Well, it's that time of year again! Church camp. The youth camp has already been with glowing reports on facebook from some of those who were there. This week sees the first adult week (the second week being in August after the English schools have broken up for the summer) taking place at Gartmore House, near Aberfoyle. It's worth taking a minute to think of what takes place, why and firstly, where. When I first started coming along to Struther's Church back in the early 80's, we had camps at Wiston Lodge, near Biggar (I know some of the readers here go back before that, but, I'm just a 'new boy'!). The hall probably sat 120 at a push, it's hard to say. Camp lasted two weeks and a lot of people actually slept under canvas or in hired caravans. The facilities were 'basic' to say the least and the water frequently stopped in hot weather, or simply through the high demand of all these people wanting to wash and drink tea! In the picture above, the meeting hall (games hall) is on the extreme left in white. What the picture doesn't show is the sloping campsite and the huge fanged midges we had to put up with. It all came to a head for me one camp when I remember being in the middle of the field (campsite) smeared in insect repellent, which I couldn't wash off because the water had gone off, just having been to the toilets that wouldn't flush and just thinking "I hate this place!", strangely enough, it was within twenty-four hours that Mary Black (our late minister) said that "the cloud had moved on" (reference to Moses and the children of Israel in the wilderness, who knew it was time to move camp when the pillar of cloud moved forward). The much-in-need-of-a-wash congregation were divided in their opinions as to whether this was a good thing or not - my response was "Hallelujah! Let's go somewhere else!"
However, Wiston was a place of many happy memories for many of us who found God there in depth. I received my baptism in the Holy Spirit there, which changed my life. Many found miracles of healing or deliverance from demon power there. I witnessed a few of these and thrilled at the moving of the power of God. Lives changed forever.
There are many funny stories too. One of my favourites is about in the last few years there when we had the marquees (large tents) for our meetings. The marquee sat at the bottom of the camping field and a cable to supply power for the lighting, sound, keyboard, etc., ran through the trees, across the path and into the chalets. The meeting was in full swing with lighting, sound and music when one of the girls in the chalets wanted to dry her hair with her hair dryer. "Gosh!" she thought, "I wonder what that plug is for? Mmm. It probably isn't anything important." and she unplugged it. You've guessed! The power to the tent was being run off a single 13 amp socket. While she began to dry her hair the whole meeting was plunged into darkness. No music, no sound, etc. While she hummed away to herself Andrew Collins was racing down to the chalet as quick as his two legs would carry him to find out what had gone wrong! Luckily, power was restored, although it probably took that young lady a little longer to dry her hair than she imagined!
We've been to Biggar High School and Craigie College in Ayr. Now, we have a lovely venue in Gartmore House. We have running water, showers that stay hot and a lovely big hall. Numbers have increased probably to 400+ at some meetings and it's all very comfortable - except I think for those in tents, the last few days: the rain has come down as only it can in Scotland. I hope they all stayed dry! I've managed up on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. I'm planning on going tonight too, so I'd better go and get ready. More about the camps in the next posting. 'Til then.