He was a punk rock, heavy metal, sometimes-bent-the-rules, little bit of daredevil, preacher’s kid. I was the preppy, matching hair-bow and sock, girl who followed every-single-rule I was ever given. We had no reason to be friends. We were too different.
Yet, we were the same in some ways, too. We both grew up in Disciples of Christ churches just 3 miles apart from one another. We both attended the same school district, although I was one year older and we started in separate elementary schools.
And we both loved church camp. We both really loved church camp.
Grant Story and I rode together on many van-trips up and down Hwy 31 from Waco to Athens, Texas, in our junior high and high school years. Sometimes, we were the only ones to attend from each of our respective churches and other times, we would be part of a van load of youth headed to the sacred space that we called church camp. Now called Disciples Crossing, it was and certainly is a place where the Spirit of God dwells richly.
You see, church camp is a place where everyone can escape from the “labels” and joys and struggles from everyday life. It’s a place where relationships are forged between unlikely pairs all with the common tie that is found in the love of God through Jesus Christ. Grant and I would tease each other and sometimes even argue about the choices the other was making, but deep down, we had a wonderful friendship. And it was all because of camp.
Several years ago, Grant was in a terrible car wreck and was paralyzed from the neck down. He passed away last week. As I sat in the sanctuary at the funeral home, I was reminiscing on all of those shared church camp experiences from 20+ years ago (gasp)! As I recalled stories of our past, I thought about a few others from camp and wished they could be there. Then I looked up, and four of them WERE there. My dear church camp friend, Marc was there and our paths have crossed here and there over the last many years, but there was Jenny and Jamie and Angie, too. I hadn’t seen them in over 20 years. The five of us sat together, passing tissues to one another as Grant’s father, Rev. David Story officiated his son’s funeral. It was beautiful. It was awful.
Marc leaned over to us as we gazed at the casket and said, “It just seems fitting that this is the week of CYF Conference (the name of our high school camp). It’s like Grant knew to bring us all together again during this week.”
I spent the rest of that week in deep prayer for the high school students experiencing their version of CYF Conference. I prayed for the Spirit to move among them. I prayed for their relationships. I prayed that all of the youth present would feel true acceptance and love. I prayed that none of them would have to sit in a funeral home 20 years later and call that a camp reunion.
My oldest daughter will be going to her first week long camp next week and I’l be a counselor. I told Marc and the others gathered last week that camp isn’t mine any more that I share with her. Disciples Crossing has become HER camp…and she so generously shares it now with me.