This week has been a busy one! We have had old friends come visit, held a banquet for Benton County Hall of Fame, put on a naming ceremony recognizing our most generous donors, trained the summer staff and hosted a University of Memphis Campus School group. Tomorrow, two members of the camp family tied the knot with us. Phew! Camp hasn’t even started yet!
The variety of events this week got me thinking about all the people who are changed by the work we do here, and how many generations back the camp history goes.
One of the old friends who came to visit was Uncle Ben. You know the sign on the Gazebo that reads, “God loves you, and so does Uncle Ben”? THAT Uncle Ben. He hasn’t been to camp in more than ten years, but he used to drive campers from Collierville in a bus nearly every week of the summer. When he was here, he’d hand out little warm fuzzies like this one.
Before that, he did the original staff counselor training before there was a Tiffany Dowdy or a Troy Taylor. There is a manual. We still have it because Uncle Ben knew what he was talking about. I had the joy of touring him around camp on a bumpy golf cart ride, and he loved it! Camp looks different since the last time he came, but it’s still very much the same. The spirit of Lakeshore is timeless.
We waved Uncle Ben goodbye and started getting ready for our friends from the Benton County Hall of Fame. Lots of them traveled from several hours away to be inducted. For many of them, it was nice to be home, and we were happy to offer such hospitality. Sometimes a nice dinner and a ceremony with a view is the only connection people have to Lakeshore, but I guarantee they feel that spirit.
The next day, we invited some of our generous donors to come to the unveiling of the buildings they named after loved ones. We prayed, we sang, we thanked them, and we gave a shout out to the many volunteers it took to complete this work.
In the midst of all these things, our Summer Staff of 2017 has moved in, prepared their activities, and learned all about what it means to work here. They have spent long hours going over Emergency Action Plans to be prepared for any scenario, they have learned how to deal with homesickness, how to bond a cabin, how to redirect campers’ attention and more. They have bonded as a staff, and they are so ready for the kids to get here.
They got a little practice with a pre-summer retreat from the University of Memphis Campus School. These kids come every year and get to experience all the fun activities of camp with their classmates and teachers. Sometimes, they grow up to become volunteer counselors because of all the fun they had here.
To finish off the week before camp, Josh Hays and Millie Cagle got married here this weekend, and we are beyond excited for them. They are Lakeshore family through and through, and we are thrilled to be the place they say “I do.”
So many people for so many years have made sweet memories, life-long friends and had life-altering moments at Lakeshore Camp and Retreat Center, and our ministry is just getting started. As we kickoff our 70th summer on the shores of the TN River, I’m struck with the connection of it all. They say it takes a village, and it certainly has. Uncle Ben’s time serving here may be finished, but his legacy lives on in counselor training, a foundation of our ministry that all of our summer staff have been through and that nearly 40 more volunteers attended this spring. We couldn’t do the work we do without dedicated people like Uncle Ben, volunteers wanting to spend their weekend getting trained or remodeling cabins, generous donors helping us continue to improve camp and continue the work we started in 1948. We wouldn’t have work to do if parents and churches didn’t send their kids to spend a week on the shore, having fun and experiencing life, love and the God of Grace.
All of us, working together, playing together, spending time in this place is the ministry itself. God works through the moments, the laughs, the work and the rest. If you want your child to experience all that we have in store for the campers this summer, register here, or if you have missed your time here and want to reconnect, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or (731) 584-6102.