Wickes, AR. I bet most of you have no idea where that place even is. Well if you are sitting in Siloam Springs, you just drive straight south for about 3.5 hours on 71 and there it is. It is approximatley 20 miles south of Mena, AR. Small, small, town, but they have the best side of the road burger stand on the planet, not much else goes on there. However, each year I make that drive and spend a week in Wickes, Ar at Bogg Springs Baptist Camp off Hwy 84, actually the entire “highway” is really just a long drive way to the entrance of the campgrounds. I have to admit the first time I saw that campground I was ready to go back home. Some things have changed some things haven’t but I love that campground more each year.
2003, the year it began. 2003 was the year that two AWANA camps, one from Iowa, one from Lousianna were combined. The first year that both Caleb and I attended camp as campers together….only we didn’t know it at the time. He and his two best friends (remeber the Turpins??), started a “club” to say the least called the Goatee Brothers United (please don’t ask), and carried out the general chruch camp antics, skits, and were by all means the “kings of camp.” Somehow I manged to remember the Turpins, Andrew and Alex but didn’t really remember Caleb. Fast forward to 2010, and Caleb and I are talking about these events at camp, only this time we are both camp counselors.
Mr. Henri (the camp director), must of been extremley desperate for camp counselors that year, he let both Caleb and I be in charge of multiple children for an entire week. But as the week went on, the group of younger conselors would meet under a pavillion to complain to our former conselors about all the craziness that was going on in the cabins. Our former counselors would then remind us, that it is all payback for when we were campers that age. (Let it be noted I was always the ideal camper…..Caleb was a different story). Then we would head back to our cabins and somehow manage to get all the campers in their bunks and asleep.
As the week of camp was coming to a close Caleb had been trying to find a good time to ask me out; I was totally oblivious to anything that might of been taking place to try and make this happen. Finally on Thursday evening he was able to pull me aside and ask me out……my answer was a hard a fast NO!! Caleb was evidentlyey crushed and went sadly back to his cabin.
Friday night comes along, and myself and one other younger counselor, Katie are put in charge of staying up and monitoring the campers who don’t want to go to bed. It’s the normal try to stay up all night the last night of camp tradition, and during this time I discover a very important piece of information that I did not previously have. That information was, Caleb wasn’t married. You are proably thinking……what the heck at this point, so let me explain.
So I have never been the greatest with left and right, especially when someone is facing me. Caleb wore a small gold band his mom had given him on his RIGHT ring finger, so when I face him and when we would spend time together it was my LEFT. I feel like this would confuse a lot of people, but maybe not. Anyway, now you know why my answer was a hard a fast NO when he asked me out the previous night. Katie was very quick to point out my mistake, and one of the older counselors Mrs. Nevill, who somehow heard the entire conversation, was willing to do what was needed to make sure neither Caleb or myself left camp without seeing each other. And as they say, the rest is history.
So you can see why Bogg Springs Baptist Camp is important to both Caleb and myself, but that isn’t the only reason why we love camp. Camp has truly given us a second family, our “camp family”. A group of now adults who went through camp as campers, and never stopped coming back. Now our camp family all serves in various roles through the year to make sure camp stays up and running. We have all been through big life events together. As a camp family we have celebrated weddings, graduations, births, new job opportunities and so on. We have also mourned the loss of loved ones, prayed for each other in a miraid of different situations and grown close through it all. We even organized our own “family retreat”, as a way to spend time together with each other outside of camp.
There is a saying “home is where the heart is”, and I can for sure say that Bogg Springs Baptist Camp is a home for me. I have had the opportunity to travel to many places and see some truly amazing sites, and I have to say the view off the porch of the nurse’s cabin at Bogg Springs will always be my favorite. It’s where I can serve a ministry and camp that I love. This year is my 20th year to attend camp is some capacity or another. I can’t believe it’s been that long, but I look forward to another 20.