After 51 years of camp, many things have changed and evolved, and yet many things are still exactly the same. We may have added things including more cabins, new activities, and bigger trips (plus seatbelts and life jackets!), but the core of what makes Falling Creek meaningful to so many is still the same. Though initially one might come for the fun activities, the friendships are what keep you coming back year after year. The people are at the heart of what makes Falling Creek important to all, and have been from the beginning.
Every year during Main Camp, we celebrate those who have been returning to Falling Creek for at least 5 years. We enjoy a “5 Year Dinner,” complete with hors d’oeuvres and freshly grilled steaks. The campers and staff look forward to this celebratory meal each year, and we host it to honor the commitment and multiple years of influence that these boys have shared with camp. To begin the evening, we enjoyed some socializing on the porch while eating spinach and artichoke dip, cheesy chili dip, and assorted crackers. We also enjoyed ice cold Cheerwine sodas, just like on Cookout Supper evenings.
After some time to snack and talk, everyone moved into the Dining Hall, which was decorated with white tablecloths and blue hydrangea flowers, freshly cut from Marisa’s garden. Yates welcomed everyone and thanked them for continually returning as a part of the Falling Creek Community, then began to play the “Behold50” movie on the projector so that we could all watch it together. This movie is a historical compilation celebrating the past 50 years at camp, complete with both vintage footage and recent interviews, helping to tell the comprehensive story of how Falling Creek came to be what it is today. Watching the history of camp unfold during the movie was special, because the boys at the “5 Year Dinner” are part of the history of camp themselves, contributing to Falling Creek every year with the personalities and skill sets that they bring to camp. The movie was made for the 50th anniversary reunion this past fall, and it is posted on our website here if you haven’t had a chance to see it yourself.
Along with the ribeye steaks that Chef David and Chef Williams spent all afternoon grilling, we enjoyed orzo pasta salad with mozzarella cheese and heirloom tomatoes, bacon wrapped asparagus, chargrilled portobello mushrooms, peppers, and onions, and warm bread rolls. I sat next to Henry, who was sharply dressed in a green tie and matching green pants. Since this was his fifth year, it was the first time that he had been to the “5 year dinner.” “I think this is really cool,” he told me, cutting into a steak that was even bigger than his face. When I asked him what made him come back every year, he thought for a moment and said, “I just really like Falling Creek as a whole.” Sam has been coming for 8 years as a camper, and confirmed that the people are what keep him coming back. “I keep returning for the camaraderie,” he explained, “And all my friends are here. I like the brotherhood.” Next to him, Harry had been returning for 5 years. “It’s just fun,” he told me, as Sam nodded in agreement.
After dinner, we were treated to huge apple pie pastries as we finished watching the rest of “Behold50.” After the movie, Yates closed out the dinner. “Falling Creek would not be what it is without all of you,” he said. During the movie, one of the interviewees says that Falling Creek is like a river running through the lives of all who come in contact with it. Though our campers and counselors are from all over the world and all walks of life, they share a common theme through camp, with Falling Creek uniting the lives of so many from generation to generation.
Though the “5 Year Dinner” specifically celebrates those who have been to camp five years or more, the camp community would not be the same without every single person, regardless of how many summers they have been to Falling Creek. Whether it is your first year or your fiftieth, every boy and counselor plays an integral role in shaping the camp community. Many of those interviewed in the “Behold50” movie were only at camp for that inaugural summer, and look what an impact they made in just one year. This camp is a band of brotherhood 51 years strong, and all who play a part are intertwined in the community and traditions forever. For those boys and counselors who have not quite been to camp for five years yet, they enjoyed a cookout supper on the field with hamburgers, potato salad, coleslaw, and Texas caviar (black eyed peas, corn, pepper, and tomato salad). They completed their meal with brownies for dessert and refreshing Cheerwine sodas.
After everyone was finished with dinner, we met as a whole camp community at Campfire. Sundays are not only a more relaxed day at camp with the opportunity for Special Signups in the afternoons, but they are also a time when everyone can catch up on stories from the week’s adventures, and spend quality time with their cabin mates and friends before heading off on out-of-camp trips again. One of the most cherished times of the week happens on Sunday evenings at Campfire.
As the whole camp community crosses Bain Bridge and files quietly into the Campfire area, the whole mood becomes more reverent and reflective. Tonight’s Campfire was centered around “serving others,” setting the theme for the Evening Embers discussions and Tribal Campfire talks for this coming week. Kyle shared that Falling Creek has always held service in high regard. He reminded us that Jim Miller always said that the secret of Falling Creek is “unselfishness." He also shared James 2:14-24, and we enjoyed skits and singing just like every Sunday Campfire.
Two highlights of tonight’s Campfire were tapping new members into the Honor Council, and recognizing new Journeymen. Edward G., from Memphis, TN, Zell G., from Houston, TX, and Bobby J., from Atlanta, GA were all elected tonight. Their fellow campers and staff feel they consistently model and uphold the Falling Creek Code and Honor Creed. Additionally, a huge honor included recognizing the five new Journeymen at camp. These five young men have recently attained Warrior in three different activities, and will now be eligible to begin a “journey” towards the end of the session that will test them mentally and physically. If they pass the test, they will be honored with the status of “Keeper of the Flame,” one of the most prestigious titles a camper can attain.
Our five newest Journeymen are Heath S., Julian D., John E., Walter M., and Raines K.. Each boy was introduced to the camp community by the counselor he chose as a mentor during tonight’s Campfire. Heath’s mentor is Josh Cooey, who read Luke 8:15 and shared that the name “Heath was derived from an English surname that denoted one who lived on a heath, an area of open uncultivated land ripe for growth and opportunity, much like Heath.” This is Heath’s 7th year, he is from Jackson, Mississippi, and his three Warrior levels are in basketball, flag football, and woodworking.
Julian is from Clinton, North Carolina, and has been to camp for 8 summers, attaining Warrior in horseback, nature, and pottery. His name is derived Julius, and his mentor, Patrick McGrady, read Acts 27:1-3 during Campfire: “When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment. The next day we landed at Sidon; and Julius, in kindness to Paul, allowed him to go to his friends so they might provide for his needs.”
John’s mentor, Scotty Nease, shared that the name John “originates from the Hebrew meaning ‘to be gracious’, but this name owes its popularity to two New Testament characters, both highly revered saints.” John has been coming to Falling Creek for 7 years and hails from Wilmette, Illinois. He has attained Warrior in disc golf, rock climbing, and the HEAT.
Walter has been coming to camp for 9 years, and his mentor, Matthew Kornegay, had many great things to say about him. “He is intuitive and insightful. Walter is tenacious and never gives up. He is idealistic and expressive, holds his family close to his heart and believes in lending a helping hand. He is admired for his dedication and is most creative with his hands.” Walter is from Charlotte, North Carolina, and has three Warrior levels in horseback, nature, and pottery.
Raines K., a 7-year camper from Miami, FL, reached Warrior in Disc Golf, Lacrosse, & Flag Football. Brian Everette, his mentor, shared that Knight “is a man awarded a nonhereditary title by the sovereign in recognition of merit or service and entitled to use the honorific “Sir” in front of his name”. Brian read Galatians 6:2- “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ”.
After honoring each boy and finishing our 2nd week Campfire, we ended the day with Taps. All is certainly well, and God is certainly nigh, just as Taps say.
More Highlights From This Sunday:
- We start each Sunday with an extra hour to sleep in, followed by a later breakfast with Krispy Kreme doughnuts! Always a hit.
- During this morning’s church service, we closed out the theme of this second week: anger. Dusty and Kyle discussed how to deal with anger in a positive and prayerful way.
- Cabins 9, Ishi, Junaluska, Rolling Thunder, and Ocoee had the cleanest cabins in their tribe during inspection, meaning that they were first in line for weekly ice cream sundaes after the classic fried chicken lunch!
- We celebrated 2 birthdays today! Mac B. turned 14, and Lance W. turned 11.