Camp scare generates new perspective
Junior Nick Avery, front left, and other campers participate in a game of tug-of-war at Yosemite Bible Camp.
This July, invited by friends and my grandmother to their College Church of Christ's summer retreat, I attended a withdrawal from my normal living arrangements at home to Yosemite Bible Camp in Oakhurst, CA. During the weeks which led up to the event, I was tentative about going, even to the point of blowing the trip off all together.
Unfortunately for me, my mom made the vacation a priority, and on July 20, I departed from River Park with my friend Paul Ocheltree and his family. After an hour and a half of driving, we arrived at YBC and checked into our cabins. We had no idea that, in a few days, the facility which surrounded us would be in peril.
Camp life consisted of the usual routine I would expect to see: get up, eat breakfast in the cafeteria, clean cabin, go to lessons, lunch, activities, free time, dinner, camp fire, worship and finally bedtime. Because the regimen was so predictable, the first few days passed in a blur.
Then Wednesday, the fourth day of camp, came, and with it the annual boating trip to Bass Lake which the high school group goes on every year. The entire day was filled with swimming, tubing and the occasional sunburn, as high school students learned more about each other and grew closer as a church family. The day at the lake was relaxing, providing further shock for what was to come that night.
The evening kicked off with the usual rendezvous and social activities, until the church gathered for some cookies and milk after worship. I had just left the cafeteria with treats in hand, when the shouts of "fire!" and "help!" rang out through the campground.
Administrators began to run toward the elementary area with worried looks on their faces, and a few high school guys split from the group to discover what exactly the problem was. Soon everyone was rounded up and sent to a baseball field away from the chaos, as the leaders ran throughout the campsite trying to locate a fire extinguisher.
"Although these revelations might seem irrelevant and mediocre to some, I found them to be essential to my ability to grow up as a person." --Nick Avery, '12
Once everyone had been gathered on the field, one of the students suggested we pray. We did, and soon afterward broke out into worship music led by the junior high and high school boys.
At this point I must be straightforward in saying that nobody was injured as a result of the accident. The heads of the camp acted perfectly in means of suppressing any danger which might have ensued as a complication. We later learned that the "fire" was actually an electrical fire, which resulted from an over-heated fan in the elementary boy's bathroom.
Up until this night, I had achieved a very pessimistic viewpoint on the Church of Christ's stance on music. The church does not agree with musical instruments while they worship, something I strongly disagreed with, seeing as I play the tenor sax and love Christian bands like Switchfoot and Relient K.
From left to right, juniors Nick Avery and Justin Sue and alumnus Ryan Swain sit awaiting a nightly campfire meeting.
However, on Wednesday, when the music coursed through the veins of the entire church body, I could not help but feel moved and comfortable among the foreign complexity of harmonizing. I learned that it does not matter what you sing, but how you sing it that truly glorifies God. One could be singing along to Veggie Tales or Underoath, but as long as you have the right intent, it is worship.
I also learned about the responsibility that comes with getting older, and how children really look up to their taller and, at some times, more sophisticated elders.
Throughout the week I was lectured about how I needed to be an example to the younger kids. In my mind, the role of the "high school guy" did not come into play until the night of the fire. It all came together while my cabin mates reminded each other not to goof off that night, to reassure everyone that everything was going to be fine. We truly led by example even after the all clear sign was given by making sure everyone had a place to go and was settled in before we went to bed after midnight.
Although these revelations might seem irrelevant and mediocre to some, I found them to be essential to my ability to grow up as a person. From that night until the end of camp, I noticed things like how the children, grades below us, watched and tried to copy their senior friends, and how they would ask a million questions all for the gain of a better understanding of the complex workings of the mind.
I am glad I attended YBC this year if not to better understand the roles of music and myself, then simply for the amazing food prepared for dinner every night. If I had to choose to go back, I would choose a million times over to return. And I plan to go back whenever I get the chance, which will hopefully be this winter.
For more stories about summer experiences, read the Aug. 23 article, Working on Gigi's farm: My first job.