"...talk of poems and prayers and promises
And things that we believe in
How sweet it is to love someone
How right it is to care
How long its been since yesterday
And what about tomorrow
And what about our dreams
And all the memories we share…"
The girls and I will drive out of the Arkansas Valley on Friday night. Only part of the reason we will leave under the cloak of darkness is logistical, there is also my historic reluctance to be here for the early morning goodbyes as the airport bus pulls out of the parking lot to the tune of teenagers reduced to tears and counselors singing "Happy Trails" (do we still do that…it used to tear my heart out) I admit it, I am weak.
Instead I will snuggle the girls into their seats after banquet, surround them with pillows and old quilts, put a CD of hymns on for them to fall asleep to, and by the time we head up the first pass, I will be alone with my thoughts.
Those thoughts will be a celebration of one pretty amazing summer of love. Pure and simple that's what it's all about here. Love, love, love…and more love.
Love for horses, love for friends…old and new, love for God, love for adventure, love for this place of beauty and majesty, love for ourselves...honoring the best we can be through service to others…love for a vision held by Adventure Unlimited founders Cap and Marianne Andrews and cherished by parents, campers, counselors, staff, supporters and trustees for the last 53 years.
This summer I will take home memories of horses nobly shaking off injuries to serve campers at polocrosse matches, on 3-day mountain treks, and in rodeos where the dance between rider and mount is choreographed by a God who loves beauty and grace.
I will take home countless reminders of God's instant and irreversible healing care of His beloved children…of all ages. I will celebrate the once-lame dancing and the once-sorrowing leaping with joy. I will hold close the memory of dinners where every bite is a work of vegetarian art and conga lines weave between tables in a crowded dining room.
But most of all, it will be the conversations on the porch of Crowsnest that will feed my heart all year long. Teens clutching camp-worn and notation weary copies of their Bible lessons sharing inspiration found on in the middle of a scree field at 13,000 feet or hungering for a spiritual understanding of their moral freedom, physical wellness, unerring direction, or just a sense of peace in the midst of personal storms.
I will smile when I see a county worker digging ditches or construction workers in hardhats remembering the ranch hands dressed as The Village People and dancing to "YMCA" as their camp introduction on arrival night.
I will mentally sing "The Bristlecone Pine" in a squeaky voice (with "wrists together" and "booty out") until I drive myself crazy. I will wipe a tear or two whenever I think of Lach's tenderness with horses (and riders) or Alison's early morning visits to Round Up for staff inspirational.
I will clutch these images closely all year long and pray for the love that is the substance behind them, to live and breathe and echo in the hearts of these children we all love so much.
Camp will live in me all year until I can live in her again…