Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 26, 2012


This past week is one I’m not likely to forget.

Every year our church conference holds a retreat for the SCAMPS at Silver Spur Christian Camp in Tuolumne, California. SCAMPS is an acronym for “Senior Citizens Are Marvelous People.” To qualify you must be at least 55 years old, or your spouse must be that age even if you are younger.

Folks roll in from all over northern California, and more than a few do so in a motorhome or some other RV. The rest of us stay in separate rooms within the campground. Each year there is a special speaker, along with someone to lead us in singing and worship. And like most retreats, we seem to be sitting down to a meal every time we turn around.

During this get-away (Monday evening through Thursday noon) we engage in a variety of sessions and activities. Some of our oldest attenders are well into their nineties! It is such a treat to be around these saints who, in most cases, have been walking with the Lord for many decades. Just this morning I was seated at breakfast with Dick, a man who had served in the Army during WWII. He asked me if I’d ever heard of Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF). I assured him that I certainly had. He then told me he was in on the original planning for OCF in Washington, DC in 1943. It was originally founded as Officers’ Christian Union (OCU), and later changed to OCF in 1972. He told me about the first president of OCF, General Hayes Kroner, and his enthusiasm for bringing together Christian officers from our different branches of the military for Bible study and fellowship. In all of my 34 years in the military I had never met anyone who was part of the founding of this group. What a blessing!

For most of our sessions at SCAMPS I sat next to one of the sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet. She is well into her 90s but still exhibits a real joy for life. Laura was widowed a few years ago when her husband, Virgil, went home to be with Jesus. He had been a pastor and conference superintendent in the southern California area. What is so unique about Laura is that she makes you feel as though you are the most important person in the world when you speak with her. And she always has an encouraging word for you. What a joy to be with this godly woman!

Each evening following our snack time, quite a few of us would sit around the dining tables and play Mexican Train for the next few hours. I counted four games going at the same time. What a blast we had!

On the final night together, there is always a Talent Show. Folks from the various Free Methodist churches in our conference cobble together some skit for the entertainment of all the rest. These things are planned before we get to camp because of the need for props and rehearsals. Well, those of us from the Ripon Free Methodist church had decided we would do a skit where the men would simulate performing an Olympic-style synchronized swim. We five hardy souls donned our sleeveless T-shirts with FM (Free Methodist) emblazoned on the front, swim trunks (no Speedos!), a woman’s shower cap, and swim goggles. We marched in to the Olympic anthem, stood before the audience which was already busting up, and then walked behind a three-foot-high blue tarp stretched across the stage simulating water in a pool. We then began our various “synchronized” moves. It includes diving moves to left and right, circle moves, and the one that took the cake was when we laid down on the floor with our legs sticking up in the air. We moved our legs around as though we were in the water, including wiggling our feet! The whole skit couldn’t have lasted more than three minutes, but it had folks laughing till some were nearly gasping for breath. Some admitted later that their stomachs hurt. One lady told me she awoke at 3:00 in the morning laughing thinking back on our skit.

The next morning the folks from Ripon gathered around the breakfast table discussing the success of the skit. I mentioned that we’d have to begin planning immediately for next year because we have really raised the bar of expectation. I think we’ve come up with a good one, but all I’m going to say is that it will involve tutus.  

I finally arrived back home late Thursday. I unpacked all my clothes and other items I had stowed in my car. My wife informed me that our nearly five-year-old granddaughter, Alyssa, would be spending the night. Sure enough, she showed up at the front door with her mom about eight o’clock. We played for a while, and then it was time for Alyssa to make popcorn with granddaddy. One of Alyssa’s delights is to “steal” popcorn from my bowl, even though I prepare a bowl just for her. I pretend like I don’t see her little hand sneaking into my bowl. She laughs with total delight, thinking she has pulled a fast one on me. Just before heading for bed, Alyssa noticed my swim goggles sitting on the kitchen counter where I had placed them after coming home. She grabbed them and asked her Meema (that’s her name for grandma), “Are these for granddaddy so he can look for his golf balls?” Isaura found great humor in this remark and couldn’t wait to tell me. The mental picture in my mind got me to chuckling. Isaura and I laughed together at the perceptions of our little blessing called Alyssa.

It was a great week, full of fun and laughter. It made me reflect on Proverbs 17:22, which says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.”

How’s your heart today? Have you had the medicine of a good laugh lately?

No comments: