Thursday, September 12, 2013

Those Magic Moments

Everyone has magic moments. You know the ones I'm talking about- the ones where as soon as they happen you know they will be with you for the rest of your life. We have them with our parents, our spouses, our children and our friends.  And if you are as lucky as I was, you even have some on your job. I spent 28 years working with youth and their families as a youth pastor, and my life "on the job" was filled with memorable times. Some were happy, some were emotional, some were sad, some were silly and some were just flat-out "God things." This blog has been filled with many of those stories. But beginning today, I want to tell some of them again. Many social media folks celebrate Throwback Thursday, and I am going to join in the fun! For the next 10 weeks I am going to share with you one of my favorite moments from my days in student ministry. Ten moments I will never forget.

I should warn you that my definition of "moment" is going to be fairly broad. Some will be actual instances; others may be particular days. There will even be some whole weeks thrown in. But each "moment" on my list will share this common trait- it changed me. Some in big ways, some in small- but it changed me.

Narrowing the list to 10 will not be easy, and so I will go ahead and start by cheating and beginning with number 11 (You all know how bad I am with math). So much of who I am now, and who I was as a youth pastor can be traced to the 6 amazing summers (1978-1983) and many other volunteer weeks I worked at Quaker Lake Camp. I could do a list of 50 magical moments just from those years,and you can read about many of them elsewhere on this blog. But here's one really special moment for today...

From Left:  Laura Wheeler, Marty Bray, Kim Haynes, Me, Angie Swaim,
Marshall Ratledge, Marnee Larkin, Jay Osborne, Sabrina Perry, Lisa Wilkins

Front Row:  Rey Iglesisas
I an not certain exactly which year in the early 80s this tale takes place but whenever it was  I found myself in charge of dividing the campers into teams for Team Competition, the sporting part of a Senior High camp.  The teams also served as our small discussion groups for the week.  Having such a responsibility was always a temptation.  I knew the campers very well, and giving myself the best team was always a possibility.  On this occasion, I decided instead to give myself an awesome discussion group and forgo choosing the camp "studs" for my team.  My co-leader for the week would be my dear friend and "Sis" from high school, Sabrina Perry- who I had conned into volunteering for the week.  Everyone else was someone I knew well and loved, with the exception of Rey.  He had come to us from Miami with a group of Hispanic Quakers and was in my cabin, so I claimed him as well.  Marshall and Marnee were both in my youth group at New Garden Friends Meeting.  Jay, Laura and Angie were among my all-time favorite campers.  Kim was the little sister of the girl I was dating at the time, future staff member Donna Haynes.   I had known Marty and Lisa for a couple of summers as well.  As an example of how well I knew them all and how important this group would become to me, I can tell you that as I looked at the picture I identified them all from memory, some 30 years later.  We were all excited to be together, and it was an awesome small group for prayer and discussion.  But we also realized that we seemed to be a bit short of athletic talent.  So I decided to give them a pep talk, basically telling them that we should just have fun because winning was a real long shot.  I cannot remember what name we chose for out team, but I will never forget our team cheer.  It (and my pep talk- I thought I was Bill Murray) was taken from the the greatest camp movie ever made, Meatballs.  We were determined to have fun, win or lose.  So our cheer became "It just doesn't matter..."  (Watch this awesome video clip to learn more!)

To make a great story short, we were unbeatable.  We didn't lose all week, pulling off a few miracle wins in softball and volleyball along the way.  To paraphrase from the clip,"we played so far over our heads that our noses bled."  It was amazing.  And we just kept chanting that it didn't matter.  The other teams were stunned- and a little ticked off.  The rest of the staff questioned my objectivity in picking the teams.  And we became a true family.  I learned a great deal about building community in youth groups from those people.  Laura, Marshall, Lisa and Jay would all go on to work at camp in the years to come.  It was one of the last times I would ever get to hang out with Sis.  It was truly a magical moment I will never forget!

Because of Jesus,


  1. Anonymous10/11/2013

    Carl, Debbie McMahan Haynes recently read a blog post you had written about Beth. She immediately called me and read it out-loud over the phone. I was moved. I am now the mother of six sons and have told all of them about you and Steve, Brother 1 and Brother 2,(though I can never remember which is which)! I had completely forgotten the incidents described in this post but you helped me remember in vivid detail perhaps the only time in my entire life that I have ever been an athletic hero! Slightly ironic isn't it that I went on from there to become the mother of six strapping boys/men all of whom are very athletic in their own way? Rest assured, I will have them read this blog since they will doubt the reality of its content...after all...they too have seen me in action and would gladly testify to the miraculous nature of that amazing feat!

    1. Wow! Just wow! It was such an amazing surprise to see your comment and have my eyes slowly open to whose words I was reading. It is so great to hear from you, Sis! I can hardly imagine you the mother of 6 young men, and I can also completely understand how they might doubt the validity of my athletic accomplishments. If you need a witness, just let me know! I would LOVE to catch up sometime. I think of you and your parents fondly and often. Stop by anytime! And btw- I MUST have been Bro #1, if no other reason than I NEVER fell off my horse! :)

    2. Anonymous10/11/2013

      Carl, I too, would love to catch up sometime! Mom and Dad will be thrilled to hear that we have spoken. I will tell them about your blog. They remain in Jacksonville, Fla. and the boys and I are in Raleigh. I had forgotten about the horse, your memory astounds me. I can certainly tell you have NOT gone through menopause

    3. My memory may be good, but the rest of me is falling apart. And you are menopause YET! Please do tell your folks I said hello, and by all means let's catch up soon! My cell is 813-919-3755. Text or call anytime, it would be so great to hear from you!

  2. Anonymous10/12/2013

    First of all, hi Sis! from bro 1.
    Second, it really was such a nice horse - until it THREW me mercilessly to the ground.
    Please say hello to M & D in Florida for me, too. Nothing but fond memories of those two.


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