23 January 2013

Spades, Cabbage, and Hazelnut Coffee

I had a memory resurface the other day, and it's a memory I'd like to share here.  Most of you that know me know that a great deal of my life was spent either as a camper or on staff at Camp Glisson, a United Methodist Camp and Retreat Center in Dahlonega, Georgia.

Camp Glisson Staff Photo, Summer 1992
I decided not to crop this picture down to just me, or even point out where I am, because that is not what this post is about.  It's about every single person in that photo, and the impact made on my life by that summer.

I was a camper at Glisson from 1978-1988, missing only two summers (I think...might have been only one). As a preacher's kid, I didn't really have a "home church," so Glisson was my surrogate home church.  Further, as one of THOSE PKs who saw the seedy underbelly that some churches have and how it had the power to devastate my father, I looked to Glisson as the place where I could feel close to God and feel the fellowship of believers that my home churches often claimed but fell short of creating.

Once I graduated from high school in June of 1989, instead of taking one last summer as a camper, I joined the staff and had a marvelous, frightening, overwhelming and amazing summer.  I had never lived away from home before and spent many nights dreadfully and privately homesick.  I painted a rock.  I decorated my own cabin with toilet paper.  I made friends, sang songs, and generally felt so accepted and loved that I thought my heart would explode.  Seriously.  I know that I tend to poke fun at the Kumbaya-like expressions of emotion that sometimes accompany "church," but it's only because I've seen the real deal and I  have yet to find anything equivalent.  

I was a village camp counselor for the summers of 1989-1991, and then in 1992 I applied to be a section leader.  Camp structure works this way:  Campers, Counselors (in various camps, at that time it was Village, Pioneer, and Sparrowwood), Section Leaders, Camp Directors, etc.  There were four section leaders in Village Camp and I got to be one of them that year, along with three other guys whom I adore to this day.  

What does all this have to do with Spades, Cabbage, and Hazelnut Coffee?  I'll tell you, hang in there.

Ben (Village Camp Director), Marty, Joe, Andy, and I would get together most nights on the porch of cabin B-1 (Boys row, first cabin) to hang out, play spades and, most importantly, drink hazelnut coffee.  My stomach lurches even now to think of how many cups of that I drank without sugar or milk!  It was hard for me that summer...I was still young then and of course, everything revolved around me and my thoughts and feelings...and I was the only female in a group of guys.  But those guys were marvels and made me feel at home...well, most of the time. 

Now back to my memory...Hubs and I got a mini-Keurig for a housewarming gift from my parents, and one of the K-Cups included was "Hazelnut Cream."  As soon as that liquid hit my mug and the smell drifted from the machine, tears sprang to my eyes.  I was 20 years old again, sitting on the screened porch, listening to the drone of the crickets and waiting for my spades partner (whomever had drawn the short straw that time as my lack of card playing ability was EPIC) to either tell me Cabbage (which meant to throw something good) or Garbage (which meant to throw something useless).  To be honest with you, I'm not even sure why I was throwing anything because the rules of that game are a bit fuzzy, but I can hear Ben saying "CABBAGE!" as clearly as I know my own name.

I was happy then, even if I didn't know it at the time.  I was supported and loved, even if my actions and attitudes made it so that I wasn't deserving of such.  I knew what I was doing and I loved my job.  It was a joy to get up every morning, even if it meant waking up with no campers to rouse and no living group plans to implement.  I loved Camp Glisson, and all I have to do to feel that love again is look at the mini replicas of the Dining Hall Porch, Cane Creek Falls, and the Chapel here on my desk...or stick a hazelnut K-cup in the machine at home.

It was all cabbage, all the time...and I have each and every person in that photo above to thank for it.

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