March 4th……..“DID YOU EVER DO SOMETHING FUN AND SNEAKY DURING A CAMPING EXPERIENCE DURING YOUR DAYS IN THE PACIFIC NORTHWEST?”
“BUSTED BABY BOOGER BUBBLES”!!!! Such was the gross sounding yell made by someone onboard our old church bus full of 5th and 6th Grade boys. We were bouncing along in that old bucket of bolts as we made our way from Battle Ground Baptist Church, in the southwest corner of the state, all the way out to the lovely Washington State coastline and “The Dunes Bible Camp” located near Ocean Park, Washington. As anyone can tell you, boys of this age level are not prone to being young gentlemen at this era of their lives. Matter of fact, when it came to passing gas, burping, picking your nose or giving your buddy a “wedgie”……these 5th and 6th Grade boys were like young bulls set out to pasture, they loved to “kick up their heels” and have fun!!!
“I may be getting older, but I refuse to grow up” is a slogan that I’ve enjoyed living by for most of my years. So, when it came to volunteering as a camp counselor for this Junior Boys Camp at “The Dunes”, I jumped on board the bus that day and was a “big kid” among the young kids. The jibber jabber among buddies, echoing off those metal bus walls, was almost deafening as we rolled down the highway that paralleled the mighty Columbia River. I pulled out my guitar and led some singing on the bus while hawks and seagulls did their own singing as they flew overhead and escorted us all the way to the beach.
Fred and Sadie Cyphers had retired to their quaint little lighthouse-looking home, during the 1940’s, that sat right on top of what they called “Lily Dell Dunes”. With a glorious view of the Pacific Ocean, this godly couple had a vision to see their property eventually given for the purpose of “reaching boys and girls for Christ”. In 1954, Fred turned the property over to the Conservative Baptist movement and, after some next door property was added, the first Bible-centered camps began in 1957.
A very fine young pastor named Russell Watterberg (with his dear wife Myrtle) were originally from the Battle Ground, Washington area. Russ had even graduated from Battle Ground High School in 1945. When “The Dunes” began, Russ was still pastor at the nearby Seaview Baptist Church. As the camp ministry began to grow, Russ and Myrtle moved their young family into a home on the campgrounds in March of 1959 and thus began a ministry of 50 years of service for the Lord there next to the majestic Pacific Ocean.
Our bus rolled in to “The Dunes Bible Camp” that day beneath a sparkling Northwest summer sun. Once registration was complete it was time to line up in the Dining Hall for some welcome snacks and then outdoors to the expansive lawn area for assigning cabins and campers to their leaders. The years have fogged my memory as to the names of each of the boys in my cabin, but the main thing is that we all became big brother/little brother for that coming week. On one of our camp outings, we all boogied down to the shoreline for the ubiquitous sand castle contests between all the cabins. At that time, in the advertising world, the famous soft drink, Pepsi, had a slogan that went, “Pepsi’s Got Your Taste For Life”! Well, when it came to conjuring up sand castle ideas, the boys and I came up with a Christian twist to that promotional slogan and we created a giant, horizontal Pepsi can made of sand that said, “Jesus’ Has Got Your Taste For Life” and we WON 1st Place!!!!
Whoever has the most fun, WINS…..as far as I’m concerned, so I decided to re-create some fun that I had had with my boys in our AWANA kids club back at Battle Ground Baptist Church. At that time, I owned a 35mm Pentax camera and, to provide light for photography, I also owned a BIG professional-grade Honeywell Strobonar flash unit. The flash it emitted was like a lightning strike……..especially in a nighttime setting or a blacked out room. I gathered a bunch of campers around one day and said, “Heyyy guys!!! Ya wanna have some fun”??? “Come with me”!! Into the camp’s large, gang shower room we went. Once all the boys were in there, I told them that when the light goes out, I want you to make the ugliest face you can think of and even add body gestures. Prepped for fun, I had someone shut off the lights. It was so pitch-black, you could not see the person that was a scant one foot away from you. I asked, in the dark, if the boys were ready and they all yelled, “YESSSSS”!!! I took that Strobonar flash unit of mine and pointed it up at the ceiling and “pulled the trigger”. FLASH!!!!! and for one white second the lightning blast of light “took a picture” of hilarious boys in so many grotesque faces and positions. Besides, as the flash disappeared, their nearby buddy’s images were captured for an instant in everyone’s retina as the room faded once again to pitch blackness. The boys LOVED the experience and howled with laughter at what every other buddy looked like for that split second. “You guys ready for another one”? “New face and position, K”? “Yeah, yeah,”! they all shouted. “POOOF” went another flash followed by more howls of laughter!!!!
After a delicious supper and evening worship time in the camp’s chapel that night, we leaders gathered our brood of boys and headed them down through the pines to our boys cabins that rested side by side. Once inside, the kids of my cabin were still commenting on how much fun it was to see the flashing faces in the shower earlier that day. All of a sudden, the idea sprang up among us to “flash” our neighbor cabins during the night. Like midget Marines, we quietly snuck out of our cabin and crept silently up behind another boys’ cabin, just under their only window. Being the stinker that I am, as perpetrator, I held up the Honeywell Strobonar unit to the window pane and “pulled the trigger”. KERFLASH!!! The shock of light was immediately followed by screams of the boys inside that cabin and hollers of “WHAT WAS THAT”???? My boys and I silently giggled amongst ourselves as we moved to the next cabin window with the stealth of “Green Beret” soldiers. Up, quietly went the flash unit and KERPOOF!!! went the lightning flash. Only this time, not only were there screams, but some scared boy inside decided to throw his shoe at the flash and broke the window. YIKES!!!! We didn’t plan on THIS!!! My boys and I melted into the night as we boogied back to our own cabin. The fun was done, and I owed Mr. Watterberg the price of a new window. At times, there is a little stinker that resides within the fun ideas of this Norwegian Farmer’s Son. 😉