|Alan Brown & I entertaining the troops.|
In the summer of 1973 (the summer after 8th grade) Steve Semmler talked me in to attending a week of camp at QLC in beautiful Climax, NC. My life would never be the same. Like so many before and since, I fell in love with the people and the place. Quaker Lake was not a fancy place back in those days. My first year as a camper the swimming pool was being built- we swam in the lake. There were no motor boats or jet skis, just canoes and row boats. There were no horses for horseback riding, just a few cows out behind the boys cabins. Those cabins were older than dirt, and the bath house was located about 25 yards from the cabins. And yet, I fell completely in love with the place. With QLC, it was never about the amenities. It was always about the people.
My first counselor was a Quaker from Kenya named Richard Shimaka. He was great, as was the rest of the staff. I came back as a camper for the next three years and my love for the staff and the campers who would return each summer continued to grow. Frank Massey, Darrell McBane and Ricky Sessoms were other counselors who instilled in me a longing to one day work there myself. But it was camp director Neal Thomas who held it all together, and who made me feel like I had something special to offer. (You can read more about Neal by clicking here). I volunteered as a CIT (counselor in training) a total of 6 weeks over 3 summers. I applied to work full-time staff for the summer after my high school graduation, but didn't get hired because all 4 male counselors were returning. I was almost hired as the assistant cook (and would have been a better choice than the person they hired!), but instead wound up volunteering for 6 of the 8 weeks that summer in a variety of capacities. I worked summer staff for 6 summers, from 1978-1983- 5 years a cabin counselor and the final year as the Crafts and Special Activities Director (the 1st one QLC had ever had!). After leaving the summer staff, I volunteered a week in 1984. I then missed a few years before returning as a camp pastor for junior high camp in 1987, and high school camp each year from 1988-1993. In 1994 we moved to Florida, and I did not return again until 2006.
I shared many great stories about my days at QLC in the early posts of this blog, and you can see them by clicking on the Quaker Lake label at the bottom of this post. But there is still so much more to tell. My personal spiritual journey, my training as a youth pastor, many of my best friends and so many special memories can all be traced back to QLC. And so much of it can be summed up in one word- music. More on that tomorrow.
Because of Jesus,