Tuesday, October 5, 2010


Dear Stony Glen Camp,

The first time I set foot on your grounds was the summer between sixth and seventh grade. I only stayed for one week, but I knew I would come back the following summer. I loved everything about you. I had no idea when I signed up to take Riflery as one of my three summer activities that it would turn into something that I loved. Loved and Respected. The cabin I stayed in that summer didn't have electricity; in fact, most of the cabins didn't have electricity, so I became well acquainted with where my flashlight was at all times. I never was all that keen on swimming in the lake, but I loved to slip down there alone at quiet times for contemplation and reflection. This was church camp, and I was doing a lot of thinking about God, Jesus, me, and how that picture all fit together.

One of the things I loved best was all of the singing. We sang after each meal in the dining hall. After breakfast, the counselors who played guitar strapped them on, and we sang songs about God. Some of them were so pretty that they squeezed my heart hard. At lunch and dinner, the high schoolers led the songs. They didn't stand up or anything. They just took control by leading. Those were all fun songs acapella style. At night, we broke apart by division and did an evening activity. Those were always so much fun. That meant that four or five cabins would join up (girls all in the same age range). I don't remember so well now what the fun things were that first year. I know that as time went on one of my all-time favorites was Capture The Flag. After the fun was over, we always made a campfire, sang some more, a counselor gave the message, and then we went to bed. I always slept really well at camp.

My riflery obsession eventually led me to try my hand at archery. I never was quite as good an archer as I would have liked. I also became dissatisfied very quickly with just one week of camp. One week quickly turned into two weeks. Two eventually turned four. I would have stayed five, but I was too old by that time. I was already there for the duration of camp. I liked camp so much that I took the Camper In Leadership Training Program (CILT) when I was in high school. That took two years of overall time and two weeks of camp time for two years.

That second year of camp it hit me like a rocket launcher that at the end of the second week I would no longer be a camper. I would graduate CILT, and they would expect me to be a counselor. That meant that I could no longer hang out with my friends. My days of living at Sam Grey were over. This was devastating. Sam Grey was the best place ever. Sam Grey was this A-Frame house with electricity set far away from the rest of the camp, where the high school kids lived. Sam Grey was the bomb. I never wanted to leave Sam Grey. How did I not see this coming? Ironically enough, the theme song for camp this year couldn't have explained my predicament any better than I could. The chorus started like this: "Mmmmm I want to linger, Mmmm a little longer, Mmmm a little longer here with you." We sang it every day. Check that. Everyone but me sang it every day. I cried through it every day. Two weeks of crying.

Adulthood was coming for me and I wasn't ready. They didn't put it in the manual. I checked. I kept praying for time to stop or slow down and it steadily moved forward until the day of graduation. One day I was a camper and the next I wasn't. Snap. The next three weeks I was a counselor. I was a fairly miserable counselor, but I was a counselor nonetheless. The following summer, after my senior year of high school, I came back as a counselor and it was completely different. I knew I was coming in as a counselor, so this summer was I was perfectly aware that I was a grown up now. Being a counselor this time around was a lot of fun.

Stony Glen Camp, so many of my best memories happened with you. I learned so many things about fire building, riflery, archery, people, and myself, that I wouldn't have learned if not for you. Most people transition into adulthood so seamlessly that they are only vaguely aware that it is happening. One day they wake up and realize that it snuck up on them, passed them by, and they cannot pinpoint the when or the where. That is not my story. I know exactly when and where it happened. It wasn't painless, easy, or desirable. I was dragged through the doors of adulthood kicking, screaming, and crying, because I knew that something beautiful was dying. I would never get it back and there wasn't anything I wanted more. However, you are patient and waited for me to come and appreciate you from my new perspective of adulthood. I did. That next summer I realized it was my privilege to give each girl the wonderful experience that I had every year. If they left with a heart filled with more love, faith, songs, confidence, and joy, then I had done my job.

I haven't been back to see you in almost twenty years, but I can picture you clearly in my mind. The website indicates that you have undergone some changes. I prefer not to think of that. I like to picture you the way I remember you. On those nights when I wake up, and cannot fall back to sleep, I imagine myself in Milner Cabin. It is the only cabin close enough to the waterfalls that you can lie in bed and hear the water as it goes over the falls. When I was in junior high school, I prayed every year that I was placed in Milner Cabin so that I could fall asleep listening to those falls. The sound of those waterfalls is still one of the best sounds I've ever heard.


image stolen from Miss Angie at My So-Called Chaos


  1. lovely letter...thnaks for getting me started doing this too its very theraputic

  2. Ahh cute, I never went to any camps as a child.

  3. Love your viewpoint on coming into adulthood. I thought I was the only one that could so clearly see that I didn't want to rush that transition. I remember thinking how sad I was for friends that were in such a hurry to grow up. I knew that I would always have plenty of time to be an adult; and I so badly wanted to get every bit of enjoyment that I possibly could out of not being an adult just yet. Some of that may have been my desire to get childhood right first, not sure. I can just picture the camp that you loved so much...

  4. Solid Rock Bible Camp in Pillager, MN. I can remember it like it was last summer and it was 35 years ago. God that makes me sound old but I'm not. Really I'm not.
    The singing, the friendships, the devotions, the swimming, baseball, the cabins and the one time I fell off the top bunk and saw stars.
    Thank you, thank you for such a sweet memory and for sharing because it just brought back the sweetest memories for me too.
    Take care and God Bless!!!

  5. LOVE this post...camp was not something I did as a kid, but I think it was something I always wanted to do. After reading this post, I feel a little closer to it. So cool. (I'm really enjoying this letter series you are doing - I'm reading them all, even if not commenting, and just love them. Your letter to the Purple Cow was great!)

  6. I went to mystic lake camp as a kid.
    it was awesome. I loved it.
    It was a big part in making who I am today.
    Love this post robin.

  7. You should send this to them. What an advertisement!!!

  8. I love this letter writing idea. It really must be therapeutic. Whenever I come by and read yours, I am really deeply moved and wonder who I would choose to write to if I undertook this assignment...
    This letter is so well written I can visualize your camp, smell the fresh air, and hear the waterfall you mention! You write nostalgia! What vivid memories and such a thoughtful and contemplative mind to be able to explain your transition from child to adult to us.
    Really enjoyed it!

  9. One of my best ever experiences was a summer at camp one golden year when I was 14 and discovering memories that would last forever!

    Robin, thanks so much for all of your encouraging notes on my blog. I have so appreciated that you have kept dropping by even when I haven't been really as active with my blog as I should be. Your comments are always uplifting and have been a real encouragement. They are especially treasured because I know you are struggling with your own very serious physical problems as well as all the other garbage that is going on in your life. Being able to be a "light beam" in the midst of your own pain makes you a very special person!


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