GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–When Heather Murry tried to enroll her children in camp at Ridgecrest, no spots were open at the site in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Camp staff suggested their newer sister camp near Santa Fe, N.M. The mother of five from Conyers, Ga., said that was divine providence.
“Glorieta boys and girls camps are the jewel of the Southwest — it’s an undiscovered treasure,” Murry said. “We wouldn’t trade any camp in the world for this one. It has everything from good, old-fashioned archery and canoeing to worship and quiet times all in one of the most beautiful settings you’ll ever experience.”
Murry’s five children agreed — or at least they did when you could get them to slow down long enough to talk. The two-week camp for children who have finished first through 10th grade is chock-full of activity.
Camp Glorieta for Boys, Camp Glorieta for Girls and Glorieta Family Camp (debuting in 2010) are the three elements of the Glorieta Summer Camps program offered by LifeWay Christian Resources.
“We are always, always busy doing something,” 10-year-old Jimmy Murry said while waiting his turn at four square. “It’s pretty fun — especially since we don’t have to see our sisters that much.”
A chorus of boos sounded as the entire younger boys’ cabin, including younger brother Paul, backed up Jimmy’s statement. They happily explained that the girls stay on their side of the camp while the boys stay on their own side. This brought laughter from a counselor who noted that the boys were still sore about losing to the girls on Newspaper Night, one of the few activities where the two camps interact.
Heather Murry, from Belmont Baptist Church in Conyers, took in the scene, beaming at the camaraderie among the boys. This was exactly what she imagined her kids would experience at camp in having fun and growing in Christ. After making the 1,400-mile trek from Georgia, camp staffers suggested Murry stay around and be the “Camp Mom.” Duties included washing more than 60 loads of camp laundry, which changed her mind slightly about “clean” fun — especially after mud pit day.
“Mom! Mom!” 9-year-old Paul exclaimed from the mud pit’s edge. “Did you see that? Did you see how much mud? Totally covered!”
It was hard to distinguish one boy from another. All were covered from head to toe in the slippery, dark gray slime, with only eyes and teeth shining bright white amid the laughter and horseplay.
Bible stories even came to life in the depths of the mud. A mud city design contest found one cabin building Jericho and its infamous falling walls. As the boys constructed their masterpiece, they recounted details of the story of Joshua and his army.
“The aim of many summer camps is to entertain the kids constantly, but look at these guys,” Murry said, pointing to the mud-caked melee. “They are making their own fun. You can’t plan this kind of creativity and impromptu Bible teaching.”
The three Murry sisters, on the other hand, crinkled their noses at the mention of the girls’ mud pit day. They admitted it was fun until it started raining. Twelve-year-old Meredith quickly changed the subject to her “all-time favorite” activity: horseback riding. As she went into great detail of how to brush a horse, others from her cabin added their own tips. As the various stories melted together, excitement mounted for actually riding the horses. A first-grader stepped from behind the group and made her voice known: “It’s just the bestest thing ever!”
This is the first camp experience for Ally Murry, 14. She admitted she was pretty nervous in the beginning but quickly realized how silly that was. She couldn’t imagine missing the fun of singing and dancing or participating in the Circle of Progress. Dressed in black shorts and white tops for the ceremony, the girls began the Circle of Progress in total silence. A sense of seriousness enveloped the room as a camp counselor explained the ceremony. Each camper received an “honor necklace” and learned the “secret” Glorieta girls’ handshake. A different colored bead represented each cabin. Campers had opportunities throughout the two weeks to earn more beads based on different activities.
“Why do we use a circle?” the counselor asked. “A circle means unity. We are coming together as one group of girls put on this earth for one purpose — to serve God.”
Slowing down enough to hear God is something campers in the older girls’ cabin relished. Alexis Murry, 15, and her cabin mates said they like getting away from the busyness of their mid-teen years and just hanging out with each other and God. With no computers, no television and no cell phones, the teens filled their time canoeing, camping and hiking.
“It’s awesome. There’s nothing to worry about here,” Alexis said with a wistful sigh. “It’s just two weeks of pure fun. And there’s not a more beautiful place in the world to talk to God than in the [Glorieta’s] Prayer Garden.”
The intimate setting was part of what Heather was searching for in a camp. She pointed out that counselors have a lot of one-on-one time with the campers, and the children become friends with everyone.
“Glorieta is a smaller camp with fewer kids, but they have just as many activities as the one at Ridgecrest,” Heather said. “It’s just a good, old-fashioned camp experience like I had as a child.”
Sue Sprenkle lives and writes from her home in western Kansas. For more information about Glorieta Summer Camps, including next year’s new Family Camp, visit GlorietaCamps.com or call 1-866-794-CAMP (2267).