For 20 plus years Lynn and Joan Grace host the creekside Camparama on a summer weekend. One of the perks of membership to Leona United Methodist Church is a camp pass/invite. I hesitate a few seconds to RSVP, remembering the soggy 2010 extreme croquet game at night in the rain at our first camp visit. My kids, then ten to 12 years old, and I travelled from Orlando to Troy for vacation. The weekend was a hot, wet mess. It was our Camparama initiation. A soggy but fun memory.
Eight years have passed since then. Rain or shine, true campers take on water, even minor flooding, as when the runoff from the hill puddles into a tent. No problem, just a little mud.
This year, after Sunday morning church service, there came a downpour. Campers scatter to high ground, leaving tents behind. The Grace’s know when the creek is on a fast rise. Sure enough, about a half hour of steady rain and the campsite is fit for small rafting. Campers take advantage, bobbing around on giant flamingo floats near the firepit. A half hour later, the creek recedes. No worries. Tents will dry out.
Camp fun begins Friday night, as equipment is brought in and the site is set up. Sleep before midnight is not likely, if board games come out. Rustic tarp tie downs, vacation tents with pullouts, and sturdy RVs line up neatly along creekside, with a station headquarters for the command post near the cafeteria tent. Options galore at Camparama. In the days of youth, we camped under the stars with a blanket, pillow and sleeping bag.
Eating areas are well used, snacking is ongoing, and the cafeteria is always full. “It is like the story of five loaves and two fishes, we don’t organize it, we bring what we have to offer and the good Lord blesses it,” said Mr. Jenkins, adding, “In all the years we’ve had food left over on Sunday!”
This is truly a potluck hut run by faith.
Saturday events start with craft wood and cardboard sailboat races, parts now piled up on the creekside to dry. Bingo next, setting the stage for silly antics to follow. Winners pick a prize from the goody basket. A solar powered flapping flamingo trinket is quickly chosen by a happy camper. Sneaky fingers turn it into a find the flamingo side game. The bingo is advanced, hope they didn’t notice, I’m rusty on the double card, T, postage stamp, 4 corner, it’s my birthday versions. I manage to win a rain slicker though. “Put it on,” they say, “so it won’t rain.” But I didn’t, too hot!
Cool down is a few yards to the creek bed. Grab a kayak or bright pink flamingo raft and go. A fawn peaks out of the woods downstream, probably wondering about the volleyball players’ screeches, ages 19-75, with grunts and laughing out loud. Just as much fun to watch as to play.
Time is sailing away, no clocks in the woods. The sun is ordering the day. As the “official” declares a team tie, it’s break time. Seats begin to quickly fill under a large canopy as talent show contestants check in and judges are given their list.
Four acts: boys doing tricks in inner tubes, stand up comedy, large and small dog commands and the harmonica guy. Winners are each given a handmade wood timber trophy, about as tall as the presenters who made them! Have to give kudos to the three young crafty guys who officiate all the talent and field games.
The badminton double elimination tournament, a two day event, starts with slight controversy over the term shuttlecock vs. birdie. It is settled by the verdict, you say tomayto, I say tomahto. Cheers and giggles go on as the birdie flies. Non campers continue to arrive with more dishes to pass for dinner and happy hours (no alcohol). The grilling station is flaming with burgers and dogs. Campers count on Joanie’s chili sauce, Joy’s cookies, Barb’s potato salad, Dawn’s sticky buns, and other favorites. The cafeteria is open all night to slip in and out at your leisure. So much to be grateful for.
Time moves swiftly, carefree like the wind. Hoola Hoops dangle in the trees above in all colors as the day slips into dusk. On the east end a fire pit is loaded with kindling and spit logs, chairs ready in a ring.Nearby the kids make glow in the dark lanterns and “adornments” for glow tag fun.
Customary smores and songs develop as a circle of friends gather round. Tales unfold from happy people, feeling blessed to be together again. Favorite camp mottos? “If it’s not fun-it ain’t here,” or, “Right here for summer cheer.”
I’d say, what’s happening is way beyond fun, or, “No drama at Camparama!”