The Parson-Storyteller is Circuit-Riding This week. A couple times a day I’m preaching on the banks of the Sugar River that runs into the Tittabawassee, that joins the Shiawassee and spills into Saginaw Bay. The days have been clear, the nights cool. It’s Michigan at it’s best this week.
I’m speaking at The Springs, a Christian camp in the palm of the Michigan Mitten this week. Yesterday I decided to go to town for a change of pace. On the way out I saw an elderly man named John standing by his truck. We fell into easy conversation. He was a retired school teacher. The bed of his truck was filled with food. He bought the food with his own money. Milk. Hams. Potatoes. Onions. He hunts for bargains and he donates the food to the camp.
He said; “When I was a boy I couldn’t afford to go to camp. I like to help keep the cost of camp low so any kid who wants to go can.”
So because of men like John kids who don’t have a lot of money can ride the zip-line. They can experience the smell of pine on the summer air. They can listen to the call of birds on the river on a summer afternoon. They can swim and canoe with their friends. They can laugh with their friends and flirt a little bit. They can over-eat junk food at the Snack Shack. They can make new friends from all over the state. They can follow a pine-needle carpeted path and read their Bible out under a tree. They can stare into a fragrant open fire. When the evening gets quiet and the sun begins to set they will make their way to chapel and sing their hearts out. When the singing is done they will hear the same story that changed John’s heart one day years ago. When chapel is done they will walk quietly under the stars back to their cabins. After a little horse-play and banter they can burrow down into a sleeping bag for the night and drift off to sleep to the sound of crickets and frogs out in the cool Michigan night.
John is 80 and he remembers that sixty-five years ago his girlfriend got to go to camp but he couldn’t afford to.