Thursday, August 19, 2010

Mommy's Good Old Days - Expanding my Borders

This post is part 11 in a 15 week series sponsored byMommy's Piggy Tales that encourages women to record their youth.


By the time 9th grade rolled around, I was a full-time teenager. Life consisted in my mind only of friends and boys and clothes. I was outgrowing my homesickness that seemed to haunt my earlier childhood and I was ready to embrace every new and exciting experience that came my way.

One of the best things about being a teenager was our church's youth group. It was a large group and very active, so that meant I had more and more freedom to socialize with my friends than my brothers ever had growing up in the country. We had singspirations at least once a month after church (we would visit some one's house and eat and sing and have a short devotional), I went to Six Flags multiple times and even worked up the nerve to try the roller coasters. We had organized activities every month, but the most exciting part of youth group was the yearly trip we took in the summer.

Our church didn't go to one summer Bible camp every year without fail. In fact, I thought it was really cool that we would try different camps all around the country. So while we had a "winter weekend" every year in Wisconsin at Camp Joy, summers meant a new camp to try. I had a really bad camp experience much earlier in my life and I had decided that church camp was not for me. My parents never made me go, even though the prevailing attitude was that if your kid didn't go to Bible camp, there was something spiritually wrong with them or you or both. They understood my homesickness and never pushed the topic.

Well, about 9th grade I began to want to go to camp, and when the summer camp was in Colorado, I couldn't contain my excitement to attend. We left on a bus for something like a 24 hour drive to Denver and stayed at a hotel with a pool and rode the train to the top of Pike's Peak.
I had so much fun on that trip, seeing a new state that my parents had never visited. I felt so grown up! After sight-seeing in Denver for a day or two, we headed to a remote camp in the mountains. The camp was ours for the week. Our youth leaders did all the preaching and activities and fixed all the food. It remains one of my favorite memories of my time in the youth group.

I also managed to convince my parents that we needed a family vacation that didn't involve visiting old relatives. Since I was the only child at home now, my parents felt that we had enough extra money to take a trip. So we headed off to St. Louis for a long weekend. We did a lot of the tourist-y things, like visiting the Arch and taking a ride on a riverboat.
As we were walking downtown one afternoon, I spied a wax museum and begged my parents to take me on the tour. It was the middle of the afternoon and no one else was in the museum. So Dad paid for our tour and we began walking through the dark halls. We would turn a corner into a hallway that was pitch black and then it would open up to a scene (often historical in nature) of wax figures. I remember seeing Abraham Lincoln and marveling at how life-like the figures were. But the further we got into the museum, the more fearful I became, certain some crazed murderer was waiting for us around the next corner. The wax figures which were so intriguing to me in the beginning became like corpses and frightened me more and more as we passed each vignette. Tearfully I begged my parents to abandon the tour and take me out of the house of horrors. They complied (surely rolling their eyes behind my back) and once we were out in the light of day, my fears subsided and I realized how silly I was to be so scared. Silly, but still not brave enough to go back into the wax museum!

So even though I thought of myself as this brave, adventurous teenager, a few wax figurines proved how immature I still was!


Gretchen said...

Donette -- hahaha!! That cracks me up! Thanks for the honest look at yourself. :) Your camp experience sounds fantastic. I've always wanted to go to Colorado.

Ginny Marie said...

I went to Six Flags with my youth group, too...we had so much fun! We never went to summer camp, though. Going to Colorado was very adventurous! Good for you!

Janette@Janette's Sage said...

I see your youth group played a very important role in your life as it did mine...even if we are years and years apart in age.
I am scared of wax figures...probably because of one of the workers who was standing still to fake us out and he jumped out at me!!!
Six Flags was a big deal for us too...and now I live with it right now the street

Janna said...

I have a picture on that boat too! Good job convincing them to take a trip;)

Love, love CO. I can see why that would be a favorite memory.

gianna said...

I went to Camp Joy, too. Only in MN!
Now think of the song Redeemed.
Camp Joy is the spot where we gather, Enjoy the best time of the year. There isn't a spot we would rather be spending our time than right here. Camp Joy! Camp Joy! The greatest for each girl and boy! Our captain is Jesus, In him there is wonderful joy.
I would have been freaked out of the wax figures, too. I would have probably done the EXACT (EXACT) same thing you did!

Miscellaneous From Missy said...

No way! In your CO pic, I had the same green and white striped shirt as your friend. I remember vividly where I bought it. I can picture the store...just not the name. That was one of my favorite shirts.