Saturday, February 26, 2011

A Tale of Horses and Government Cheese: The Camp Joy Experience

When I was 12 years old, my Sunday School class at church presented us with the idea of going to Summer Church Camp.  I'd never been to camp and was cautiously excited about the opportunity, but all my friends were going.  I was a naive child.  I am positive it was the first time that I'd been away from home for a week, other than to go spend the week with my aunt and uncle while my brother was playing baseball. 
I had no idea what to expect.  We had been to visit my grandmother, who so politely would always give us a whole block of government cheese.  I began pondering what I would do about having to go to the bathroom.  I knew if you went poop at school that everybody would make fun of you.  I began to scheme.  The day before we were set to leave for camp, I consumed a whole block of government cheese.  I figured I was set for the week, and would be safe from any such mockery as would be dished out by other constipated 12 year olds.
Camp Joy proved to be little more than a Gestapo Camp with an emphasis on Jesus.  When it came time to eat you had to sing for your food.  When it was time to swim you would have your butt in the pool.  When it was time to ride horses, then by God, you would be on horseback.  We arrived on Sunday afternoon and the first full day I was there I fell down the big hill going up to the cabins.   I skinned my knee and had to go see the nurse (take note because this becomes a recurring theme). 
On the second day, during a mandatory participation softball game, I rounded third headed for home and got into a nest of yellow jackets.  I was stung repeatedly and had to go see the nurse.  However, it was the third day of Camp Joy that changed my life forever.  It came time for horseback riding.  I had very little experience with horses but had ridden them the two previous days and was getting fairly content with the idea.  While they were still saddling us all up, my horse turned to the right and started biting the horse next to me on the ear.  I thought nothing of it.  Once we started up the trail, my horse reared up and tried to jump on the other horse.  I've already told you that I was naive as a child.  I didn't know what was going on, I thought they were fighting!  Good thing I was on the male horse because the other kid had it way worse than I did.  It was my first sexual experience.  So they got the two horses separated, the other kid is banged up pretty bad from having a horse come down on top of him and I'm over there crying worse than he was.   The end result was they sent us both to the nurse, him for his injuries.  I was sent so they wouldn't have to hear me bawling.
By this time, I had developed a good relationship with the nurse.  I was unaware that it would reach a far greater level.  They woke us up at 5am and made us sing for some Froot Loops.  After I was done eating on Thursday morning, I decided to lay my head down on the table.  I was awakened by a gentle hand on my shoulder.  Looking up, I saw it was my friend the nurse.  I will never forget the words that came out her mouth.  "Have you had a bowel movement this week?"  Here again, being the naive kid that I was, I said, "No."  I had made preparations for such and was proud of the fact that my grandmother lived in government housing was able to supply us with a big block of government cheese for such an occasion.  She told me to come see her.  I'm still a dumb kid at this point so I go.  She gives a dose of Milk of Magnesia and tellls that if I don't go poop to come back and see her after supper.  
So here I am still being a stupid kid, I go back to see her.  She tells me to take my pants off and lay on my side on the table with my back facing her.   I really didn't know what went on there until later years.  She had given me a suppository.  I was given instructions to let my counselor (we called him Coach) know that I'd been given some medicine and no matter what to let me go to the bathroom.  During the middle of a chapel service about an hour later, I felt it.  I jumped up and hollered "COACH!"  He jumped up and said "Go Man Go"  Speed records were set that day I'm sure.
Anyway, the suppository did it's job and all my preparations had gone to waste.  I got picked on for having to take a poop the rest of the evening and the next day.  I wound up getting baptized again because I lost a bet.  There were really no good memories to take away.
There are two lessons that I did learn that week.  Stay away from horses.  Nothing will stop you up like government cheese.


  1. Not wanting to laugh at your pain, really..they are tears of sympathy :D

  2. Wow! You brought back a lot of memories. Christie and I used to call it Camp Communist - Where boys and girls begin to suffer. That place was crazy and I remember there were several incidences with horses. I don't remember singing for food but I'm sure we did. I just remember it felt like boot camp.

  3. Where boys and girls begin to suffer. That describes it better than anything I've ever heard. I don't know of anyone who ever went that claims to have had fun. I also remember the water in the swimming pool was white like milk. We had buddy checks every 5 minutes because the life guard couldn't see if anybody was under the water because it was so milky.