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Salkehatchie Summer Service
Huntersville Camp 2003
Notes from the Camp Director

Jerry Kita was born in Welland, Ontario, Canada and has lived in Huntersville, NC since July 1997 with his wife Mona and their three children, Ben, Nathan and Natalia. The Kita family are members of Huntersville United Methodist Church. In 2000 Jerry and Mona led a group of eight youth to a Salkehatchie Summer Service Camp in Camden, South Carolina. Huntersville United Methodist Youth have continued to attend the Camden camp. This exposure to Salkehatchie convinced Jerry and Mona to start a camp in Huntersville.

Go directly to:
March 21, 2004
April 18, 2004
May 29, 2004
June 19, 2004 - Pre Camp Adults Meeting
July 4, 2004
July 17, 2004 - First day of camp
July 18, 2004
July 19, 2004
July 20, 2004
July 21, 2004
July 22, 2004
July 23, 2004
July 24, 2004 - End of camp

February 4, 2004

I guess it's about time to get to work. Although it's only the beginning of February it's time to start thinking about the 2004 Huntersville Camp. We finally put the 2003 camp to bed only about four weeks ago. That's when we finally finished putting the last touches on the Little home. (New Year's resolution -- Let's not be working on our 2004 homes in 2005!).

In some ways, we are behind our pace of last year. By this time last year we already had a team of about eight people working on our 2003 camp. Since it was our first camp we had a lot to learn and we were keen to give ourselves lots of time to to attend to hundred things that would be required of any first time camp. Having that year under our belts gives us a lot of confidence moving forward. That being said, it's about time to get the team together for our first meeting and start the serious planing necessary to run a Salkehatchie camp. That will include making the calls to various local churches and organizations to ensure that meals and showers are provided to the campers as well as donations for materials. In addition, the South Carolina conference has already mailed out the registration forms so I expect we'll begin to get inquiries about our camp.

Unlike last year, there seems to be much more awareness, within North Carolina, for our camp. I received email inquiries from about five churches. Most have come as a result of mailers that have come out of the North Carolina conference office (Thank you, Katie Fralic!). In addition, the North Carolina Conference has a link from its website to this one and that's also generated a lot of traffic and awareness. My hope is that registrations come a little faster this year so I don't spend the immediate weeks leading up to the camp worrying about our attendance.

Anyways, I haven't completely goofed off this year. My wife Mona and I did visit a prospective homeowner a few weeks ago. I hope that will be the first of about ten homes we visit between now and May. Our plan is to do four homes again during this year's camp. However, depending on how registrations go we may consider doing a fifth.

Last year I was just hoping that the camp would be a moderate success. As it was, it went far better than I could have imagined.

Having a year under our belt really does give us a lot of confidence moving forward. Last year I was just hoping that the camp would be a moderate success. As it was, it went far better than I could have imagined. The team we had worked very hard in the months and weeks leading up to the camp and it showed. The camp came off without a hitch.

Here are my hopes for the upcoming camp:

  • Another team of skilled adults to provide their leadership. We were extremely blessed to have four experienced site leaders at last year's camp. A number of adults with Salkehatchie experience in South Carolina came up to help us. It made all the difference in the world. It's a little too much to ask that they help us out again but if they're reading this they should know they are most welcome.
  • More youth from the Western North Carolina conference. We welcome youth and adults from every state and conference. However, in order to grow the Salkehatchie movement in the WNNC we need more participation from the conference churches. The early indications, based on interested emails and phone calls, suggests that we'll have 15-20 youth from the WNNC this year. Last year we had only three out of a total of 22 youth.
  • The same generous support we received from the local community as last year. Last year we had about $5000 worth of supplies, meals and materials donated to the camp. In a camp that started with a budget of approximately $9500 that was huge.

My objective over the next 30 days is to set up at least 3 more home visits and get the team together to begin the planning for this year's camp. We'll see how I do.

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March 21, 2004

We've made some good progress over the last six weeks on a number of fronts

Planning Team Meeting

The planning team had their first at the beginning of March. For the most part our team from last year is still intact. It was a very committed and dedicated group and I am very grateful that they are back. (In addition, it also tells me I can't be that difficult to work with!) The team this year includes:

  • Mona Douglass-Kita who's also an Assistant Director. She will be responsible for some of the in-camp programming
  • Rev Billy Rintz who's also an Assistant Director. Billy will be, as he was last year, the spiritual leader of the camp
  • Rehnea Raines, Christine McMillan and Vicki Rintz will be responsible for turning Huntersville United Methodist Church into a dormitory. This team will also be responsible for meal planning.
  • Patti Stiene is responsible for fund raising
  • Rev Ann Gibert has also accepted our invitation to join the team. Ann is the former Associate Pastor at HUMC. She now is the pastor at a church in South Charlotte and will be able to help us out with the logistics of having teams in that part of the county

I cannot emphasize how important this team is to sucess of the camp. This team puts in a lot of hours leading up to the camp to ensure that everything runs smoothly. It couldn't happen without them.

Prospective Home Visits

Since I last wrote we've visted three homes with a fourth to be scheduled within the next two weeks. I expect that by the time we settle on our four (or five) houses we'll have some good homes to work on.

Registered campers who have a userid and password will be able to look at the homes we've visited by clicking on the link on the Members Home Page.

The last planning meeting prior to this year's camp. Here Mona Kita, Vicki Rintz and Billy Rintz compare notes.

Our biggest challenge will be logistics. For our 2003 camp all four of our homes were within two miles of the church. This was done deliberately. Since this was our first camp we felt we needed to simplify our lives by having the homes close together. It made it easy to keep tabs on the progress of each of the homes. In addition, building supply stores were nearby and we only needed to have a single location for lunch. This year will likely be different. We've already visited two homes in Charlotte with a third to be visited in a few weeks. The planning team will have to consider issues around travel to the site, lunch planning and locating the local building supply stores. These issues aren't insurmountable but they will give this camp a very different look from last year.

Funds and Donations

We're pleased the Youth Service Fund of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church has donated $2000 to our project this year. Neighbours of ours have also donated a stove. I expect our garage to be filling up quickly.

Camper Registrations

As of this writing we have 26 campers registered to attend. I know of three other churches that are planning to send their youth. We're ahead of last year's pace and I expect that we'll have between 40 and 45 campers. I'm most excited by the interest we're getting from Western North Carolina churches. We'll have significantly greater North Carolina participation than last year

One of my other registration worries is ensuring that we have enough skilled help among the adult participants. So far, I've been pleased with the adult team that is forming. We have a number of Salkehatchie veterans coming to our camp like John Ballentine, Richard Hagins, Baker Ratliff and Bill Ratliff. Each of them would make excellent site leaders. I'm grateful that they're coming.

Overall, things seem to be coming together. Over the next 4-6 weeks I hope to complete 3-4 more home visits and begin to connect with the local city building departments. The planning team will begin figure out where the meals are coming from and most importantly figure out how to support our building teams in South Charlotte. We'll keep you posted!

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April 18, 2004

We're making progress! I was at the Salkehatchie Camp Director's Meeting yesterday in Columbia, SC. As of this writing we have 41 campers registered. Although our camp capacity is about 45 we could run the camp with 41. We had 39 campers last year. I'm still receiving calls from churches interested in sending their youth so I suspect that by the time the camp rolls around we'll have about somewhere between 45-50 campers. We'll be rather cozy housed in the church but our planning team will be able to get it done.

I'm also very pleased that most of our campers are from North Carolina. It shows that word of our camp is spreading around the conference. That being said, we'll also see some familiar faces at the camp. There's a number of youth and adults returning from last year's camp. The combination of folks familiar with the program and the newcomers will make for a good mix at the camp. Also returning from last year will be our newlyweds Baker and Jennifer Ratliff. See the sidebar on my 2003 Camp Director Notes. They'll be celebrating their first anniversary with us.

The Ratliffs

We're excited that the whole Ratliff clan is coming. Baker and Jennifer spent their honeymoon with us last year. Baker's dad Bill is joining us this year. We're grateful to have them.

We've also included Love INC as part of our planning team. They are an agency in Charlotte that finds help for homeowners who need repairs done to their homes. They've given us leads on regarding homeowners who need our help. In addition, they will be able to help us with the logistics of supporting work teams in Charlotte.

At this point, it appears that we have three of the four homes we'll be working on. Two of them will be in Charlotte and one is in Huntersville. I would like the fourth to also be in Huntersville. Hopefully, we'll be able to get this taken care of by the end of May.

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May 29, 2004

We've reached some milestones over the last few weeks. First of all, the camp is officially full. As of May 21st we had 50 campers registered. Here's some of the demographics of the camp. We have 17 adults and 33 youth. Last year we had 17 adults and 22 youth. Of the youth registered we have 15 males and 18 females. Of the adults registered we have 11 males and 6 females. I'm also pleased to note that 17 of the youth are from the Western North Carolina Conference. Last year we had only 3 from the WNNC and we worked hard to spread the word around the conference.

We've also picked out the four homes we'll be working on at this year's camp. We visited a total of 7 homes over the last few months. Registered campers can view all the homes that we visited when they sign-on. Of the four we decided to work on two are located in Charlotte and the other two will be in Huntersville.

In order to support the teams in Charlotte we've made arrangements for those teams to have their lunches and showers in Charlotte. There is also a Home Depot within five miles of the homes so the teams will not have far to travel to get supplies.

My somewhat ambitious hope is to chronicle the daily activities of the camp on this website so that parents and friends of the campers can observe on a daily basis what's happening.

My somewhat ambitious hope is to chronicle the daily activities of the camp on this website so that parents and friends of the campers can observe on a daily basis what's happening. One of our youths, Meredith Davis, has kindly agreed to keep a daily diary during the camp. I'm looking forward to that

As of today, there are 50 days left till the beginning of the camp. We still have some details to work out but it looks like we're going to have a good camp. In the next couple of weeks I'll be posting some more information about the homes we'll be working on.

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June 19, 2004

We had our adults meeting today. For those of you unfamiliar with the workings of a Salkehatchie camp, it is customary to have an "adults meeting" about one month prior to the camp. The purpose of the meeting is to form the adult teams and determine which team will work on which home. We do this by touring all the homes and having each team rank the homes by preference.

For me the adults meeting is the beginning of the home stretch leading up to the camp. Although the planning team has done an excellent job getting us ready for the camp I know that most evenings and weekends leading up to the camp will be consumed with planning the final details.

If someone were to ask me how I feel at this point I'd had to say overwhelmed. And I don't mean overwhelmed in a planning sense (because I know we'll be ready), but I do feel overwhelmed by the number of people who have stepped up and asked to help out with the camp in some way.

If someone were to ask me how I feel at this point I'd had to say overwhelmed. And I don't mean overwhelmed in a planning sense (because I know we'll be ready), but I do feel overwhelmed by the number of people who have stepped up and asked to help out with the camp in some way. Here are just a few examples:

  • Keith Eudy and Thomas Brantley have offered to spend a few days at the camp and help us out where they can. Both are experienced Salkehatchie campers
  • Dr. Gina LiCause has offered to see and treat any campers who have an injury during the camp. We hope we don't have to take her up on that but we're glad she's there
  • BFI will be donating dumpsters to all of our sites. Everybody who's been part of a Salkehatchie Camp knows the amount of time and effort required transport trash. The dumpsters are a huge benefit
  • The local Lowe's Home Improvement Warehouse in Huntersville is letting their kitchen cabinet customers know that we will happily take away their old cabinets and give them a tax receipt.
  • HUMC congregation members like Bob Sims, Lynn Brittain and Shannon Stewart have told us they're ready to help out during the week if we need them

There are more examples but you get the idea. Over the next few weeks there will be many things to do. But we'll get them done. It's 28 days before the start of camp. We can't wait.

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July 4, 2004

Mona Kita and Pastor Ann Gibert from St Paul UMC check out the lunch facilities at Dilworth UMC

It's Independence Day and we're now 13 days away from the start of the camp. About the only thing left undone is finding some organization to provide lunch for our campers on Thursday in Charlotte. Other than that, we're done. We have 51 campers registered but a few might drop out here and there. No matter what, we'll start the camp with at least 47 campers and with four homes to do that's not a bad number.

Mona and I spent Friday touring the various facilities we'll be using in Charlotte two days ago (July 2). Reverend Ann Gibert from St. Paul UMC has done a terrific job setting up our operation in Charlotte

As Camp Director there are still a few administrative things to do. I'm waiting on money to arrive from the SC Conference and I'll be badgering a few folks to get their medicals to me. I also have to write down the directions from the church to the homes, showers, lunch locations and the local Lowe's and Home Depot so the teams will find their ways around Charlotte and Huntersville. But other than that, not much else to do but wait for the campers to arrive.

Let the camp begin

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July 17, 2004 - First day of camp

It's finally here! The camp has started. I'm writing this late Saturday night and I'd have to say that we're off to good start. Everybody arrived on time and we got through the day without any hitches. On the first day that's all that you want

The first day at Salkehatchie can be somewhat frantic. Campers are arriving. You've got to get them registered and make sure they all have filled out their medical forms. Then you have to make sure that they find their "living quarters". After a brief orientation it's off to visit the homeowners. The purpose of the homeowner visits is to give the youth an opportunity to see and rank the homes we'll be working on. It's quite something to take a tour with 46 campers visiting the homes. At the end of the tour the youth will hand in their "Site Preference Forms" letting me know which home they'd prefer to work on. On Saturday evening I took the forms and along with my Assistant Director (and wife) Mona we created the teams. It's not always easy to manage the various wants and desires of everyone in camp but we did our best. I hope the youths are happy with the way we formed the teams. I guess I'll find out Sunday morning.

The youth check out the basement at the Morehead home

The evening programming was great. Billy Rintz and Perry Brittain did a great job. Perry is the Youth Director at Huntersville UMC. He did a great job pulling together the band for our camp. Members of the band include Perry's daughter Laura (keyboards), Sandy Rogers, HUMC's Music Director (keyboards) and her husband Jesse (bass), and David Branch (drums). David is a close personal friend of Mona and me. Billy did a great job involving the youth in some team and trust building exercises.

We've got a good group of youth. Everyone seems to ready to have fun and work hard. It should be a good week. If we can only get the weather to cooperate ....

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July 18, 2004

If there is any such thing as an easy Salkehatchie day, from the point of view of the camp director, it's probably the Sunday of the camp. The most stressful thing happening is making sure that everyone finds the site for the afternoon outing which was Lake Norman State Park. Other than that it's pretty easy.

Camp Photo 2004 ... looking forward to a great camp

However, that's not the case for the site leaders. On Sunday morning we publish the listings of the site teams. When the youth get up they find out for the first time where they'll be working for the coming week. You worry that some youth will be disappointed with their assignment. There didn't seem to be any problems this time around .... at least no one brought them to my attention.

After breakfast, the site teams head off to meet their homeowners. It's an opportunity for the homeowner to meet "their" team and for both sides to discuss their priorities for the week. The site leader also leads the group in a devotion

After meeting with the homeowner it's back to the church. At our camp, the campers have Sunday worship at Huntersville UMC. We all sit together. This year we took up five pews (for those of you keeping track of those things).

After lunch we take the "Camp Photo" and have lunch. Prior to leaving for the lake outing the site teams can do a little planning for the week ahead. But everyone looks forward to the trip to the lake. Most of the youth and a few of the adults spent the afternoon in the lake swimming and/or boating. As for me, I was content to spend the afternoon under the pavilion not doing much of anything. I had not slept well the previous night and was doing all I could to keep awake.

The camp director Jerry Kita commissions each of the campers

This year we decided to have our evening program out at the lake rather than rushing back to the church. It turned out be a great idea. The weather was perfect. The most important part of the Sunday evening program is the commissioning of the workers. The Salkehatchie Camp in Camden, SC years ago started a tradition of commissioning their workers. When we started the Huntersville Camp we decided that we would do the same. Our theme for this camp is "The Treasures Within". The theme itself is meant to ask the question ... "What will you find in a Salkehatchie house?" To symbolize the theme Billy Rintz created necklaces from which hang a wooden house. Each worker is presented with a necklace as part of the commissioning.

The commissioning is meant to remind the campers why we are at Salkehatchie. There is a purpose here beyond just learning new skills and meeting new people. The commissioning acts as a reminder that we can do God's work through service to others. It sets the tone for the remainder of the week.

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July 19, 2004

I was nervous this morning. It's Monday, the first work day of Salkehatchie. There wasn't anything really to get nervous about. The planning team had done its job and everything was in place as far as lunches, snacks and showers were concerned. For our Charlotte-based teams we had arranged for showers and lunches to be in Charlotte. We also made arrangements with Home Depot for building supplies in Charlotte. There was no reason for me to be nervous at all about that.

As it turned out it was a good day. Each of the sites got off to a great start and everyone worked hard. You can check the specifics of what each site did at home sites.

I learned last year that I could gauge how well things were going in camp by the number of calls I received on my cell phone. The more calls I received the worse it was. People are quick to share problems and troubles but no one feels the need to update me if things are going well. I was happy to say that I didn't receive more than a few calls and there were no major issues.

Lunch on Monday at Calvary UMC

I wanted to observe first hand our Charlotte arrangements so I had lunch in Charlotte. Our lunch was at Calvary United Methodist Church. They did a great job. I also met their pastor Shirley who had some thoughts regarding homes we could work on next year. Everyone was pleased with the lunch. I also accompanied the Morehead team to their showers. The showers would be at Myers Park United Methodist Church. When we arrive the door that I was told would be open was in fact locked. I did manage to find my way inside and everyone got their showers.

The teams got back to HUMC a bit late for dinner so hopefully the timing will be better for the rest of the week.

Our version of "Who's Line is it anyways?"

The evening program led by Billy Rintz and music lead by Perry Brittain was great. Billy's theme discussed what it was that we need to throw away. He not only spoke about the homeowners and what they need to get rid of but he also talked about things that we need to throw away in our own lives. We also had some fun with a Salkehatchie rendition of "Who's line is it anyways?". In three separate provisational skits Robert Dobbins played the part of a Salkehatchie worker calling his grandmother (played by William Flake) and describing his first day. Justin Blackburn and Vance Lowe portrayed two cockroaches and their reaction to a couple of Salkehatchie workers. And finally, a Salkehatchie worker (Tyler Wilson) and a confused homeowner (Meredith Davis) try to understand what is Salkehatchie. They were all very funny.

It was a good day

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July 20, 2004

I'm tired. I really have no business being tired because I'm not the one doing any of the work. I have youth and adults to do that. Maybe having an air mattress with a slow leak has something to do with that. Nevertheless I decided to have an easy day. For me Tuesday is the best day to do that and I think there's a reason for that.

I think that the work week at Salkehatchie has a predictable rhythm. On Monday everyone comes out of the weekend with a lot of adrenalin. On Tuesday everything is still going OK but the everyone is dragging a bit. On Wednesday everything starts coming apart and we begin to wonder if the projects can get done in time. On Thursday miracles happen and everyone is euphoric on Friday. This is my sixth year at a Salkehatchie camp (my second as a Camp Director) and the five previous seemed to have the same pattern. That's why I decided to take it easy ... rest up for the inevitable disasters on Wednesdays.

When everyone is connected by string you can get pretty close

Last year was our first camp and the wheels seemed to come off on Wednesday. Some personnel issues came to a head and a couple of site teams suddenly realized they were way off their schedule and completing their homes by Friday was very questionable. Overall it was a great camp like every Salkehatchie camp is but we really had to scramble for a couple of days.

I started the day in Huntersville visiting the Bost and Baxter sites. Everything was going well. I'm mostly interested in seeing that the youth are fully engaged in something around the home. Youth standing around is never a good sign. Fortunately we have experienced Salkehatchie veterans running our sites so they understand that this is a youth ministry and not an adult ministry.

I joined the Huntersville teams for lunch at Meadowlake Presbyterian Church. As expected it was a great lunch.

In the afternoon I drove into Charlotte and visited the Grier and Morehead sites. Like the Huntersville sites everything was going well. Everything was torn up but it was going well. By 3:00pm I was back at the church

Not many phone calls today. Another sign that things are progressing well.

The other big change for me this year is that this camp has a website. A couple of weeks ago I committed to keeping the website updated with photos and general camp updates during the week even though I wasn't quite sure how I would take care of that and everything else that I need to pay attention to in camp. Anyways, the solution was easy ... I would just get less sleep. That being said I am a little more tired this year than last but it seems to be worth it. The youth and adults get a kick out having their accomplishments on the web and parents are calling to tell their kids that they can see them on the web. We had around 2500 hits on the website on Tuesday alone so thank you to those of you out there that who've made this website a daily destination.

Demonstrating how not to wash off oil-based primer

Tuesday evening program was the usual mixture of fun and thought. We separated the Charlotte and Huntersville teams and formed two lines. Each team had to thread a spoon attached to a string through an article of clothing. The team that was able to do that and have the longest piece of string at the end was the winner. Thankfully this was after everyone had taken their showers.

Billy also got the youth and a few adults to participate in a play. Billy narrated the play and the "actors" would respond to Billy's description of what was happening. It was hilarious and everyone had a good time with it.

It was another good day. I relaxed like I hoped I would and braced myself for what Wednesday would bring

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July 21, 2004

I fully expected that we'd take a few lumps today. That's just the way Wednesday's normally go. I was pleasantly surprised, thrilled really, that we got through the day without any problems. All of the teams continued to make progress on their projects and we looked like we might end the week with every home completing their homes. The only problem that seemed to crop up happened when an outdoor leaking pipe caused water to spray everybody working on the Baxter. That was easily taken care of.

Ms Baxter looks down her chimney and knows that Santa has come early

Here's a few highlights from the day:

Billy Rintz joined me on my rounds. He knows very well how I feel about Wednesdays at Salkehatchie so I suspect that in addition to wanting to see the homes he wanted to provide me with some moral support in case I needed.

We dropped by the Baxter home early in the day. The team was putting the finish touches on the roof. The roof had been an unexpected project since we had previously thought that the roof was in good shape. Nevertheless the team knocked it off in about a day and half. When I arrived I got up on the roof to see what was going on and take a few pictures. Ms Baxter was in the front yard observing the action. I invited her onto the roof and she started coming up the ladder. When she got to the top she told me that she was afraid of heights. Nevertheless she showed her usual good humor and wandered around checking out the work. She had a good time.

Vance Lowe is in the laundry room. The cameraman is in the basement

When I visited the Morehead home the team was moving along. Last year I discovered, by accident, a new game which I now call "Scare Vance". Last year Vance Lowe was part of the team working on the Little home. On Monday morning he was investigating whether the hot water heater in the kitchen actually worked. I had dropped by the house to take a few pictures. At the precise moment that Vance had his hands in the wiring of the water heater I snapped a picture. The flash of the camera made him believe he had an electric shock. When I arrived at the Morehead home I entered the home through the basement. The team had taken apart the laundry room floor and Vance was standing the space below the floor. I could see his legs but he couldn't see me. Vance happened to be using a reciprocal near an electrical wire. I snapped a picture for another round of "Scare Vance". Got him again.

While in Charlotte, Billy and I dropped in on the offices of Love INC. Love INC was the organization that had provided us with the leads on the Morehead and Grier homes. It was an opportunity for Bill to see their offices and update them on the progress of the Grier and Morehead homes.

The Morehead team did have to deal with one mishap. Lindsay Wootten contracted a severe case of poison ivy was Tresca Hollis took her to Urgent Care. After having some medicine prescribed she was back at work.

The day did end up going very smoothly. As I mentioned earlier every team continued to make progress on their sites. The Grier team had the toughest challenges (not suggesting for a moment that anyone else had an easy time) but they continued to methodically move forward. Baker had his team doing what they needed to do move forward. However, Baker did experience a few electrical problems in the house during the afternoon and asked that I track down an electrician.

At the Huntersville Family Fitness and Aquatic Center. They gave us the facility for two hours free on Wednesday evening.

As was the case with last year's camp we decided that Wednesday evening should be a fun evening for the youth. We knew that Thursday and Friday would be hard work days as the teams worked to finish their jobs. The youth and adults had worked hard and needed a break from the usual evening programming. The Huntersville Family Fitness & Aquatic (HFFA) center held their waterpark open two extra hours from 7:00pm to 9:00pm for use by our campers. Those who wanted to play in the water were able to and those who wanted to relax on the deck could do that. The weather was great and everyone seemed to have a good time. I went down the water slide a few times, jammed my left index finger trying to catch a football and then went to sit down like the rest of the old people.

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July 22, 2004

Bob Sims is one of those guys who seems to calm everyone down when he arrives on the scene. He's been our camp electrical guy over the past two years. There doesn't seem to be any problem he can't handle. This one was no different. We're glad to have him.

I started the day in the office. Katie Fralic, the youth missions director for the Western Conference of the United Methodist Church was planning on dropping by at 9:00am. Her plan was to take a tour of the homes in Huntersville followed by the homes in Charlotte. My hope was to take her around the homes. She arrived at about 8:40am and as she entered my office my phone rang. It was Bob Sims. I had put in a call to Bob the previous evening in the hope that he could assist the Grier team with an electrical problem. That created a quick change of plans. Katie had take the tour on her own and I accompanied Bob down to the Grier home.

Bob Sims to the rescue as always! Thanks Bob.

Bob Sims is one of those guys who seems to calm everyone down when he arrives on the scene. He's been our camp electrical guy over the past two years. There doesn't seem to be any problem he can't handle. This one was no different. We're glad to have him.

The Grier team was getting on my case because there were fewer pictures of the Grier home on the website compared to other teams. They were right. There were more pictures of the Huntersville teams because it was easier for me to visit those sites. So while waiting for Bob to complete his electrical work I snapped about 30 pictures on the Grier site. They'll be on the web site tonight.

When Bob was finished we drove back to HUMC. We made it back in time for lunch at New Friendship Presbyterian Church. It was generally accepted last year that New Frienship provided the best lunch during the camp. Lots of chicken wings and vegetables ... all the desert you could eat. The Huntersville teams had really been looking forward to this meal. They weren't disappointed. It was another great meal.

Lunch at New Friendship Presbyterian

After lunch I swung by the Bost home. They were a happy group. The exterior painting had been mostly finished and the house was looking great. They were waiting on some plumbing help but other than that everything was coming along well.

The Baxter house was also is good shape with different teams working on the deck, kitchen and exterior painting. The adults felt they were a little behind on the deck but it would get done.

I hadn't yet visited the Morehead home today so I headed back to Charlotte. The Morehead house was coming along. Most of the team had moved into painting mode. The roof and the front porch were completed with only the floors in the laundry room and bathroom remaining. The team was generally upbeat.

Drew Dupre was today's poison ivy victim. (Note to self: Next year survey the sites for signs of poison ivy, poison sumach, wasp nests, fire ants .... we've had our share of incidents this year). Erin Wootten, not to be outdone by her sister, scraped up her knee and that had to be bandaged up.

For my last stop of the day I went to the Grier home. The Grier team also seemed to be upbeat but I sense a great sense of urgency in their work. They'll have a tough time completing everything by end of day and they know it. The Grier home is by far and away the toughest of the four homes that we have this year. The workspace is small and the we found the home in horrible shape. Every project seems to reveal another problem that need to be dealt with. The whole flooring system in the kitchen needed replacing. That the team is a little behind schedule is not surprising. On top of everything else Robert Cox slashed in hand on a nail slowing him down. Considering the conditions under which they are working they are doing a remarkable job.

Another minor injury

A few days ago a couple of the youth approached me and asked if they could have a talent show sometime during the week. I discussed it with Billy since he and Perry run the evening programs. They thought it would be a good idea so we told the youth we'd do it on Thursday. After dinner we held the talent show in the Fellowship Hall. It was a riot. Larry Hawkey kicked it off with a Jeff Goldworthy-esque dissertation on "You might be at Salkehatchie". For a full appreciation of Larry's insights check out You Might Be At Salkehatchie. It's great.

The newly-named Salkehatchie Players (Tyler Piehl, Laura Brittain, Justin Blackburn, Kathleen Pekarek, Andrew Hawkey, Vance Lowe and Savannah Craig) did a skit depicting what happens when a couple on a date can't sit together in a movie theatre. The skit was less about the couple on the date and more about how much food and drink Vance Lowe could consume in five minutes. It was a fun skit for everyone with the possible exception of Vance.

A skit at the Thursday evening talent show

During the talent show I paged Dr Gina LiCause. Robert Cox was feeling some discomfort in his hand as a result of the nail incident. Gina took one look at it and took Robert off to her office where she put in seven stitches. Gina is one of the many folks at HUMC who offered their time to help the camp. We never want to give Gina too much business during the camp but we're really glad that she's there. Thanks Gina.

It's Thursday night and we've had a great camp. One more day to go. Everyone is very very tired and some of the youth were showing signs of wearing down. Although it hasn't been as hot this week as earlier anticipated it still is July and humid. We just need a good push from everyone on Friday.

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July 23, 2004

Is it Friday already? The Salkehatchie week is an intense week but it's also a fast week. Lots of anticipation regarding Fridays. Three of the teams were coasting (somewhat) towards completion while the Grier team as anticipated had the most work left to complete. Baker Ratliff on the Grier team had asked for a few extra hands so I took Robert Elvington and Joe Rummage to his site early in the morning. I made the rounds of the homes early in the day but I felt the best thing I could do was stay out of everyone's way. I spent most of the day hanging around the church.

The outside of the Bost home on Friday morning

I did have one moment of panic while in Charlotte in the morning. I reached into my pocket to find Richard Hagins' truck keys. I had helped him move some appliances into his truck early in the morning and I had briefly driven his truck prior to loading it up. I then drove off with his keys. Fortunately, Richard had a spare set and didn't miss a beat. Of course, I didn't realize that until later.

I did however have lunch with the Charlotte teams. It was my opportunity to check out the lunch at Dilworth United Methodist Church. It's a great facility and they put on a great lunch. It was also an opporutunity to Rev Duke Ison who was formerly the pastor at HUMC.

I spent the afternoon killing time waiting for the teams to complete their work so we could begin the tour. At about 3:00pm in the afternoon I received a call from Baker Ratliff saying those words we never want to hear on a Friday afternoon at Salkehatchie, "We have a problem". Apparently, the installation of new bathroom fixtures and plumbing revealed some chronic plumbing issues under the house. There was really no time to deal with those issues. We decided to install the plumbing fixtures and then deal with plumbing under the house later. There was much of an option to do otherwise.

The Morehead team gathers with Mr and Mrs Morehead. The work week is over and it's time to show off what's been done.

Our plan was to start the tour at the Morehead house. When we had earlier made our schedule we decided to allow the Charlotte-based teams to have their showers and then stay in Charlotte for the start of the tour. No point having them drive to Huntersville only to have them turn around again and return to Charlotte. Both Charlotte teams decided to pass on their showers (for a few hours) so they could maximize their work time. I quickly arranged for both of those teams to shower at the Huntersville facilities.

The tour, for me, is one of the highlights of the week. It's the opportunity for every team to show off what they have done to everyone else in camp. I also find that I'm a whole lot more relaxed during the tour than any other time during the week. It's a time for celebration for the workers and the homeowners. This tour like others that I've participated was great. Everyone was upbeat, not only because of what was accomplished but because the work week had come to end. Every team had accomplished more than they originally imagined. The tour started at about 5:45pm (about 45 minutes late) and concluded in Charlotte about 8:00pm. Allowing for showers the teams arrived for dinner at 9:00pm.

The Bost team on the Friday tour of homes

The evening program began at 9:45pm. The Friday evening program at Salkehatchie is reserved for the symbols and communion service. During the week each camper had found, on their site, something that was significant to them in some way. Friday is their opportunity to describe their symbol to the rest of the camp. It's a wonderful ceremony. At the conclusion of the symbol ceremony communion is served.

On Thursday during the evening program Billy had asked all the campers to write on an index card about how they saw Jesus in another individual in camp. The writings were to be anonymous. Billy collected the cards. On Friday Billy asked Larry Hawkey, Tresca Hollis and Katie Owens to serve communion with him. Many of the campers had written of the impact those three had made on them during the camp.

The campers gather around the Baxter home

On Friday after the evening program we usually relax our lights-out rule. The youth have worked hard during the week and deserve the time to unwind. In addition, they've made new friends over the course of the week and Friday's the last opportunity to spend time with them.

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July 24, 2004 - End of camp

On the opening Saturday of this camp I showed the campers a slide show describing the 2003 camp. I told them that I would close the 2004 camp by showing them a presentation of this camp. I can't think of a better to close the camp. I literally stayed up all night to not only put Friday's pictures on the web site but to create a 333 slide powerpoint presentation. I put the finishing touches on the presentation about 6:30am. (Staying up all night also gave me the opportunity to keep tabs on the youth who were still awake. About 3:00am I sent the ones who were still up to bed.)

At that point there wasn't any getting any sleep. I seemed to get a second wind at 7:00am as some of the campers started to get up.

Breakfast was served at 8:00am and the United Methodist Men, as they had done all week, made a great breakfast.

My only real dilemma was how to close the camp. Billy would have normally dismissed the camp but would be away this morning picking up his son, Jason, from a youth conference. I approached Vance Lowe and asked him if he would close the camp. He agreed to do that.

The evening symbols ceremony

After breakfast the campers cleared their gear from the church allowing camp volunteers to begin turning the Sunday School classrooms back into classrooms.

The presentation was at 9:30am. It ran about 18 minutes and Perry selected some great music to accompany it. It was great. At the conclusion of the presentation Vance got up to close the camp. He did a superb job of summarizing the week ... what it meant to him and what it meant to the young people at camp. For the last two years Vance has been a tremendous supporter of the Huntersville Camp. We're glad to have him.

Camp dismissed.

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