Camp Vespers

Lord thank you for safe travels, good directions, clean reststops, and time spent with great friends. Help us remember we may own the trailers but you own the trees, the river, the stars and the moon. Thank you for sharing.


Living in South Texas I never took children too far from home to go camping.

Texas is so big we certainly couldn't go out of state.  Besides I took children camping not teens and I liked the idea that parents were never too far away!  I took comfort in knowing if a child was hurt, homesick or heaven forbid out of control we could call parents and have them drive on over. 

The camps near us usually booked early. 

We were finally able to host a 4 day camp at a small encampment just a few miles from the Rio Grande River. I had wanted to use this encampment and had been on the waiting list.

Since this camp was only about an hour from home we had parents caravan to and from camp.  We met at the church parking lot and loaded the sleeping bags and duffle bags full of contraband. No shaving cream, gameboys etc. 

 I remember the new little boy who was a challenge early on.  His mother had a hard time getting him back in the car once she'd loaded up the crew of children she was to drive.  He refused to listen to her until she finally begged him.   The whole caravan had waited as she struggled to load up her son.  Before she got in her car she came over to me and told me that some day I would be glad that I knew her son.  I smiled and assured her I already was. 

The drive up old Hwy 83 was quaint with tall palm trees lining much of the way.  The encampment itself sounded pretty old according to the brochure but once inside the gate we felt transformed to another era.  Its rustic charm and clean facilities made me an instant fan. 

After hours of setting up the camp I went for my own private tour.  As I strolled through the campgrounds I began to notice there were holes in the ground about every 6 ft or so. Later that afternoon during free time I noticed the boy’s team pouring water down one of the holes.  I asked their team leader (who never leaves their side!) what they were doing. He explained they were catching tarantulas.  He went on to explain that as a child he had attended camp there and that the camp's nickname had always been Camp Tarantula.  He was surprised I didn't know that.  I wasn't aware of that.  The camp brochure failed to mention the camp’s nickname or camp mascot(s).

Trembling, I suggested they find something else to do like go be first in line when the dinner bell rang.  Being first in line seems to be the ultimate accomplishment for young boys at camp.  The new boy started to push everyone out of the way so he could be first.  Team captain settled it quickly.  They ran off and I was right behind them only I was tiptoeing.  As a matter of fact I got leg cramps from tiptoeing all week trying to make sure I didn't step in a hole or step near any eight legged critters than I’d only seen in scary movies.

No one seemed the least bit worried about the tarantulas but me.  No one.  Not the girls in the kitchen, not the lifeguards, not the team leaders, no one.  I finally decided if they could stay all week- I could too. I prayed a lot and slept with one eye open as you can imagine!

On the last day of camp I slipped off to the kitchen for a diet drink before heading to the pool fully dressed –not in a swimsuit - for my annual, “Hurray!  Here comes our Camp Director. Let's surprise her and toss her in the pool event."  Every year I let the kids throw me in the pool on the last day.  They think it’s their idea.  They never seem to remember I always happen to be poolside on the last swim session!  New boy led the charge to pushing me in of course! 

Anyway back in the kitchen I had noticed a dozen or so brown paper bags taped up with names on them. Since I was the Camp Director I couldn’t think of any project or treat that would have ended with taped up brown bags.  While making my wet way back from the pool I ran into one of the kitchen staff and asked her what was in all the bags.  She very nonchalantly said she thought they were the boy's team’s tarantulas. 
I'm standing there dripping wet, horrified and wondering:
1.  Where did they find bags, tape, and markers? (I run a pretty tight ship you know)
2.  Where were their team leaders when this was done (#1 rule never ever leave you campers)
3.  What on earth are they going to do with the tarantulas? (Look what I got at camp Mom!)
4.  Who they will ask to direct camp next year since I'm sure not getting invited back after this.

I learned:
1.  The kitchen staff gave them leftover lunch sacks and the crafts leader gave them tape and markers.
2.  The team leaders showed them how to catch the tarantulas using water in one hole and catching them when they pop out another.
3.  The boys actually thought they would take the tarantulas home.

I had to be the one to break the news to the boys and their team captains that the tarantulas had to be let go.  You would have thought I'd asked them to give up a family member.  They whined and cried until I finally told the team leaders to stop it.  They were setting a bad example for the children.  Finally the boy’s team marched off to the thicket to release their catch. 

I never know who is the most excited about the trip home from camp:  the parents, the returning campers, or the camp staff.  It’s exciting to see everyone reunited and hear the young camper’s version of what happened at camp.  I spend the last 45 minutes going from team to team and then from car to car counting heads.  No caravan can leave until I'm satisfied that all are accounted for.

The new little boy wasn't new anymore.   As a matter of fact he'd tried all the staff's patience on more than once occasion.  Nothing we had to call home about.  You couldn’t help from feeling sorry for him.  He was smart and by the end of the week had begun to fit right in.  He was just use to being in charge which always seemed to get him into trouble.  It was time to go and he was in his mother's car before she could even ask or beg him to.   Trying not to act too shocked she turned and asked me how he did at camp.  I was not planning on telling her about the arguments, temper-tantrums, storytelling, and bullying he did.  I was going to say he did a pretty good job with a few bumps along the way.  Before I could finish the sentence she touched my arm in such a way as to silence me and she reminded me again that someday I would be glad I knew her son. 

All campers accounted for and finally off we went.  It was a bitter sweet exit leaving Camp Tarantula behind.  I was tired but proud of what we’d taught the children that week about the Lord.   I was even taking full credit for the boy who jumped in his moms’ car without a fight.  We’re good aren’t we Lord!

As I'm driving back to the church I was thinking about his mother in the car in front of me.  How she struggled telling her son what to do.  How she loved him and how it must hurt her to see him disobey.  I thought how odd her comments were that someday I would be glad I knew her son.  He wasn't royalty.  He was just a boy who refused to listen to his mother's instructions.  As I was thinking about them suddenly the mother's car in front of me swings over to the side of the country road and pulls to a stop.  Down came her car window.  Out flew a brown taped up bag.  A paper caged tarantula no doubt

I had to smile as I realized she was right I was glad I knew her son.

Besides mildly amusing me the little boy actually taught me a lesson.  How often do I feign obedience when I have an ulterior motive?  How man times have I jumped into God’s car giving the appearance that I’m submitted only to have my tapped up brown bag of wishes tossed out the window.  Lord thank you for not being afraid to tell me what to do.  Forgive me for bringing things into my life that are not what’s best for me.  Help me be the kind of camper you want me to be.

Lord help me live the kind of life that would make people glad they knew me.

Oh and #4's response to who else they would get to direct camp the following year?  Yours truly.  Apparently everyone knew it was Camp Tarantula but me.

When people ask you how you can hook up and pull your trailer all alone, or how you set up your tent all alone, and of all things back up a trailer all alone... tell them you're not! God says He will never leave us or forsake us and that includes driving through Houston, Dallas, or heaven help us - Austin. Thank you Lord for being our copilot in all our adventures.

Campers Prayer

Now I lay me down to sleep
I pray this trailer doesn't leak

If I should die before I wake
Can I bring my trailer- for Heaven's sake?

Imagine camping among the stars
Tonight on Jupiter tomorrow Mars

Free water, electric, and sewer too
And all the campsites are pull-thru

My angelic trailer shining bright
Would light the skies on summer nights

Not shooting stars the world would see
But my small, shiny, trailer pulled by me


I have NEVER been told I was graceful. I wish I was. My sisters are. I have friends who are but I'm not. Right now I have what I am sure is a broken toe. My 3rd one to break! I constantly have bruises where I run into things. I am a camper at heart and on outings I have slipped, tripped, and fallen and couldn't get up on more than one occasion. I'm not "given" to strong drink, take meds that matter, or have eyesight problems - I am just clumsy.

I may not be graceful but I am grace FULL.

Becoming grace full was as simple as accepting Jesus Christ as my savior. The day I gave up living my life on my own terms was the best day of my life. Some folks may say Christ is a crutch. He isn’t a crutch. He is my wheelchair, my life support, and most of all the best friend a girl could have. He took my sins and forgave them and said start over and I’ll help.

Here is where it gets sticky….
I wonder if people, who like me, who have lived an out of control or at best painful life are often left craving for a set of rules or formula to bring a sense of order and purpose back into their lives. Exhausted from the fruit of living life their own way they try church. Church is the perfect place to start to learn about God's plan. Hopefully they can learn that God’s plan isn’t about rules but about a relationship that is established through His grace.

What is grace?


a: unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification

b: a virtue coming from God

God’s grace is so intense that many of us struggle to wrap our minds around it. What? I am forgiven and get a second chance in life? It is such an out-of-this-world concept that the world keeps taking it (grace) and dressing it up in works because “works” are tangible.

a. activity in which one exerts strength or faculties to do or perform something:

b: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result.

Works make us feel a sense of value to God. This tragic way of thinking will leave you lost and frantic when circumstances arise that could keep you from performing. Our life’s value isn’t in a set of works or accomplishments but comes from a relationship with Christ. Accomplishments can naturally flow out of living a life that reflects the grace of God. Believe me there is a big difference from a God inspired effort vs. a man inspired effort. A big difference.

To enjoy an exciting grace-filled life with all its mountain tops and valleys you must become the eternal student. Commit to learn His ways and not fall into the "works" trap. Remember his gift to you was free. You cannot work to earn it. He isn't impressed by how tired you are from trying to please Him. You please Him because you are His.

Haven’t felt connected with Christ in a while? Been so busy you just plain miss Him? His grace is still in place. Read the book of John to help you fall in love with Christ all over again. When he talks about who he came to serve include yourself. He loves you and understands.

Enjoy living your grace full life.