For about 10 years I have been going to summer camp. It's called Special Days and that's exactly what they are. I direct a camp for developmentally disabled adults in the mountains, and it's the best week of my year.
I can't remember exactly why I was first asked to be the director. I only know that after I led the camp the first year, I never wanted to give it up. It is the place where I know I will find the kingdom of God, a place where I experience the very best of humankind.
The schedule never changes. The campers arrive Monday afternoon. There is a sing-along after dinner that first evening, followed by ice cream and social time. Tuesday through Thursday we begin the day with devotions. On Tuesday, we enjoy crafts and recreation. On Wednesday we go to Tweetsie Railroad Park. Tuesday night is the talent show and Wednesday night is the dance. And I suppose it is both of these events that make me feel the most like I have entered paradise.
It doesn't matter what talent is showcased on Tuesday night, everyone is celebrated. Everybody is a star and everybody goes away feeling as if we have been in the company of greatness. And the truth is we have been.
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The dance is also always an evening of adventure and joy. The campers in wheelchairs twirl their partners, who stand and dance in front of them. One participant, a loving and warm man, quite limited in his movement because of his cerebral palsy, always dances so hard that he falls down. But he's still dancing even as his friends pull him up from the floor. One year, I partnered up with George, a wiry young man from Hickory, who had a number of fancy moves.
At one point, we were heading towards a dip. Based upon his expertise in so many other dance steps, I assumed he knew what he was doing and that he could hold me. I was wrong. He dropped me, hard. As I lay crumpled, Martha, the program director of the retreat center, ran over and knelt down by my side. “Did you see Heaven?” she asked. I laughed, of course, but the funny thing was, I did.
Lynne Hinton, a minister and author, writes monthly in Faith & Values. Reach her at www.LynneHinton.com