Saturday, August 29, 2009


I mentioned yesterday how much I learned about student ministry during my 7 summers on the staff at Quaker Lake Camp. Among the things I learned was how to pull off a great prank. Like most camps, the staff at QLC has to find ways to amuse themselves during a long, hot summer, and we did- OFTEN! We not only had previous staffs to show us the way to a good prank, we had the movie Meatballs, which was popular at the time. And we all wanted to be Bill Murray...

The first prank I will mention was a revenge prank. I travelled across the country with Carl Semmler and Alan Brown (you'll hear more about this trip at a later date), and Carl had, on a very hot, muggy night in New Orleans, gotten up in the middle of the night and pushed buttons until he turned on the heat, because he was chilly. Alan and I both woke up in puddles of sweat, and when we tried to make him aware of his error, he threw a glass ash tray at us. Fast forward a few weeks to all 3 of us working at camp. Carl always slept in a sleeping bag like a mummy. So one evening I unzipped the bag and emptied and entire bottle of baby powder in the bag. When Carl climbed in that night in the dark, the powder flew and he, his bed and most of the room was buried in powder. It was awesome. Even more awesome were all the pranks he pulled on the female staff before finding out it was me- 5 year later!

Prank number 2 involved grand theft, clothing! During a junior high camp my first summer a cabin of girls had pranked my cabin in some small way, so we decided to strike back. One afternoon, while the girls were all busy, we sneaked into their cabin and stole all of their luggage, placing it in a corn field behind the main lodge. We also found that one of the girls had some "day of the week" panties, so we took "Friday" and froze them! They came back to their cabin, panicked, looked everywhere, and we finally had to give up the location of the luggage after the camp director got really angry with us. We did not, however, give up the frozen panties until breakfast on Saturday (with a formal presentation in front of the whole camp, of course!), which has always made us wonder what panties did she wear on Friday? As with most great pranks, this resulted in a rule change which forbid guys from entering girls' cabins for any reason...

Quaker Lake allowed counselors to tell ghost stories in those days, and one of the favorites was about The Quaker Lake Hand. The story has something to do with a camper loosing his hand and the dismembered hand haunting the camp for many years. One night, with 30 or so 9 and 10 year old campers gathered in one cabin, a couple of the guys were telling the story. I had the bright idea to, at the crucial moment in the story, put my hand behind a glow-in-the-dark frisbee and slap it against the screen of the cabin. It worked- screams were heard all over camp, and the next morning a number of campers showed up for breakfast packed and ready to go home. Oops! Once again rules were changed, and ghost stories were banned.

As you can see, we were creative and daring in those days, and these 3 stories just scratch the surface! There will be more to come. But I learned a great deal from all of this silliness. I learned that you have to be careful with how you treat people, even in the name of fun. I learned that creativity is a gift that must be used with some degree of caution (although it took me a LONG time to learn that lesson well!). And I learned that life, lived together in the name of Jesus, is never boring! Now if I could have only shaken the nickname The Baby Powder Kid...

Because of Jesus,

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