Tonight is our free time night. We just finished the traditional Wednesday-night cookout (as opposed to eating in the dining hall), and most of the camp is doing the traditional free-time activity of driving to Beersheba Springs, to visit the Mayhews’ pottery shop and Mountain Home, a nearby gift shop, both of which stay open later specifically to accommodate Mountain T.O.P. AIM campers. The Mayhews, in particular, are long-time friends of the ministry, and Phil will typically sit on the front porch at his potter’s wheel and give a demonstration for the crowd. If the weather had been better (it’s raining out), the first stop, while the light was still good, would have been the lookoff point in front of the United Methodist assembly in Beersheba.
But a few of us are still here in camp. I haven’t gone to the Mayhews’ in my last several AIM weeks, which is sacrilege — but I never buy anything, and if I ride over there in someone else’s car I’m always sitting on the front porch grinding my teeth wondering if it’s time to leave and get back to camp yet. So I stopped going. My original plan tonight was to drive over in my own car and join the group at the Beersheba lookoff, then just come straight back to camp from there. But, as mentioned, it’s storming tonight. (The rain slacked off long enough for us to get through most of the cookout.)
I’m sitting here in the lobby writing this, while Curtis Piper is on the other end of the couch checking things on his phone. It has been a wonderful week so far, but a busy one, and a little down time is not a bad thing. The group will get back early enough that we can play cards later or what have you.
The combination of Summer Plus and Kaleidoscope — two programs that have traditionally taken place during different weeks of the summer — has worked surprisingly well, and I’ve enjoyed my participation in Kaleidoscope this week, although with only two workshops, it’s been a lot more casual and less focused than some events in the past. The kids don’t mind one bit.
The schedule this week has been put on its ear a little bit for our other camp activities. For most of the time since summer AIM was moved to Cumberland Pines, the practice was for AIM campers to eat breakfast and supper on the “meeting room” side of the dining hall at the same time Youth Summer Missions campers were eating on the “dining” side of the dining hall.
But last year, and again this year, the YSM camp was so large that they take up both sides of the dining hall — which means we have to eat breakfast before they do and dinner after they do. That’s a wonderful thing for YSM, which is by far the biggest part of Mountain T.O.P. in terms of camper numbers. And everyone on the AIM side, staff and campers alike, tries to make the best of it. Glynn Simmons, the wife of Mountain T.O.P. executive director Rev. Ed Simmons, has been making some sort of snack for us to eat each day at 5:30 while waiting for our meal at 6:45. (Tonight, because the AIM cookout is not held in the dining hall, there was no conflict, and so we had dinner at the old, long-standing time of 6 p.m.) Except for tonight, our free-time night, the later meal time pushes back our two normal post-dinner activities, sharing and worship, leaving us less hang-out time at the end of the evening. (I’m going to suggest that if this happens again in the future, sharing be held prior to dinner, similar to the way in which group morning devotional has had to swap places with breakfast in our morning schedule.)
Anyway, even though this is a very small camp community it’s been a good one. The people who joined me this year from First UMC seem to be having a great time and have fit right in with some of our veterans. I’ve been trying to get plenty of photos of them, and of the Summer Plus/Kaleidoscope event in general, which means I’ve been a little light on photos of myself so far. I’ll have to hand my phone to someone and have them make a photo of me with some kids tomorrow.