Another year, another death defying camp with pre-pubescent youth. This year was one for the record books though.
We loaded up the bus and headed for Camp Living Stones in Englewood, TN. My first reaction was it was not much different from other camps I had been to in the past, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
The first major adventure we had was a cave hike. No problem I thought, a nice walk thru a cave with a tour guide shining a light on some stalagmites while remarking how it resembles two squirrels fighting- been there, done that. Again, I was wrong. Our guide, Marcus, took us up a nice trail thru the Tennessee woods and to a opening in the side of a hill that was about the size, give or take, of my butt. I (and my butt) started getting a little tense at this point.
After shoving my gang of boys down the rabbit hole opening, I crawled in the cave with them. We looked around for a few seconds in a room that was just high enough to stand in and then proceeded on with our journey into middle earth. A few seconds later we were ankle deep in water.
The next part of the adventure was down some narrow corridors and I was feeling pretty confident that the rest of the exploration was going to be a cake walk. Marcus had other plans. We went down a passage called the “Gas Chamber” which consisted of crawling on your hands and knees while starring down the rear end of the guy in front of you, hence the name “Gas Chamber”. About this point my four year old son was screaming “Why Daddy Why?” while I gently encouraged him by letting him know if we did not keep moving we would all die. It seemed to work.
The next part was a little place they call the “Birth Canal”. It was a passage just big enough for you to get on your belly and crawl thru until you dropped out the other end into a rock crevice that took some fancy yoga moves to maneuver thru. I opted to go another route around the “Birth Canal”, I decided to call it the C- section route (Everyone else gets to give a cool name to places in the cave, why not me?). To get past the Birth Canal I had to get on my stomache and swim around a rock formation without a flashlight. Thats when I discovered I had to go under water and swim underneath a rock to get to the other side. Marcus did a great job encouraging me to get to the other side. At this point I started to get a feeling that I may get to see Jesus and all my dead relatives in the next few minutes, but I made it. All the kids made it thru the Birth Canal and a few minutes later we were standing in sweet daylight.
The next day we headed to a waterfall, where as you may have guessed, I decided to follow the crowd and jump off it. I slipped and landed side ways in the river below, but not before I let out a involuntary school girl shriek. I tried looking macho walking out of the river, but my wife still laughed at me. Lucky for me they got a picture of it.
Some of our boys did the rope course and zip line, climbed a rock wall and did some work projects. All of this was combined with a devotions and services. The food was top notch and the atmosphere was very family oriented. The staff is very professional and dedicated to providing the best possible experience your group can have, spiritual and physical. We spent an afternoon on Buck Bald mountain overlooking the mountains, played sports, ate and had an evening service. All in all it was a great experience.
I do recommend that your kids be middle or high school age. All of our kids are elementary and that did stop us from being able to participate in everything. If I had older kids, I would be there every year. It is an experience all teens would remember for a lifetime and could very well be a defining moment in their walk with Christ. Check them out at Camp Living Stones.