After Being Restored at Camp

by Rob Gurganus

Rob serves as a member on the Indian Creek Youth Camp Board of Trustees and directs our Preteen Week each summer.  Rob also works as a teacher in Cordova, AL and serves with the Dovertown Church of Christ as a preacher.

Perhaps you’ve seen this: a young Christian responds at a camp devotional and is restored. He/She confesses that they haven’t been the faithful Christian they should have been. They’ve said and done (or left unsaid/undone) things that they are ashamed of and want to apologize to anyone they’ve offended through their words or actions. After the service, a receiving line forms with hugs, well wishes, praise, and all sorts of good advice. The rest of the week they become the example of Christianity.

But then, after camp, they wane off of church attendance a little (regardless of whatever awesome and introspective theme was emphasized their week). Cursing creeps back into their vocabulary. TV shows and friends on social media re-contaminate their thoughts. Attendance decreases to every other service, to once a month, and then to not attending at all. Encouraging words from other brothers and sisters are met with “I know’s” and “Yeah, I need to’s”. Sometimes (depending on the person encouraging), nippy little comebacks shoot out of their mouth. If an older person tries to restore them, it is met with forced respect (sometimes) and later ignored. If a Christian youth who was not in their “in crowd” at camp says something, they become downright rude.

Pretty soon, they ignore the people from camp. If they see them in public, they re-route their paths. Answering services replace phone conversations. Now, the cycle has made its way to the place it started before camp: lost.

Next year, at the next emotional devotional preached (sadly, often by the best looking, most charismatic speaker), they will respond again, if the Lord allows the cycle to continue. At least that’s what has happened the last four years or so. They will call it their “recharge” because it’s the only thing that can recharge them. Gospel meetings can’t do it because the preacher is too old, conservative, or (just fill in the blank). The regular preacher can’t recharge them because he’s too boring. The local congregation can’t do it because they just don’t understand.

If that person is you, then you are lost again. You returned to the fold, but left it again. I must ask this question: if the Lord is to come on one of the 365 (or 6) days of the year, why risk being ready for only about 30 of those days? What we need you to do is this: get your life right again. Go to the next service, go forward (or write a letter and ask it to be read) and re-rededicate your life. THEN when camp comes, do this: YOU be the one who restores people who used to be in the cycle you just got out of! They need you. You’ve been where they are. You DO understand.

Our Verse for the Day:  Galatians 6:1

Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

[Personal note – I wrote this 6/26/16, Sunday morning before church on a diving board! Our furniture was packed up because we were moving, so I pulled a patio chair up to the diving board with a cup of coffee and let these thoughts fly! – Rob Gurganus]

Children and Arrows

I am blessed to be surrounded by so many who are diligently striving to live lives that reflect Christ in every way.  Scott McCown is one of those people.  Scott and Amy work with the Central congregation in Tuscaloosa.  They are great examples, great servants, and great friends.

Scott publishes a daily blog called The Morning Drive.  I encourage you to check it out sometime.  I wanted to share his latest blog with you today.  This one is a great reminder for parents, but also applies to all our adult volunteers during camp.  We’re being watched!  How’s our aim?

Children & Arrows  by Scott McCown

No, not children with sharp arrows, that is a trip to the ER waiting to happen . . .

“Behold children are a heritage from the Lord,

The fruit of the womb a reward.
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior
are the children of one’s youth.
Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”
Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV)

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior.” What a great statement! A well-skilled archer has effective aim. A number of years ago I learned there are four basic rules of archery:

  1. The Direction I point the arrow is important,
  2. The Strength of the pull has effect,
  3. Properly Timing the Release is valuable, and
  4. Accuracy in Aiming is vital.

Apply these to raising children and you understand more about what the Psalmist has in mind.

  1. What Direction am I pointing my children in?
  2. What Influence (Pull) am I giving them with my lifestyle?
  3. Do I let go (Release) them into situations (or expose them to certain things of the world) before they are ready? Or am I hanging on too long?
  4. What are my goals (where am I Aiming) for me and my children?

Paul tells fathers (and mothers by default), ” . . . do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.” (Eph 6:4)

Here are a list of Parental Rules to Model and to Teach so we can be skilled archers.

  1. Put purity above pleasure.
  2. Place others before yourself.
  3. Be more industrious and less lazy.
  4. As an adult be more mature and less childish.
  5. Demonstrate service over power.
  6. Be Christ-like.

– Scott

Why we do what we do.

I recently asked our trustees and directors a question, “Why do we do what we do at ICYC?”. I received several great responses!  Today I’ll share the longest one!! Thanks, Clark Sims! 😉 

Why Do We Do What We Do at ICYC?

Why Do We Do What We Do at ICYC?  That is a hard question and an easy one at the same time. For me, camp week begins in a calendar year. It starts with work every now and then grows into a committed obsession as time moves forward. It reaches a point that camp preparation becomes basically a daily activity. Will we be ready? Will I be ready? Typically, I’ll make that drive onto Pleasantfield Road with some questions still needing to be answered. Sunday is hard! Getting people in, getting people placed, being sure staff is on site and working, communicating with parents, answering questions are all things that you just have to deal with on Sunday. I just have not figured out a way for Sunday to be easy. But, there does come a time. I’m not exactly sure what time that is. It might be that first time I stand behind a podium looking into the faces of my “camp family!” It might be when my great staff lets me know their cabin list and mine match and their cabin is ready to go! It might be when Dupree and his bunch provide that first camp week supper. It might be, and this really might be it, when I walk (or ride) the grounds that Sunday night when everyone has been sent to the cabins, lights are turning off. We are “home” and ready for a special week.

Why Do We Do What We Do at ICYC? That is a hard question and an easy one at the same time.

I love breakfast. I love getting the day started. I love hugs and kind words. I love “Pink Monkeys.” I love “campers being campers at camp in the spirit of Christian camping.” I love being with my Cottondale family at camp. I love being with my physical family at camp. I love being with my camp family at camp. I love being with a fantastic staff who I treasure. I love that I see my camp family throughout the year and our minds are right there at ICYC! I love the fact that hellos are so good. I love the fact that good-bye is so touch (because that just shows how special it really is). I love that I have experienced campers grow into counselors. I love that my bride supports me when I’m “tough to live with” leading up to camp week. I love that my bride sweats, smiles, works, serves right through Friday when a “precious worn out woman” drives home. I love that I share this with my children. I love that my children have memories of the past and optimism for the future at ICYC. I love that I share this with every one of my sisters-in-law. I love that I share this with my nephew and nieces. I love that I have another nephew just ready to get started. I love our counselors. I love our cooks. I love our teachers. I love our craft ladies. I love our nurse. By the way, word to the wise, make these people happy! They give and give and give. I love those who have been with us for years! I love those we get to meet for the first time. I love sports and cabin competition and cabin inspection and team building. I love activities during the day. I love activities under the stars. I love canteen. I love the fact that I have a key to the canteen. I love the Bible. I love Bible Bowl and Bible Class. I love spiritual. I love spiritual growth. I love spiritual focus. I love knowledge. I love emotion. I love change. I love tears. I love commitment. I love phone numbers and addresses and emails. I love pictures. I love going to that pool to experience a wonderful new birth. I love singing. Oh, how I love the singing. I love that parents bring children. I love that men and women use a vacation week for this!  I love the fact the we leave the camp ground worn out but already thinking about “next year.” I love watching them grow up. I love that they love me and I love them. I love that we look forward to coming back. I love how much they all mean to me. I love that I share this with my best friend. I love that he is my partner. I love that I speak with Bruno day after day after day getting ready. I love how hard he works. I love that he really does not like walking “up that hill” and he likes to ride in golf carts and eat an occasional late night snack, just like me! I would wish that everyone could experience a week like this with your best friend. I love Thursday night. I love that I laugh and I cry. I love taking pictures. I love it when they want to come back. I love my week and I love Indian Creek.

Why Do I Do What I Do at ICYC? Well, I’ll assure you it’s not about the heat or the sweat or the air conditioning not working and toilets stopped up. It’s not about the hills or the distance from the director’s hut to the ball field. It’s not because there are 2 cabins called Golden Pine and 2 cabins called Chestnut. I put up with that stuff. I put up with that stuff because there is no week like it. My year points to that week. My life is better because of it.

I am thankful to God that this place, these people and this amazing opportunity are a part of my life. By the way, I love that I sit at my computer emotional writing this because it means so much to me!

In the spirit of Christian camping,

Clark

Clark Sims preaches for the Cottondale congregation and serves as an elder there.  Clark is also director of Week 7 at ICYC.  He and his family are very dedicated both to the camp and to the Kingdom.

Mamas for Mattresses

“Mamas for Mattresses”
Hello Friends of Indian Creek Youth Camp!
“Mamas for Mattresses!” It has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? I am writing you today on behalf of a number of mothers in the Tuscaloosa, Alabama area who love Indian Creek Youth Camp and thought of a great fundraiser to benefit the camp. As a board member and week director, I realize how important it is for our campers, and staff, to get a good night of rest to get the very best out of the camp experience. I am happy to be working with these ladies on this project.
We completed a wonderful 2014 camp season. Our goal is to have 225 new mattresses placed in the cabins and staff quarters as the 2015 camp season draws near. Certainly, we realize those receiving this letter have varied capabilities. Some of you might be able to fund a number of mattresses for us. Some might be able to get us one mattress. By the way, who knows what that one mattress might mean to that one child who attends ICYC? We want to thank you, all of you, for considering contributing to this project. If you are receiving this letter, on some level, you have already indicated your love for ICYC. You know what a week at this special place can mean. Thank you for any consideration you might give to helping us out. Our good friend, Andy Williams, who is a member at the Northport congregation, is “in the business” and is working with us to provide a quality mattress at a reasonable price. We look forward to getting these mattresses delivered and placed as the funds become available.
Each mattress can be provided at a cost of $100. As you know, your contributions are tax deductible. We ask checks to be made to, “Indian Creek Youth Camp” and tagged “Mamas for Mattresses.” We also ask you to identify on the memo line the number of mattresses you are providing. Checks can be sent to: ICYC, Mamas for Mattresses, 7855 Pleasantfield Road, Oakman, Alabama 35579.
We are asking congregations who receive this letter to please make it available to individual members who support, serve and love Indian Creek Youth Camp and Christian Camping!
Great things are happening at ICYC! We thank you for your interest, support and prayers. We ask you to “help us out” with this project. Thank you “Mamas” for your love for the camp and your love for our children. I am thankful to work with you on this project. God bless ICYC!
In the Spirit of Christian Camping,
Clark Sims
Your Questions Can be Addressed to: Tracie Sims (205-310-3359) Christy Pate (205-391-7535) Clark Sims (205-310-3286)
Cottondale church of Christ
2025 Prude Mill Road, Cottondale, Alabama 35453
205-553-1444
http://www.cottondalechurchofchrist.com and office@cottondalecoc.comcastbiz.net

Thoughts from one of our campers!

A Different Kind of Modety

By: Leah Brasher
23/10/2014

When you saw the title for this article, you probably didn’t expect to read this. You most likely saw the word “modesty” and thought this article would be about short skirts and tight dresses. Well, that article will be posted sometime in the future, but as for now, this is about a different type of modesty. Humility, actually. Have you ever heard the expression, “He’s just being modest”? In this sense, the word modest means humble. Humility is literally defined as, “Having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.” This doesn’t mean not to value yourself. Don’t think I’m saying that at all! I’m telling you that your self importance should not be as high as how you value the ones around you. To explain this better, I’m going to compare it to something every girl knows: Beauty and the Beast. In the classic tale of Beauty and the Beast, there are a lot of characters, but for my point, I’ll focus on three. Do you remember how the Beast was turned into the monster he became? If you don’t, here’s how. An old woman, who was actually a witch, came to his door and begged him to give her shelter. He denied her and she cursed him. Now, obviously we don’t have witches running around begging for help. That just doesn’t happen. But, we do have people who need help and may ask. The Beast was a prince before and he was too spoiled and prideful to help the woman. She was disguised as a beggar and when he saw that she wasn’t beautiful, he refused her. He couldn’t look past her appearance, he was too shallow and arrogant to notice who she was. He was then punished by being turned into a monster. Alright, so the Beast was arrogant. Let’s look at another character. Who remembers Gaston? He was the man who wanted to marry Belle from the beginning. But, she didn’t love him. Do you know why? Because he was too prideful. She didn’t want to love someone that was so arrogant. Gaston constantly talked about how amazing he was and how everyone loved him. He also sang a song in the movie. The song was named, believe it or not, “Gaston.” The lyrics are incredibly funny, being a Disney movie, but my point is that Gaston is incredibly arrogant. And because of that, he lost the girl he wanted. One last character and we will move on. Belle. Now, the last two characters were both shallow, arrogant and prideful. But, Belle is much the opposite. She’s modest, humble and meek. She takes her father’s place as prisoner of the Beast. She is very kind to the Beast even though he has done nothing but been awful to her. And, she looks past the fur, claws, and fangs. She sees a kind heart and she does all that she can to bring that out. Do you know what happens in the end? Belle falls in love with the Beast and he falls in love with her. The Beast’s curse is lifted and he is changed back into the prince he was. Belle’s humility and selflessness makes the Beast change into a more modest person, which ends up helping them both. Okay, so the story of Beauty and the Beast isn’t real, but the moral is! Be humble and modest, and you will be rewarded. Let’s look at God’s word and I’ll prove it to you. Philippians 2:3 says, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.” This says that other people should be more important to us than ourselves. Romans 12:16 says, “Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.” I really love how this is worded. It’s telling us that we do not need to care how people are socially ranked. Basically, we shouldn’t be more willing to talk to the girl who just bought new, expensive shoes, than to the girl who’s parents are struggling to even keep their home. That’s where being shallow comes in. We need to love everyone equally, as we are supposed to. Proverbs 11:2 tells us this, “When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Do you know what God is telling us? If we are prideful, we are a disgrace! If we are humble, then we are wise. God thinks it is wise of us to be humble. Don’t you want our God to think that you are wise on Judgement Day? I do. So, girls, let me give you some advice. When you see that girl that isn’t exactly “cool” or that boy that doesn’t have many friends? Please, go talk to them. Invite them into your group of friends. Make them feel loved. Show them the kindness that God has asked us to show everyone. Be the meek one and throw out the stereotypes and social rankings. Be humble and love those people more than you love yourself. Be modest and don’t worry about what people will think if they see you with that person. Take Disney’s advice. Don’t be a Beast, Be a Belle.

Leah Brasher is the daughter of Glenn & Kim Brasher of Quintown. Leah is ICYC through and through! She is a faithful member of the Quintown congregation, a wonderful friend, a great example, and beautiful young Christian lady. Thanks Leah for sharing your thoughts.

A little about where we came from.

My name is Rob Gurganus, and I have been on the board since the 1990’s. There’s been a member of the Gurganus family on the board since the camp’s inception in late 60’s. Why is our family so interested in ICYC? Well, of course, the spiritual blessings and opportunities are enormous, but another reason is because the campground is an old Gurganus homestead. I would like to tell you some of the history of the place before ICYC was ever conceived – from a family member’s viewpoint.

A story is often told by preachers about a Civil War soldier’s wife who converted to Christianity while he was away in the war. Upon his return, she converted him. From this conversion came a string of converts including Charlie Wheeler, a gospel preacher who baptized thousands, including Gus Nichols, who baptized thousands, and his sons, whom, also have baptized thousands. And, so, the good from that one Southern Belle over a century ago keeps going.

But, could we trace the conversion route that ultimately lead to those at Indian Creek Youth Camp (myself included)? I don’t know. But I remember who did know. And here is what I can share:

The first Gurganus to settle in this area was John Wesley Gurganus back in the early 1800’s. He was a Methodist circuit riding preacher. That means that he was sent by the Methodist Church to establish congregations in this area. I was told of two places that was his homestead: one is way off in the woods in the ICYC area, and the other was in the spot on the road to your right as the Old Tuscaloosa Road ends at Hwy. 69. All of the Gurganuses in Walker County descended from him.

The oldest family member I knew was “Uncle” Fletcher Gurganus. He lived just up the road from ICYC (towards 69) on the right. On some camp weeks, all the campers would hike to his house. We spread out blankets, set up a table in his huge yard and had picnics. I remember two things about these trips: 1. The sweat bees were worse in his yard than anywhere else on the planet, and 2. Fletcher would come out and entertain us from his front porch (which made a perfect stage while we sat on the blankets). He was a very small old man and he’d sing and tell jokes. As a kid, I loved him. He looked to me what Grandpa Jones from Hee Haw tried to look like. He was an interesting old man. Dad and I visited him one day, and he let me play on his old pump organ. Dad asked him when the Gurganuses converted over from the Methodist church, and he gave the name of the preacher who was responsible, and the family members who did it. He had to go somewhere when we left, and he locked his front door with a skeleton key. That was the last time I ever saw Uncle Fletcher. He died at the age of 99. I’ve asked Dad who Uncle Fletcher said the converting preacher was, but Dad doesn’t remember. I didn’t know the name then, so I certainly don’t remember it now. The time frame would have been the early to mid-1800’s, going from the fact that my great grandfather was raised in the church, and he was born in 1856. But who this preacher was, where he was from and lived – is all gone now.

All of the Gurganuses did not convert, and I understand that some are still Methodist today. But among the line of those who did came Doc and Trannie Gurganus. They lived in the house across the dirt road from Burt’s house (toward Hwy 69, the next house facing the main road past the camp, on the same side as the camp is located). This house was the farm house for what is now Indian Creek Youth Camp. They built this house in 1891, and – get this – according to Uncle Fletcher, it was built out of one single tree! There were huge trees in Alabama in those days, and they went and brought the tree trunk back on a wagon and sawed it up on the spot where the house is now. It did not have the porch nor the side wing – those were added later, but the main house was of one tree. Uncle Doc, I was told, dressed like a lawyer, but Aunt Trannie would never even buy a new hat (not just an accessory in those days, but a necessity). She would “make over” her old ones. The couple was notoriously frugal and very hard working. I was told that Aunt Trannie would get her pick and dig up even the deepest roots of bushes as good as any man could. But, her furniture was something many people of that time only dreamed of: every single piece of furniture in her house was of a matching set (how many of us can say that even now of our modern furniture – I can‘t!)What a price that would bring at an antique auction now – late Victorian furniture for bedroom, dining, and living room all of one set; the camp could be in financial prosperity! (Not too long before she died in her early 90’s, Vema Batchelor, another cousin, told me she remembered all this when she was a little girl).

As far as I know, Doc and Trannie had no children. When Trannie got older, and the farm was too much upkeep for her, the estate somehow became the responsibility of her nephew, Howard Gurganus. It was he who gave the land for Indian Creek Youth Camp (another story). He asked Aunt Trannie if giving the land would be ok with her for him to do, and her reply was that she was hoping the land could “be used for something like that for the Lord’s work”. The land on the creek was purchased from a fishing camp (but I believe it was originally part of the Gurganus estate), and Uncle Fletcher’s will left the camp ten acres of his land on the other side of Indian Creek.

I wish I had written down the name of that preacher. He is my unsung and unknown hero. This preacher is responsible for not only my family members‘ salvation, but also the unknown numbers of lives influenced and souls saved at our dear Indian Creek Youth Camp. I say unknown – God knows, and this preacher has a great reward coming if he stayed faithful to that message he shared with my ancestors nearly two centuries ago. I’ve known this story for nearly three decades now, so I am glad to pass it on to you. May God continue to bless us.

I got this information from interviews with the following people: my dad, L.T. Gurganus, Fletcher Gurganus, Vema Batchelor, Mrs. Ira Johnson, Lois “Ma” Pounds, and Leroy “Buck” Gurganus.

 

Rob preaches for the Dovertown congregation in Cordova, AL.  He and his wife, Emily, are very active supporting Indian Creek Youth Camp and attend camp sessions with their entire family.