Today marks day 49 of our 50-day countdown to the start of Camp Meeting and the celebration of 50 years at Lake Agape.
It’s hard to talk about Lake Agape without talking about the lake’s most famous resident, Wompus. Ask any of the young campers about Wompus and they’ll talk your ear off, but who is Wompus and where did this camp legend come from?
The short story is that Wompus is the name given to the large snapper turtles that occupy Lake Agape.
As best as I’ve been able to gather, the name originated with a guy named Joe Barrett and Michael Smith in the early ’90s. He and Michael Smith spent a lot of time out at camp with their church – Dobbins United Methodist Church in Delanco – and Joe took to calling one large turtle Wompus.
“I was probably 14 or 15 at the time and Mike was 11 or so,” Joe told me in an email he sent me back in 2008. “I remember we were actually afraid to go swimming because of that turtle (in retrospect I think it was quite harmless). I remember we would sit on the gazebo and Wompus would lurk up to the front of the gazebo and stick his head up to the water’s surface and just kind of watch you (which is strange for a snapping turtle who are abnormally reclusive).”
Somehow the name stuck from there and his popularity grew enough that we started producing Wompus t-shirts sold in the camp store. Do you have any stories or memories of Wompus at camp? Let us know in the comments. Want to contribute to our 50 Years of Lake Agape series? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join us at camp for the Lake Agape 50th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, June 6, at 5 p.m. Click here for more info.