Family Camp. Those two words hold so many memories and feelings. My parents brought me to camp as a tiny baby every year until I graduated from high school. It was a priority to my parents and I am grateful. My brother and sister both had the opportunity to be counselors for a couple of summers and my sister even met her husband who was also a counselor. I spent the summer working on high school staff in 1999 and now just completed my 3rd year at family camp with my husband and daughter.
When I was a kid, I was so shy. The idea of making friends and doing camp games just about killed me, but there was always someone who would encourage me and make me feel at home. It was exciting and fun and by Wednesday I was already dreading the last day and wishing camp could last forever.
A few things have changed at camp since I was a kid, but truly not a whole lot. I remember hours of pickle ball and mini golf, time in the tree house and on the merry go round. I remember riding horses and swinging so high I felt like flying. As I got older, staying up late with friends and playing games in the dining hall were my new favorite things. We often got a little too loud, and Jack had to come remind us to keep it down as there were people trying to sleep. I remember so much laughter and fun. This surely hasn’t changed.
The summer of 99, both my husband Darren and I (we were not yet married at the time) came to work at Camp Gilead. Darren was a counselor in cabin 13 and I served as an LIT. It was such a wonderful summer and we are still friends with many of those that we worked with. It is hard work to be on camp staff, but I wouldn’t trade all of the scrubbed dishes and toilets for anything. The laughter, encouragement, and the humble work ethic of my friends could make any job seem fun. It was an honor to be a part of God’s work at Camp Gilead.
When our daughter, Evelyn was 5 we finally got the opportunity to attend family camp together. I had been hopeful we could carry on the tradition with our family. Two of Evelyn’s favorite things are being outside and being with people, so she absolutely loves every moment of camp. It is such an amazing gift to give her. She loves her weeks at camp. She says she’s not quite ready to go to camp without her mom & dad, but I think she’ll be ready soon and she’s already asking when she can be on camp STAFF!
My parents made family camp a priority and so many of my greatest memories are from family camp and working on staff. Now, I am making new memories with my family and we are already looking forward to next year. I believe the baton will keep being passed down as we make camp a priority.
At camp there is beauty and quiet. It’s a time to get away from our busy lives and focus on our families. It’s a place to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. It’s a place for relaxation and fun. It’s a place for laughter and worship. Ultimately, it’s a place to meet Jesus and fix our eyes on what is truly important in life, our relationship with our Savior.
Faith (Blazer) Bridges
Staff Alumni & Family Camper