Editor’s Note: Today we begin our countdown to the start of the summer season with Camp Meeting and our celebration of 50 years at Lake Agape. If you’d like to contribute your own memories of the past 50 years, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
When I think about 50 years at Lake Agape, I think about cycles and how sometimes God prepares us years in advance for things, without us even realizing. Now on the far end of nearly 30 years of my own life involved in Delanco Camp, I can catch a glimpse of some of these cycles.
In 1984, my parents bought a house in Delanco. I remember moving into town, seeing a shopping center in the middle of town. I wondered why it had that little sign out in front on Burlington Ave that said The Camp Meeting Grounds. I asked one of the kids that lived next door, Tim Bock, what that was all about. And he told me about Delanco Camp, how it used to be in town, but a while ago, it had moved out to Tabernacle.
Before long, Tim’s younger brother Todd had invited me to come to some sort of youth group thing at the church up the street. Some months later, I ended up going on a church retreat that was held at…. you guessed it, Delanco Camp. That was my first time on the grounds. I did that a couple of times, and eventually, the guys talked me into attending Teen Camp. I came back to Teen Camp that following Summer, and I can point to the spot in the tabernacle where on August 26, 1988, I made the decision to surrender all, and forever change the course of my life. Delanco Camp became a place near & dear to my heart, and I continued to stay involved as a counselor, various volunteer positions in the kitchen, and eventually, I found myself involved in the leadership of the organization, as a member of the Board of Directors.
Despite my growth over those years, I’d never really been terribly missions-minded. Then, there was going to be a missions trip, sponsored through Delanco, and I was going to be the representative from the board to attend. In between various ministries we worked with, we did a little touristy stuff as well. One day during that trip, I found myself standing on a hill called Slaine, where a man named Patrick once lit a bonfire, in defiance of the orders of the High King, who was celebrating some sort of Druid festival. We all know what happened to St. Patrick – how the King ended up converting, and Patrick’s legacy as one of the great missionaries in history was established. I stood on that hill, thinking about that long-removed day, and my view on missions was changed forever.
Fast forward to September 2001. I was working for a company that sold network equipment, covering a handful of carriers, and one of those customers had invited me to a meeting on the second Tuesday of that month. The location? 1 World Trade Center. Having worked in NYC for a good while, that wouldn’t be a big deal. Except, I had a Delanco board meeting on my calendar already, so I asked to reschedule that meeting. Well, everyone knows what happened on that Tuesday morning. About 8:45 that morning, my phone starting going crazy, with friends and family who all knew that I regularly worked in NYC wanting to check and see if I was alright. We all walked around in sort of a fog for days afterward. Not know what else to do, I went to the meeting, which was, as per our usual, held at Delanco. I remember being sort of stunned, telling my story of the meeting that I postponed in favor of the Delanco board meeting. I pondered the cycle of events that brought me to that day – moving, making some friends, going on a retreat, going to & working at camps, joining the leadership, and ultimately simply declining a meeting. Take any of those events out of the cycle, and life could be radically different for me. Were it not for that cycle of events, at around 8:45 a.m. on Sept 11, 2001, I would have probably been standing in line at the visitor’s desk in the lobby of 1 World Trade Center, or possibly grabbing something for breakfast in the cafeteria just off the 44th floor sky lobby. That meeting never got rescheduled.
Creeping up on 30 years of involvement at Delanco, I’m starting to see new cycles forming. I look at my son, now old enough to go to Delanco, and my daughter, who isn’t quite ready, and I wonder what cycles God’s putting in place for them in their lives, and what role Delanco Camp will play.
Join us at camp for the Lake Agape 50th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, June 6, at 5 p.m. Click here for more info.