Catch up! Read Part 1 and Part 2 here.
July 23, 1969
I sure am having a good time. Today Nancy and I went canoeing together. It was real fun. For breakfast we had pancakes, bacon, milk, and apple juice. For lunch, we had bread, corn, meatballs, potatoes, and salad. It was awful. And for dessert we had peaches. Everybody is so nice. Sally and I hated that salad we had for lunch. I’m writing after lunch. It is rest period. Tonight we’re going to the mountain chapel.
Having a great time,
PS How is Daddy, Sassy, Danny Boy, Lady, Midnight, and Dolly?
July 24, 1969
I love you so much. I want to come home so bad. When I read your letter, I cried. Tell Daddy I love him and miss him so much. My best friend is Sally. Mother, I wanted to buy you and Glo a gift, but I needed three cents. Please send it to me right away, please. I love you so much.
Your Favorite Daughter,
Catch up – read part 1 here.
Kim and I met at the office but quickly journeyed down to the dining hall. It was right before lunch so we had the pleasure of watching an impromptu game of GaGa and energizers on the front porch. “This is the sound of camp,” Kim remarked. And I do have to admit, there isn’t much better than the sound of 150+ campers singing, dancing, and praising God. We chatted with some of the staff about the week over a delicious lunch. And after finishing off the last of the watermelon, walked over to the meditation point overlooking the creek.
Now that are many words I would use to describe summer camp season at Asbury Hills, but quiet and peaceful typically aren’t two I pick. However, that’s just what it was sitting on those benches. The sun’s rays were warm, but the shade was cool. And while you could hear distant sounds of campers hiking and a group splashing at the pool, the main background music to our conversations was the sounds of Matthews Creek flowing beside us. As she brought out her letters, it was as if we could have been sitting there in her camper days in 1969.
July 22, 1969
I got the puppet, and I thought it was real sweet. I am having a great time. I have the best counselors. We have two – a boy counselor and a girl counselor. The boys sleep in a different cabin, but we do things together. We have seven people in our group. Their names are Betty, Christine, Betty Jo, Sally, Gina, and Nancy who is sleeping above me. Everybody is so nice. Today we took a test to see who could go out in a canoe. I passed. Jo, Ann, Robin, and I are all in different groups. Well I guess I better quit writing, and write everybody else.
I first met Kim a few years ago when she came onto the South Carolina Camps and Retreat Ministries board. From that first meeting, her love of Asbury Hills was evident. Flash forward three years to the April 2015 board meeting. The official business of planning and finances had concluded, and some board members were sharing a few reflections. Kim began sharing with the board:
As some of you may know, my mother passed away this fall. I began the process of going through all of her belonging and found a box of letters she had saved – every letter and card I had written to her during my time at Asbury Hills. I read through them, and they brought back so many memories of good friends and time spent at camp. But they also reinforced my deep, deep love of that place.
After she finished, we look at each other and knew – that’s a story that needs to be told. It took a couple months before our schedules aligned, but in mid-June, we both made our way up the mountain to meet at Asbury Hills.
I make the drive several times a week during the summer from my home or office in Greenville up to the camp. And it never fails that as soon as I hit the edge of Travelers Rest and a catch a view of the mountains, everything feels right in my soul. There is power in a journey up a mountain.
As I was enjoying my drive, little did I realize, Kim was having a different experience getting to camp. Summer rainstorms had brought ants to her home, so she spent her morning dealing with the exterminator. As soon as she was free, she popped in her new James Taylor CD and started the drive. A little ways down the road, a tractor pulled in front her car. Then a little further, a logging truck followed by a UPS truck. Then, a little after that – a car with out of state plates who was obviously in a hurry. Finally she conceded. “All right God. I get it. Time to slow down.” So she turned up James Taylor, settled in, and enjoyed the drive.
On a hot summer day, there might not be anything more refreshing than a hike down Matthews Creek. It’s challenging. It’s an adventure. It’s refreshing. And it’s pretty spectacular that the same waters hiked down by the very first Asbury Hills campers in 1961 is still a favorite activity being enjoyed by each camper today.
Last night marked the [almost] end to staff training with worship, communion, and staff commissioning. It was a great night for many reasons, one of which being the reminder of the thin places.
thin place: those rare locals where the distance between heaven and earth collapses
Moses received the ten commandments on the top of the mountain. Jesus frequently went to the top of the mountain to pray. Ancient churches were frequently built as high a possible on a hill or mountain. Thin places.
There is something about being in nature, particularly on a mountain, that allows you to feel God’s presence. Are you physically closer to heaven? Probably not. But thin places require struggle. Thin places mean giving up control. Thin places mean surrendering ourselves so that we may more fully experience God.
I believe Asbury Hills is one of those places. One of those places where God seems just a little bit more available. personable. present.
We are on pace for 1100 campers to gather at Asbury Hills this summer. Welcome. Be ready to meet God.