When I was camper, the Xeroxed address list distributed at the end of the week was crucial. Without it, there was basically no way to keep in touch with any of the friends you had made during the week.

When I’d get home from a week of camp, sleep deprived as I was, my thoughts would immediately shift to the friends I had spent the previous week with. Even before the first load of laundry was finished I’d have my pen out ready to write my first letter. I’d write letters to counselors thanking them for all of their hard work, to the evangelist for the week to discuss the impact the sermons had on my spiritual growth and of course to the girl I had developed a crush on but was too timid to have anything but awkward conversations with during the week.

There was a beauty in that exchange after camp. But it usually didn’t last. After a few letters were exchanged, life would get busy and I’d lose touch with my super cool camp friends from places like Neptune, Port Republic and Millville. Aside from the occasional encounters at the Ocean City retreat or Mid-Winter Advance at America’s Keswick, communication was difficult to maintain.

I realize in sharing this that I’m already showing my age. As a junior high camper I’m not sure I even knew what the word Internet meant. And as a teen camper Internet was this really cool, but extremely slow thing the school library had on only three computers. I had a hotmail address I was able to check once a month if I was lucky.

A decade later (I just got an e-mail about my 10-year high school reunion thank you very much) the camper address list is more or less a camp item that has gone the way of the duck house. Instead of “snail” mail addresses, the last day includes an exchange of screen names, social networking profile names and e-mail exchanges for those of us who still use e-mail.

Without getting into a theological discussion of the pros and cons of new media — particularly the social networking sites — one of the beautiful things about the way we communicate now is the friendships we make in the summer are much easier to maintain. I communicate now more than ever with campers I meet in the summer and I’ve been reconnected with dozens of people all over the country who were campers and staff “way back in the day” so to speak.

Sometimes these glimpses into lives from my camp past are disappointing — profiles littered with profanity, sexual innuendo and other debauchery making it appear as though some old camp friends have long forgotten the Delanco altar we all prayed at — but many times it’s a joyous occasion. It’s always a blessing to find old camp friends and see that they are serving in ministry or still active in their church and with their faith. I’m constantly reminded through the power of the Internet how small the world truly is and how much smaller it is because of Delanco Camp.

My hope is that with this blog we as a camp community will reconnect with old friends and meet new ones, encouraging one another in our faith and communicating the magnificent story God writes with our lives when we seek a closer walk with Him.

-Matt Ralph, Louisville, KY

10 thoughts on “This is my story

  1. When I got those address lists I would always take them home and count up how many kids came from Sicklerville and compare it to the other big churches like Millville and Port Republic. Sicklerville always won though!

    Then I would send a corny letter to my favorite counselor like Bryce Hogan.

  2. Oh the old address lists. I always had the best intentions when I got them but probably only actually wrote someone once or twice.

    I have long been opposed to what Matt describes as the “social networking sites”. Recently I finally signed up for one after being pressured by a few people who I don’t get to talk to very often. I finally realized that those sites can be used for good not just for evil (as I used to see it). I am able to no keep better in touch with some friends then I could in the past, as well as keep in touch with friends from camp, and even reconnect with friends who I haven’t talked to in quite a while.

    With that said, I do agree with you Matt on how small the world is. Now for the disclaimer, please everyone enjoy the internet responsibly.

  3. Bryce Hogan was always one of my favorite counselors too. Him and Job Brown. Both, incidentally, not from Sicklerville.

  4. Every once in a while I’ll run across one of the address sheets from when I was a junior high camper and look at the names. It’s like being in a time warp or something.

  5. Dave,
    If you come across an address list I’d love to just hear some of the names.

    There’s something really cool about hearing first and last names of people from the past. I just got a list of names from high school the organizers of my 10-year reunion are trying to reach. Reading over it brought back lots of memories and inspired me to contact some people I haven’t talked to in way too long.

    Have you ever listened to friends from high school share stories? They’ll often mention a certain name, pause and start laughing for a reason you would have had to have been there to understand. I love that kind of stuff.

  6. Dave,
    I think my Dad has that same 1992 list in his office… i believe it’s a list of like 160 campers or something like that

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