By Dusty Davis (FCC Chaplain)
Has it really been thirty-three years since I first ground the gears on my old Jeep to make it up the narrow gravel road to Falling Creek? I had just wrapped up my first year at Auburn University and driven up for staff training on little sleep, but with plenty of post-exam euphoria. For a flatland Alabama boy, I was in very new territory. The cool evenings in the Blue Ridge Mountains off of Bob’s Creek Road were a welcome change from the sweltering heat back home.
I hardly knew anyone, but my intimidation evaporated as quickly as the morning fog on the upper lake when I saw how friendly and welcoming everyone was. By the first campfire, I knew that not only did I have some great adventures in store, but I had dozens of new brothers to experience them with. I showed up that first summer relatively inexperienced in many of the mountain sports and camp activities, stuff we jus’ couldn’t do back on the farm in “Bama!”
Typical for a twenty year old counselor, I looked forward to my days off and to session breaks. I was constantly dropping hints in the dining hall to see if some of the more veteran staff members would be willing to take me out on an adventure.
The climbing legend of all Carolina rock, Mr. Steve Longenecker, was kind enough to oblige. He took me, a complete newbie, up his classic route called, “The Nose” of Looking Glass Rock. The Brown brothers, David and Bucky, let me tag along with them on the French Broad and Chattooga rivers. And Garrett Randolph often hunted me down for a sunset trail run through the rhododendrons. I felt included and valued.
Now when I look back, I realize that in each of these scenarios and many more, the senior counselors chose to drop down to a level below their expertise, so they could bring me along on their adventures and help me improve. What an unselfish thing to do! Longenecker didn’t need to burn his one day off climbing Looking Glass Rock for the umpteenth time…but he did. And I’m sure David and Bucky would rather have paddled more challenging sections of the rivers than the routes they chose for me, but each of these men, my mentors, wanted to pass the torch to me. They wanted me to love climbing and paddling and trail running as much as they did, so they selflessly taught me the skills they had spent years mastering. From them, I learned the importance of sharing my passions with the next generation of Falling Creek brothers.
What a perfect example of a Servants Heart.
Taking the initiative to help others is one of our core-values at camp. I was lucky enough to be the recipient of LOTS of help that first summer and, believe it or not, many of the activities that my family enjoys to this day have their roots in what I learned at Falling Creek way back then.
So, in this New Year, don’t just let your resolutions be about self-improvement, but set out to improve others. Take some less-experienced kids out with you in the same way my FCC brothers did for me a quick thirty-three years ago.