Wednesday was the day Ken and Linda Miller had set aside to take us to visit the Comeraugh Boys Camp. If you’ve ever heard of Bald Eagle Boy’s Camp or the Ohio Wilderness Boy’s Camp, then you’re at least slightly familiar with this camp already. It is run by two young married men named Wes Sensenig and Nathan Yoder. Nat has grown up in Ireland, so he knows the heart of the country like few Americans. He is also the son of Dan Yoder, bishop of Dunmore East Christian Fellowship, who moved there with his family years and years ago. And Wes has moved there from Pennsylvania, where he was a very good chief at Bald Eagle Boy’s Camp. Right now the Comeraugh Camp is in its infant stages; this summer was the first time they had boys there. It’s located in a beautiful planted pine forest protected by the government. Through a long process of paperwork and formalities as well as hours of training and college study, the camp is where it is today. They worked (and still are working!) HARD to get it started and now it’s beginning to pay off. The changes the boys are making speak to their families in louder tones than words ever could. Parents are curious about this God, this way of life, that makes strong young men in the prime of their life abandon everything the world has to offer in pursuit of something they believe their God has called them to.
And maybe this is part of the reason why my Bible fell open to Isaiah 58 this morning:
“Is not this the fast that I have chosen?
to loose the bands of wickedness,
to undo the heavy burdens,
and to let the oppressed go free,
and that ye break every yoke?
Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry,
and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house?
when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him;
and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?”
The Israelites had been taking pleasure in the fasts that made themselves appear humble and contrite. They sat in public places with ashes on their head and sackcloth around their bodies. But they failed to see that real devotion to God requires service. Service to those who are oppressed and hungry. It requires that one must give; not until he has exceeded his brother’s gift, but until he has spent all of himself. Jesus said, “He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for My sake shall find it.” (Matt. 10:39)
God goes on to promise:
“Then shall thy light break forth as the morning,
and thine health shall spring forth speedily:
and thy righteousness shall go before thee;
the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward.
Then shalt thou call, and the LORD shall answer;
thou shalt cry, and he shall say, ‘Here I AM’.”
Isaiah 58: 8-9
All this to say: A life dedicated to God’s service and purpose is a life that SHINES. Put a few people like that together and give them a vision and mountains will move!
The atmosphere at camp is beautiful. Imagine pine trees as far as you can see in every direction, planted in orderly rows, marching on in perfect harmony into the distance. The forest floor is covered with pine needles which muffle every sound so that there is this stillness about camp that makes it feel holy. There’s a winding path that took us past great boulders and over little streams on our way to the actual campsite. Every seventh row of trees had been taken out, so every now and then we had to stop and stare down the chasm at the immensity of those trees! No silly sentimental feelings of delight or happiness could remain for long. For the silence in the forest spoke of something other than delight. More something like reverence and awe. Everything was hushed and still. A gentle rain was falling, completing the mystical scenes. Oh, it was awesome. Wow. These are painful memories. Let the photos speak. (While I go find a window to sit in front of and watch the rain fall as the sun rises.)
The leaders of the Boy’s Camp and their wives prepared a terrific lunch for us there. All the food was carried back and prepared over a fire. And what a spread. Wes grilled hamburgers and Nat fried the chips (sorta like french fries, only WAY better! in case you’ve never been to Europe) and sausages while the women fixed veggies, fruit and dessert. It was absolutely, hands-down, the BEST campsite meal I’ve ever had. Or ever expect to have, for that matter. Those chips…oh my. Wow. They were crunchy. But bite down and they burst. Have you ever had a french fry ‘pop’ in your mouth? Well okay so yeah french fries are so American. But Irish fries…they burst with softness and warmth and gooey goodness and you think ‘potatoes have never been this good’, and ‘mom, can you get this recipe?’ 🙂
So if you ask me if I enjoyed Ireland, I might be unable to answer you. I might close my eyes and be silent for a while. If you should ask me if I’d want to live there, I might crack open my eyes and look at you, ‘are you serious?’, and ‘in a heartbeat!’ Ireland was a place that stole my heart, in the way that part of me still feels attached to the Rathmoylan Cliff, the beach of Portally Cove, the rocks of the Hook Peninsula, or the moor at the Megalithique. This is the way I feel, and it’s hard to explain. Mama says to ‘just wait till you go to the next place; it’ll be the same way’, but I can’t agree. Ireland stole my heart, and I don’t want that part back.
On our way to the Camp, we stopped at the Mahon Falls. It was a long walk through a huge sheep pasture shared by several herds. Yeah. Sheep herds wandering around in the Comeraugh Mountains. It was grand. Anyways…
The Mahon valley. The falls feed this stream that winds through the valley. This scene makes you recite Psalm 23 to yourself.
This was one of the first glimpses of the Mountains. Also, do you see that GREEN GRASS?? Isn’t it completely and absolutely gorgeous?! (definitely greener on the other side of the pond. yup :)) That’s Nat, btw.
This is the tiny, charming trail back to camp. It’s so pretty.
And we arrived to this. The smell of frying hamburgers over a roaring fire, the best outdoor living room/kitchen I’ve ever seen!
Does anyone want to guess what this is? 🙂 Go on, try. Oh, never mind. Of course I wrote it on the picture, down at the bottom.
Nat and Wes had built a swing down on an empty seventh row. And Nat’s son was so eager to show it off. Obviously that boy has spent hours helping his daddy here at camp. He navigates through the woods like….a squirrel or something.