for your cell phone or whatever technology that’s become an appendage, yet somehow you feel freed. Where the symphony of the birds and the wind in the trees plays to your heart like a lullaby. Where the only crisis is a skunk that wandered under the porch.
Notice I wrote “where,” not “when.” You see, camp time is a place. Don’t believe me? Try having camp time at home. Or at a friend’s. Even if you go on a retreat, your time is scheduled.
I learned about camp time when my parents bought a rustic cabin the mountains near Cook Forest when I was nine. Although we no longer own it — we sold it to close friends who invite us to use it whenever we want — it hasn’t lost its power to calm my spirit. It is — and will always — be my special place.
A poem we found in my father’s wallet when he died sums up what camp time means to me: “High up in the lofty mountains is a cabin small but grand; Where I go when things perplex me, where I seek to understand.” (I can’t remember the rest of it, and I haven’t been able to find it online.) At the end, the author writes that, after his camp time, he’s ready to face the world.
Jesus told His disciples after a hectic day of ministering to the throngs to “Come with me by yourselves to quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6:31). It was camp time.
Thank You, Lord, for camp time! May I be wise enough to use it as often as I need to. Amen.