Well Younger Son is back in the fold after another successful time at camp.
Younger Son attends Kanakuk Kamps (yes they spell it with a K) near Branson, Missouri. It’s a Christian Sports Camp – actually a number of different camps, divided by age levels -- and this was his third summer to attend “K-2,” the kamp for high schoolers, for a 25-day term. He “majors” in football so spends a lot of time with that, but also fishes, swims, jumps off cliffs into lakes (much to my chagrin), explores caves and generally has more fun than most of us can imagine. He also is encouraged and challenged spiritually. He absolutely loves it.
Wife and I followed our usual custom of going for the closing ceremonies then bringing him home. It’s a long trip (about a nine-hour drive from home). Fortunately he’s able to ride a camp bus when he goes. We love having the extended time with him on the way home to hear all his stories.
Since it’s such a long haul, Wife and I usually include some time in Little Rock to break it up when we go get him. She went over a couple of days ahead of me and I joined her Friday night. We had a celebration dinner with another couple who got married about a month before we did 25 years ago. We enjoyed a fun evening of reminiscing over 25-plus years of friendship.
We got up to Southern Missouri mid-afternoon Saturday, checked into our hotel and made it over to Kamp about 5 p.m. Younger Son did a marginally good job of feigning happiness upon seeing us, but, in reality, he knows that WE know that he is always sad when Kamp is over.
Some parents might find the closing ceremonies tedious – there are lots of talks and lots of award presentations -- but I love every minute of them. The staff there, including long-time Kamp Director Joe White, one of the most inspirational speakers I have ever heard, are experts at making all of the kampers feel special. I love seeing the smiles on their faces.
This year was especially meaningful for Younger Son and for us. I won’t go into all of the details, which get a little complicated, but all of the Kanakuk Kamps, following the Native American theme, are divided into two tribes and the kampers remain in those for all the years they go to Kamp. There are various competitions and games throughout the terms between the tribes and one tribe is declared the winner at the close.
When the kampers get to Younger Son’s age level, the tribes elect “chiefs” and “princesses” to be the Kamp leaders for the various kamps for the next summer. It is a huge honor and of course a tremendous affirmation to be selected by your peers. Younger Son, much to our surprise and honor, was elected to be chief of one of the kamps next summer.
I could never accurately describe the magnitude of the grin on his face when his name was called, and I believe he walked a couple of feet off the ground as he went forward to accept his appointment. His mom and I also had hearts full to capacity.
Younger Son knows me all too well. When he came over to let us congratulate him, he said, “I’m sure you heard the part about being on full scholarship next summer?!”
I allowed as to how I thought that might be part of the deal.
In all seriousness, though, I am proud of him beyond measure. I have often thought that maybe, he being the youngest of my brood, I have babied him too much, done too much for him and/or held on too tight to his childhood because I know when he leaves this nest, said nest will be an empty one. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing, but those who know me well know I don’t accept change and transition very well and I have to at times have a little nudging in that area.
I have seen my older two out the door while holding onto their ankles, offering all kinds of bribes if they wouldn't go. OK that’s a bit of an exaggeration . . . but not much. And I know it will probably be worse with him. So maybe, I have sometimes thought, I have not done right by him in my holding on too tight.
But Younger Son, even though he is our “baby,” – all 200-plus pounds of him – is showing us what he’s made of. He’s ready to lead and he’s ready to spread his wings. In spite of some of his earthly father’s bumblings, his Heavenly one is molding his character.
As for me, I could not be happier for him. He will make an incredible chief.