50 Years at Lake Agape: Down By the Well

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Editor’s Note: Today is Day 45 of our celebration of 50 Years of Lake Agape and the countdown to the start of Camp Meeting. If you’d like to contribute to this series, email blog@delanco.org. 

Jeff and I were newlyweds, just married about six months when we were asked to join the music staff of the Delanco Family Camp Week back in 1974. We have Dave VanSciver of then Ocean Grove, NJ, to blame for all this. He’s the one who thought we were worthy of such an invite. And that first visit turned out to be a life-time of memory making Delanco calendar stops from 1974 all the way through to as recent as 2010.

I remember meeting Carlton Bodine Sr., president of Delanco Camp and recalling him eyeing us up and down. I’m sure he was thinking, “There’s no way that these radical contemporary singers will fit into our more conservative audience.”

He probably was right. The song services, as they called them in ’74, were much more traditional and more mainstream, usually led by inspirational artist, Frank Jacobs. On the piano was the ever-present Mary Boughton, a favorite for many years. So, to break in to this well-established Delanco machine was no easy fete. But we were no dummies either. In while I would have loved to have turned up the amps and fire up our reel-to-reel tracks, filled with drums and Andrae Crouch songs, our very first song on that infamous July

Friday night in 1974 was “Down By The Well.” I chose this sacred song because it was written by good friends of the Bodines, Herb and Blanche Osborn of Bridgeton, NJ. I smile as I think even back then (only twenty years old), I knew what political persuasion and favor could do. Everyone smiled. Everyone lifted their hands. And the start of the Duffield music influence began at Delanco.

Needless to say, two twenty year olds – Jeff on the piano and me on vocal – were some of the early singers to introduce a more contemporary worship sound to Delanco Camp. Carleton Bodine, Jr., and his leadership, desired to reach out to a younger audience. The singing group he led, The King’s Crusaders, performed a mix of contemporary and gospel favorites sung by some of south Jersey’s best teens… many of whom are still our friends today.

On those July summer nights in the 70s when Family Camp was at its peak, you could hardly find an empty seat on those wooden benches. And be prepared, that if you didn’t come early enough for those evening services, you’d have to park way off in some sand ditch! It was an exciting time of our lives. It was the formation of our worship music. It was the beginning of something supernatural in the lives of teens as well as adults. Oh, and we can’t forget the sandpit softball games with Jerry Ruff! We’d die of exhaustion and heat, but those were some great duels. After ten days in a row of softball, singing, leading devotions, consuming some pretty doggone good camp food, preaching, drinking way too much BOOST, and staying up late every night – I gotta say, “I miss it all.”

What are some of your favorite songs you remember singing at camp? Share in the comments below.

Join us at camp for the Lake Agape 50th Anniversary Dinner on Saturday, June 6, at 5 p.m. Click here for more info.

Lent Reflection: Whatever you bury inside, buries you

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I heard Dr. Janet Maccaro say on a network show, “Whatever you bury inside, buries you.” She is the author of A Woman’s Body Balanced by Nature. Sounds like a book every woman should read. A woman in balance. A nature-balanced woman. A woman I know very well, comes immediately to mind. I’m planning on ordering this book for this woman. Her name is Sue. And she is me. 🙂

You might think of your year in seasons like, winter – spring – summer – fall. This sugar-addict-turned-holistic-attempting-dried-fruit-nut, used to categorize my year this way: Valentine candy hearts, Girl Scout Cookies, Easter peanut butter eggs, candy corn and Christmas cookies. That’s my definition of the seasons. And since I’m aware of my insatiable desire for sweets (no matter what it is), I bury all the reasons why I have such an addiction to begin with: Sugar tastes good. It’s an instant fix, an instant high with a deadly future.

I haven’t completely deleted all sugar from my so-called diet or way of life, but I’m not eating nearly as much as I used to. There’s an irony in this process too. While not giving in to my palate’s desires while guarding the intake of “sweet,” I uncover some unfinished business in my spiritual and emotional reality. How can this be? How in the world can something so simple as deleting sugar expose a raw nerve or a discovery about my inner self.

Health professionals are in agreement: Sugar is in just about everything you eat. It covers up anything that (on its own) doesn’t taste good. Keeping that in mind, it takes great discipline to read labels, to learn what foods (natural or not) are low in a glycemic index, and to keep the sugary processed stuff out of your mouth. I’m not an expert but I read labels and I also see the huge difference in my body and disposition when I just stay away from the sweet stuff.

“So, what is this really about, Sue??”

  • I deleted the sugar (the fluff, the addiction, the cover-up) to find that there’s no replacing what the power of the Holy Spirit can do.
  • I deleted the sugar (the trends, the competition, the rat race) to find out that God is more concerned about what my real motives are.
  • I deleted the sugar (the pride, the need to be right, the controlling spirit) to find out that my knees need to bow daily to Him and not the intoxicating toxin called ego. All along it’s been the sugar of my own gospel that’s been hiding all this stuff.

It’s a good thing to overcome an addiction. Don’t get buried in a sugar bowl.

Ironically, I speak and sing for events around the country called “Chocolate & Chuckles!” (I eat the strawberries!) And my latest album is called Sweet Life. But the real teaser and twist to it all is – nothing, absolutely nothing – is sweeter than a real relationship with Jesus Christ. Now that takes the cake… No cover up here.

Sue Duffield is a musician, speaker and humorist based in Nashville. She is an alumnus of Delanco Camp and has performed at Camp Meeting. This post originally appeared on her blog.