I’ve been to four camps in the last ten days. I like Ridgecrest well enough, and Belmont’s easy because it’s five minutes from work. Today I’d tell you Glorieta is my favorite (the weather, the food, the scenery). But God has decided that North Greenville University will be the location we meet. I left there a week ago and haven’t been able to get it out of my heart.
It’s 2009. I’m at North Greenville University for 20 hours to see a few element of programming. I’m a fulltime Event Producer for LifeWay and I’ve written 95% of the dramatic material this year. I have no worries about butchering this year, at least at this location. They’ve got a hero for a PD and a dynamic duo for actors. They crush the drama. They bring Nite Life in in under 25 minutes. They hit all the jokes at AM show. I stay in yet another ancient dank basement dorm (what’s the deal with NGU & basement dorms?) and have a good late night conversation with the director. There’s a new bagel place across the street. I’m gone before lunch but haven’t left in my heart. As soon as I drove on campus, it was 2006, it was 2004, it was 1987. In a world where the Frozen Donkey Wheel is off its axis and camp becomes unstuck in time, North Greenville is my constant. (mom, that’s a “LOST” reference)
It’s 2006. I’m a youth minister taking my students to camp at North Greenville, now University. A lot has changed: new cafeteria, new student center. . I’ve built a lot of the programming this year, which is being butchered. I don’t know how to let go. I can’t unplug. But I’m the customer. I have students here. I’m utterly lost. I’m confused. I have a grievously wounded soul. It’s close to the end of the Starbucks Years. I spend a lot of time alone in the prayer garden. They put us on the basement floor of a dorm (different from 1987). I make four guys who slept through quiet time get up at 6 to pick up garbage around campus. I think David would be proud. Casey and I go to great lengths to embarrass our guys in front of girls they’re trying to impress. A parent all but eviscerates me for not taking her son to the hospital when jumped through a window and busted his leg open. A kid accepts Christ. Another one feels a call to the mission field. It’s a good week.
It’s 2004. I get a phone call from James Jackson telling me they’ve had a program director drop out of camp on them two weeks before camp is to start. He asks if I can go and spend a weekend with this team and get them ready for camp. I’m freelance, I wrote the drama. I’m available. He tells me it’s North Greenville College. I spend an intensive two days in rehearsals with these staffers who don’t realize what they’ve gotten themselves into by agreeing to act. But they respond well and we manage to put a decent performance together. In the seventeen years since I’ve been here almost nothing has changed. The curb where we did “line up”. The tennis courts. The cafeteria.
It’s 1987. I’m an 8th grader attending Centrifuge at North Greenville College. The theme is “On Track” with a sweet railroad motif and I’m staying with Craig and Mr. B in an ancient basement dorm room. The R.A.’s name is Vern, and he’s a tool. There’s a guy from Kuwait in my Bible study and Craig makes out with girl named Paige, whom I later see making out with some other guy. (Sorry Craig, didn’t know if you knew that, but it’s about time someone broke the news to you.) We’ve come to North Greenville by way of Hilton Head and a couple of kids got roasted at the beach. We’re talking blisters that burst and make their shirts stick (quite painfully) to their bodies. The cafeteria is not so great. But I meet a lot of people and really like this thing called camp.
I’m trying, but I can’t think of another place that is so singularly locked to spiritual markers across my life. North Greenville…and He’s the God of the unlikely.
2 months ago