July 5, 2011

Family, Family, FAMILY!

We were all unexpectedly surprised when we learned that we had a chance to go to Camp Spofford in New Hampshire the last week of June. Frankly, half of us kids weren't even excited. I mean... We'd never been to camp. Camp is where you wear t-shirts in bright neon colors and wake up with shaving cream in your hair and fight with people who look like you? Parent Trap? right? But as rumors (and rumors of rumors) began to circulate about the yearly delights of Camp Spofford- excitement did begin to ignite in our skeptical bosoms. We packed  the car to bursting- full of swimsuits, bibles, flash-lights and eight or so sleeping bags,- the three oldest of us packed into the very back row of our Suburban truck, and we were on our way. I was soon asleep- and didn’t wake up till Vermont.

Fifteen minutes into New Hampshire- we drove into Camp Spofford. A lake glistened to our left- to our right a chapel, field, and well-groomed cabins. We found our tentel and unpacked. We gathered around as Sarah and Dad read off the beach and camp rules (i.e.- no swimming after 10:00 pm as patrol sharks are placed in the water and they will bite). Daddy and I meandered hand-in-hand around the grounds... it was lovely. Everything was painted in woodsie hues- flowers cascaded from their beds (including a highly amusing literal bed full of flowers)- a brook ran through the grounds (traversed by bridges) into the lake and through the air wafted the smokey smell of dinner.

Soon we began meeting people- first a  boat man- then my siblings and I made conversation with a family on the playground. We began to learn each other's names with relish and giggled as one of the girls, (her golden hair flying), found her youngest siblings and stuck name-tags (like it or not) onto their unsuspecting backs. The camp convocation brought even more meetings- as we met the families behind and in front of us in the pews and were formally introduced to everyone as each family stood and counted off their names and each child's age. Then we did activities together. These were such things as making boats from Styrofoam trays and skewers and sailing them down the brook- and playing dodge-ball. '(Nothing quite like smacking people with balls to get to know them.) Then it was time for dinner! Smoked and pulled pork! Oh, man, that stuff was good...

We were there five days. We loved every minute. But how to encapsulate the essence of that time for you? Shall I tell you of the kids- the delightful little girls who would run and hug me on sight- or the boys with their bright eyes and sticks and water-guns?  Shall I tell you of the nights we spent playing card games till midnight in Knutes- where popcorn is a dollar with endless free refills- where they make amazing floats and shakes and fresh, hot, Cinnamon donuts? Can I possibly skip the water-skiing, the pancakes and chocolate milk, the Family Olympics, or the Talent Show? Where could I begin on the conversations we had- on theology and economics and children and parenting. How can I describe the encouragement I received from mother's smiles and my delight in holding a newborn?

How concisely can I possibly tell you of the the afternoon I spent on the island (covered in Ever-Greens and sulfuring fish)- digging up clay deposits in an inlet with the other girls and boys- covering our face and arms and legs with designs- applying the tattoos on each other- washing them off- reapplying- wading around the island, giggling and smiling under the sun? Or what of the night those of us in college drove into the town of Keene - meandering through kitchen stores, drinking coffee drinks, talking in accents, taking pictures, commenting on quaint buildings, and having a grand old time? Or what of the night Sarah, two guys, and I spent hours by the lake talking by candlelight of the sermons we'd heard that week, family dynamics, struggles, and faith. I was, on multiple levels, deeply encouraged by our fellowship. Oh, the family of God.

Or best of all- where to begin in relating the wonderful teaching we received from Norm Wakefield- who did the chapel sessions and adult workshops each day? We all- every family- were deeply blessed by he and his wife's ministry. On Sunday he spoke from 1 Peter about the imperishable relationship Christ has given us- based not on our actions but on His faithfulness and the work on the cross.  And on Wednesday he spoke from 2 Corinthians about tearing down walls- the walls in our own hearts. I was challenged to reflect Christ in my relationships- who chose to undergo the pain, separation, and agony of the cross so that we- sinners- might be reconciled to him... so that the veil- the wall between us and God- would be severed forever.

I was faced, perhaps for the first time, with how easily I build walls against people in my heart- and how many walls I have been busy building for so many years. Mr. Wakefield talked about how our relationships are an aroma before God- and how when we sow discord we reflect Satan's way- but when we choose to bear other's sin and keep our hearts open, offering the gift of a love based not on what someone does- but on what Christ has done- we are an aroma of Christ before God. Oh, to reflect Christ! To remind God of Christ! And so I am strengthened with a resolve. When I am hurt (how often, and how easily this seems to happen!) I find myself praying: I will not build a wall. I will bear this hurt (Lord, help me bear it).

How thankful I am for the family of God.

All too soon, it was over. We were saying good-bye to family after family with whom we had already formed a wonderful bond. We promised- and we will- be retuning next year.

We drove home and dragged our things back into the house- weary but happy. And that night Annie came into my room before bed. "Good-night" she said- and as our arms wrapped around each other, her head burrowing into me, I drank in wafts from her hair. She didn't smell like Annie.

"You smell like Camp Spofford." I told her.

"What does Camp Spofford smell like?"

"Like wind, and sand, and water, and happiness."

She smiled- her eyes lighting up with that very happiness- alive in her memories. And then she went to bed.


  1. Mm. "I'm so glad, I'm a part, of the family of God! I've been washed in the fountain, cleansed by His blood! Join hands with Jesus as we travel this sod. I'm a part of the family, the family of God!"

    One of my friends has been going to Spofford since she was in elementary school, and she's headed up to staff there next week! She says she loves it there . . . and this confirms it's a special place. ;D

  2. Love that song! So true.

    Hayley. It is. A very special place You need to go to Spofford.

  3. Just........wow, that was amazing Linda :)
    your writing continues to give me complete pleasure to read :)

  4. :beams: Thank you very much. I'm so glad you enjoy it. :-) Other people enjoying my writing is so encouraging. :-)

  5. I just smiled my whole way through this. Usually we go to the camp for a day to see people and swim, I am so upset that you were so close and I missed you!

    Also, when you were talking about Keene, in my head I was shouting: "THAT'S MY CITY! How dare Linda be there without me!" ;-)

  6. I knew that you must be a writer, and I am glad to see that I was right. Keep up the wonderful work ^_^ I hope to see you again next year, without the melting of styrafoam cups.

  7. But no mention of the softball game?!

    We (those of us who are Spofford (Homeschool Week) veterans) are very pleased you enjoyed it so much. I think I can speak for my family in saying that we look forward to seeing you all again next year!

    Mr. Schiller
    Michael Smith's friend :-)

  8. Liz, you just shouldn't go on mission trips. ;-)

    :smiles: Thanks, Schuyler- I plan on it. Yes. Definitely next year. You bring those candles!!!

    Heyyy, Mr. Schiller! Hah! AND the SOFTBALL game! :grins: Thank YOU to your entire family making us feel so welcome! We are so looking forward to next year!

  9. I don't know if we met, but I enjoyed your thorough and poetic description of the week at Camp Spofford. It was our first time too and it looks like you covered everything! We didn't arrive until Sunday afternoon due to illness but it seemed like the lord redeemed the time. Everyday I kept thinking we had less days left then we did. It was a blessed week!

  10. Hey, Mr. Chesshir- yes, I remember you- you and your daughter were waiting on the beach with us to do water-skiing. I'm glad you liked my post- it's nice to have a sort of memory vault of that wonderfully blessed week. :-)

    :Hurrah for first years!: :-)

  11. Beautiful post. You have a heart and gift for writing. That IS what Spofford Homeschool time is like. SO, SO glad your family was there this year. Looking forward to next year, but hate waiting that long.

  12. Wonderful post, Linda. You paint a beautiful picture of everything that I love about Camp Spofford. Looking forward to seeing you next year at the "family reunion"-what I affectionately call camp with Abe.

  13. Linda, I just got back from vacation number two so I only just now got to read this. You literally brought tears to my eyes with your wonderful descriptions of my favorite place on earth. Thank you!

  14. Thanks, Mrs. Meneghini! We had such a wonderful time with your family as well! Water-skiing with Christina- talking with Josiah and Mr.M- and watching Dad and Mr. M DISCUSS *stuff*. Can't wait till next year, either...

    You and your husband were some of the shining lights in my week, Michele. Thank you!

    You are very, very welcome, Melanie. :-) Glad to have been able to capture in words what we both love. :-)