I am a kitchen mom at church camp. (This is much better than being called cafeteria lady.) I go with our church youth group, grades 6 to 12, to camp and along with 3 other kitchen moms we cook and feed this hungry crew for 6 days. This year we went to a camp just outside of Lynchburg, Tennessee on the rolling hills close to Tim’s Ford. We had 120 campers and counselors.
We head up along with the youth minsters, interns and seniors on Saturday afternoon to unload supplies and set up before campers come on Sunday afternoon. Sunday morning we gathered around the flagpole to worship together. We shared with each other what we most looked forward to at camp. We divided up and prayed over the whole camp. This is so powerful to me. It really brings to focus why we are here. I looked over the camp and I see people I love praying over the field where the kids will play, praying over the cabins where the kids will rest, and praying over the mess hall where we will all fellowship together. I spotted Robin, the youth minster’s wife, slip out our bedroom. She had been praying for the kitchen moms. My heart is happy.
There is a lot of planning that goes into cooking at camp. Last year was our first year and we learned many things… campers don’t eat big lunches, they drink a lot of Gatorade, they waste paper cups, teenage boys eat tons, the girls love the salads, Levi Sellers eats lots of croutons. This year we tweaked this and that and learned a few more things…. Wal-mart plastic cups that the campers decorate with paint pens and keep all week long is the way to go, when it’s cooler they eat tons more, Lemonade at meals only, water the rest of the time, bring a brother with a smoker, (Yeah, Craig), find out if Levi is coming before buying 6 Sam’s Club bags of croutons.
I grew up going to church camp and have wonderful memories of those weeks and I absolutely love being at camp as an adult. The different cabins help with clean up in the kitchen after each meal. After they are finished I take their group pictures. I love seeing the transformation the groups make from the first time we see them till they help again later in the week. They have bonded. They squeeze in tight among friends for the picture.They are silly. They work together to get the job done, leaving no one out. It’s just a glimmer of sweetness, to watch the teen boys put on rubber gloves and wash the forks and sweep the floors. We get big hugs from the hungry boys that we slip double helpings to.
The kitchen moms really bond too, this is our second year together working side by side. We laugh a lot and even shed a tear or two. We pick right up where another leaves off, getting a big job done with joy. Being a kitchen mom is a blessing. It’s an honor to work with Missy, Lori and Connie.Camp is just fun stuff! We have craft time. I got to pick out the crafts this year and we did awesome things. They are on my Pinterest board under Crafty Goodness. We did the Elmer’s Glue Tie Dye T-shirts, DIY Wrap Bracelet (with ball chain), Wrap Bracelet, old school Pet Rocks. Sweet Laura, who is an amazing artist in college, gave up a week to come be crafty at camp and taught everyone how to be crafty too. They all turned out really great. Especially neat was the t-shirts and ball chain wrap bracelets.
The games the kids played at night were great fun to watch. Gigantic slip and slide, another night some kick ball game that you had to jump in a kiddie pool of shaving cream on 2nd base! Craziness. We had smores by the fire one night. I was the marshmallow lady. I was quite popular. I was right up there with the chocolate bar lady!
We had to make a few runs to Tullahoma to replenish our fresh supply and with the cooler temps these kids were eating a lot more than last year!! G2 cabin had a special request… they had found $20 in their cabin and no one claimed it so they wanted us to buy them orange crush in glass bottles and chocolate bars to enjoy during “feet off the floor” time. Walmart only had one six pack and we need another. There was one way in the back that had fallen between the cracks. Our little kitchen mom Connie went in for it. I snapped pictures to document the depths that we will go to make these kids happy. Missy was worried Connie was going to get lost so made a grab to rescue her.
I took several pictures of the beautiful countryside on the way to the grocery. The cows were quite interested in me. We saw turkey and a large rabbit that must have escaped his cage! Also spotted a quilt on a barn which will really become come to play in a future post.
Although we missed the daily lessons, the nightly worships our work was done and we could slip in to the darkened worship center and rest our weary bodies and fill our souls with the sweet sounds of the youth singing, singing without worry, without judgement as they poured out their hearts to God. It was my favorite time of the day. My heart was touched as I watched these kids and the emotions they felt as camp washed over them each night. I love the words to the songs we sing. I love hearing the kids pray. I love the messages spoken each night. My hope is found.
The last night Jenna told the campers about how we prayed over the camp on Sunday before the campers arrived. She told us how she went to the entrance of the camp and prayed protection over the camp. She drew a line in the dirt across the entrance and declared in Jesus’ name that satan was not permitted here. She said she knew she couldn’t keep him from them forever, but he couldn’t come on to this holy ground, not that week. She prayed that God’s Spirit would fill the camp so that there would be no room for the enemy to even try to get in.
I took sweet strong Jenna by the hand the morning we left and took her picture by the gate. I am so proud of her and so thankful for her. I am thankful for Aubrey and Robin too. You bless the lives of our teens and their families.
There I was scrubbing 100 lbs of potatoes and Laney and Natalie asked if they could help. When Laney found out we had to wash all of them she fist pumped and said “Yes!” Gotta love that spirit! They were awesome company in the kitchen and great help. They came everyday to see how they could help. One day they got to taste test the funnel cakes. Much more fun than scrubbing potatoes. Thank you girls.
We had snacks every night. They loved the funnel cakes and pizza bites the best. But the boys got a little rowdy when it came time for handing out thirds for the pizza bites. It was all in fun. They loved them! Not one leftover. Click Here for the easy recipe using flaky biscuits. The secret is to get a good quality pizza sauce. NO ragu. Nancy found Contadina Pizza sauce in a squeeze bottle. This rocks! Especially when making 600! Yes 600!
What a beautiful post. It made me cry. You are such a talented writer and such a beautiful person. I remember making memories with you at camp when we were kids. Now you are helping to make those memories happen for the next generation. Thanks for sharing.
Thank you Cheryl. I cried too. Experiencing camp and writing about it. Yes we share many happy camp memories together for many years. Such fun times. Katey
Thank you so much for the memories, for your example, and for your love for our kids and our Lord!
Thank you for sharing your heart – it is so precious!
Thank you Jenny. I appreciate your comment and you reading my story.
Looks like you had a great church camp! Our group was there the week before you guys! We love that camp! We also go to fall retreat there. Jenna is also very special to us! She went to the same church as my husband growing up! Wow! This is a small world!