Amy exclaimed, seeing Camp Allegheny for the first time
It’s prettier than you said Lori. What’s that building over there? Where’s our cabin? Does my hair look OK? There’s a cute gut standing on the bridge Ooooh! What if he looks at us? We’re going to have a neat time!”
Lori’s Dad chuckled as he drove the car into the tree shaded driveway and said,
“Goodness, that’s a lot of words to come out of a ten-year-old.”
Lori protested mildly,
“Oh Daddy, Amy can’t help that she’s excited. Remember what I said the first time you brought me here? Let’s go to our cabin and get unpacked We can register later. Do your remember where the girl’s cabins are? Dad’s are only allowed there till five o’clock.”
Lori’s mother said with a smile,
“Now who’s talkative? Lori, you get this way every year. I’m very glad Amy came with you. You two should have a lot of fun! You’ve been best friends since kindergarten.”
“We…know… Mom,” moaned Lori. “You aren’t gonna cry now, are you? We’ll only be here for two weeks. You can call Amy’s Mom and Dad. Invite them to church again.”
Amy shook he head up and down in agreement and said,
“Great idea, Lori! Maybe this time, they’ll say yes, if they miss me enough.”
Lori knew it embarrassed Amy when her parents turned down the invitation to church with Lori’s parents. They did go to church. They just didn’t go every week like the Manning’s did. They didn’t want to get involved, they told Lori. Amy told Lori how unhappy it made her.
“That’s it Daddy,” called Lori, recognizing Cabin 5. “Last year I stayed in Cabin 14. That’s a l-o-n-g walk to the dining hall.”
Amy, rubbing her tummy asked,
“I’m hungry already. What time do we eat supper?”
“Oh Amy, you’re always ready to eat.” Lori teased her slightly chubby friend. “We eat at 5:30, over an hour from now.”
They pulled up to the cabin, Lori already had her car door open.
“Come on Amy, we’ll come back for stuff after we get our bunks,” Lori said excitedly.
“Go on, you two,” Mrs. Manning said “We can see how anxious you are. We’ll bring in your suitcases and bedding. “
Lori and Amy were already inside the cabin before Jordan Manning stopped speaking.
A tall, slender, blonde woman in her early twenties, picked up a clipboard and pen as she said,
“Welcome to Cabin Five. I’m Ann, the counselor in this cabin. Let me see if I can guess your names.
Amy quickly volunteered,
“This is Lori and I’m…”
“Amy,” Ann finished for her. “Welcome. I knew you two would be arriving together. It’s nice to have you both here. Lori, you’re the only girl in the cabin who’s been at camp before. You will be a big help to me.”
“Where should I out your suitcase, Lori”, Jim Manning asked?
“Just sit it down for now, Daddy. I want you and Mom to meet Ann, our counselor.” Lori’s eyes twinkled as she spoke.
Amy looked away. She opened her suitcase and pretended rearranging things. The door opened and a few more girls and their parents came in.
As Ann greeted them, Lori quickly took the opportunity to say. I’m gonna fave this top bunk by the window. “
“Amy, do you want the bottom one, or the top one over here. You might want a top one, too. Do you?”
“You mean, you two good friends haven’t talked that one over yet,” An asked wit a teasing grin?
“Yeah, we’ve talked about it. But we thought we’d await till we got here to decide for sure. Whaddaya say, Amy,” Lori asked?
“Okay, I’ll take the bed under you. You aren’t gonna fall on me, are you,” Amy asked?
Lori looked at her friend a bit longer than usual. Amy’s voice tone made Lori wonder if she had a troubled spirit. Ann noticed their exchange, walked over to them and said,
“These beds are absolutely strong enough for ten-year-old girls. Last week some extra heavy elephants came in to test them. They passed with flying colors!
The girls giggled, Ann would be a fun counselor.
Jordan Manning said to Ann,
“You’ll get used to these two. They love to giggle and kid around. They’ve known each other a long time.
“All… our… lives,” Amy and Lori said in unison, with huge grins! They burst into laughter and hugged.
“We can go home now, dear, ” Jordan Manning said to her husband. “I’m sure Ann can handle these two giggle boxes. What do you think?
“I’m sure of it myself,” Jim Manning agreed. “Hope they let you get some sleep, Ann.”
Lori raised her eyebrows and shrugged. She followed hr parents out the door. They hugged and kissed at the car. Soon the Manning’s car disappeared around the curve in the road. Lori ran back to the cabin.
“Whoa! Look at all this stuff,” Lori said, shaking her head. The others had arrived. Their luggage, bedding, and clothes littered the cabin everywhere.
“Listen up, Girls. I’m glad you’re all here. We have a few minutes before the supper bell rings to talk about our cabin duties. We all need to pitch in and do our part to keep the cabin neat.“
“Lori Manning is going to help me. She’s been to Camp Allegheney before, so she’s familiar with the cabin routine inspection. I’ll post a list this evening so each of you knows what to do, The time for cleaning is after breakfast each morning.
‘ll be in a meeting, so Lori will be in charge for me. Anything yo need help with, ask Lori. Any questions?
No one had any questions.
Some grumbling and moaning could be heard.
Lori said brightly,
“It isn’t as bad as all that. You guts have to keep your rooms straight at home, don’t you? I do, that’s for sure.
“Yeah,” agreed Amy. “Every Saturday morning, Mom makes me stay in my room till my clothes and stuff are all picked up.”
Lori saw general nodding, heard “I guess” and “Mm hmm.”
“Time to get hands washed for supper,” Ann said. “Don’t forget your flashlight. It’ll be dark on our way back after Vespers.”
“Vespers,” Lori thought to herself. She had goose bumps thinking about it. She remembered the Temple of the Tall Trees, the singing, the firelight, the intense closeness she felt to Jesus Christ and her friend campers.
They came to Camp Allegheney to worship Him, as well as to have fun. His presence was everywhere, but especially here. The tall tress provided majesty to the rugged setting in the Allegheney Mountains of western Pennsylvania.
“Let’s go eat!
Those words broke Lori’s thoughts.
She responded with a resounding, “You bet!” Before long, they lined up at the Dining Hall.
“Mmmm, ” Lori sighed, swallowing her last bite of corn-on-the cob. “There’s nothing better for Sunday night supper than roastin’ ears.”
“I like t’matas too,” agreed Amy, “T’mata samiches ‘r better than anythin’.”
“From comments I hear, we have a camp full of contented tummies” said Pastor Don, the camp song leader. As he saw nods and heard sounds of agreement.
“Ah, there’s nothing like a camp full of Christian young people that makes me feel like singing praises to our Lord,” Pastor Don began began to sing. The campers joined him.
“Praise to the Lord, Hallelujah, Praise to the Lord, they sang The praise sons ended with…
“Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning till the break of day. Sing Hosanna to the King!”
Led by Pastor Don, the campers left the dining hall. They began the short walk along a well worn path to the Temple of the Tall Trees.
Temple of the Tall Trees
Lori remained silent as they trudged along. As the campers entered the opening in the woods ringed by tall cedar and pine trees all chatting stopped. A clear sky added to the calm as a light breeze played through the upper branches of the trees. Dove’s softly cooing made the only other sound.
Campers sat quietly on the wooden benches with bowed heads. The Lord seemed to be here among the majestic trees he created.
“The Lord is in His Holy temple. Let all the Earth keep silence before Him.”
Pastor David started the Vesper service with those words. He continued on to say,
“Be still and know that I am God. It is He that made us and not we ourselves. I go to prepare a place for you. And, if I go, I will return again and receive you to myself; that, where I am, you may be also.”
“Look around you. Know that the Lord is here in all of this beauty. He wants you to open your heart to accept His love for you. God sent His only Son to die for our sins, so we might live eternally. Open your heart to receive and obey Jess Christ now!”
Spirit of the living God,
Fall fresh on me.“
Lori stood up and moved toward the front to make a public confession that she wanted to invite Jesus into her heart. An only child, and often alone, she felt no more alone now. She felt Christ’s mighty loving presence as she stood there.
“Mountain top experience,” an expression Lori’d heard often and thought she knew what it meant. Until now, she hadn’t felt the God-filled presence of the Holy Spirit as it entered her life. Here she stood, on top of one of the highest mountains i the Appalachian chain. She felt an even higher presence , yet one that reached deep within her soul.
As she went back to her seat beside Amy, several of the other girls stopped and hugged her with understanding. Adults smiled warmly. What a wonderful feeling of acceptance and love! She never experienced such warmth and affection from anyone except her family.
Lori’s thoughts raced, yet calm filled her heart. “This must be what’s called ‘Christian Love,” she thought. “The love of Jesus Christ, staying always in your heart.”
Tears of joy streamed down her cheeks. She’d gone to church her whole life, yet never had an experience like this before.
Amy looked at her quizzically, “Well, what was that all about? Amy sounded sarcastic. “Seemed like a bid for attention to me. Don’t you get enough? You’re the only child, have a good voice, pretty, and smart too.”
Amy didn’t understand. Lori wondered if she would any time soon. She’d pray for Amy, that she would love the Lord and accept Him into her heart.
As the girls entered the cabin, each one hugged Lori.
“We’re all so happy you accepted Jesus as your Savior” said Ann. “Camp Allegheney will always be very special to you now”
Lori nodded. Her thoughts strayed to someone else. Amy seemed withdrawn and her silence concerned Lori. While the other girls talked and giggled as they prepared for bed, Amy stayed to herself.
Each one got into bed with her Bible. Ann led devotions and everyone said a sentence prayer. Lights out came a few minutes later.
Emotion filled the entire evening. In the dark, the girls talked softly. Amy’s silence bothered Lori. She finally said to Amy, “Is anything wrong, Amy?
Amy asked, “Lori, you always seem to have the best of everything. Your mom and dad take you places, You’re pretty, you sing well, and you have all the friends here, too. I get a little jealous. How can I have what you have?
Lori answered her friend, “If you mean what happened to me at Vespers this evening, there’s no reason why you can’t have it, too.
Ann soon gathered the girls around Amy.
“Father, we have a spirit of jealousy between these two good friends. Help to know you care for them both. Heal the hurt that Amy feels in her heart. Let her know your love and forgiveness. Let her have the knowledge that you died for her as well as for all of us. We pray she will accept your love and realize she’s your child. Thank you, Father. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
The girls crowded around Amy. They hugged her and let her know they loved her, too.
“I’ve never felt such love from so many people all at once,” said Amy. “Is this the way Jesus loves us?”
“Yes, Amy,” said Ann. “and so much more. Our Lord has love enough for all of us. God sent His only son to live among us and die for all our sins. When we accept His grace, we might have eternal life”
“I want Him to come into my heart, too,” Amy said.
Lori’s eyes filled with tears of joy for her best friend. Now they would be together in the Lord’s love. Their friendship became even more special through Jesus.
“The Lord moves in marvelous ways. His wonders to perform,” breathed Ann. “Thank you, Jesus. Praise the Lord!”