Thursday, October 18, 2007

Christian Camp

Many have heard of the movie Jesus Camp. Yeah, I suppose you'd have to consider them a little crazy. But I will say this. Crazy Christian Camp is loads of fun. I spent about 5 summers there. Excellent memories.

For us it was a very out of the way place near Lima, OH for a couple of years, then Fa-Ho-Lo during my High School years. What a riot. Now, it is true that they engaged in some behavior that some might consider abusive during worship service. During one service at the place near Lima (I don't remember where exactly it was located. I was only about 10) they for some reason got it into their heads that this service was going to be about our guilt as sinners, and our need to love one another. They poured on the emotional rhetoric to the point where some started crying. I believe this was perceived as evidence of activity by the Holy Spirit. This brought on even more impassioned statements and emotional appeals. They would not quit until the entire room was full of a bunch of sobbing 8-10 year olds. What a bizarre scene it must have appeared to a sane outsider had one been looking on.

But after the service it was time for fun and games. We played a game in the middle of the night where all the kids were split into two teams. One team had tube socks filled with flour. The other had items in hand which needed to be placed in a bucket in a remote corner of the woods. The challenge was to reach that corner without getting slapped with a tube sock that left a white mark due to the flour. That was great fun.

At Fa-Ho-Lo they had two daily worship services, which were similar to those at Lima. They ran us ragged all day long. But at night the challenge was to get up and try to get away with a few pranks without getting caught. Our greatest success was running a pair of my brothers huge, smelly, stained yellow (we washed our clothes with well water that always seemed to leave our white's a little discolored), brown streaky underwear up the flagpole. Every morning at 7 the entire group of campers (a couple of hundred people) met at the flagpole for the flag raising ceremony. We watched as they first were forced to run the underwear down before raising the flag. Awesome.

The other great thing about Fa-Ho-Lo was the chicks. Me and my brothers were on cloud 9 mingling with all of those hotties. I don't know what our problem was when it came to girls. We were just so uncomfortable around girls that we always avoided them in fear. There was no reason to. We were a pretty good looking group of guys (back then anyway). Everybody is at least 6 feet tall, wide shouldered, etc. Personality wise I don't think we really lacked. But around girls we would become so nervous that we just couldn't function, so we'd avoid them, and that would of course perpetuate our own awkward behavior around them.

Anyway, being put in a position where we had to mingle with girls (at least the ones on our own team) was good for us and we liked it.

So what's the point? Well, the point is it's probably true that Jesus Camp is a little weird. Probably they do some things that some might consider hazardous to your emotional health. But for my part I certainly don't feel the worse for wear due to it, and I wouldn't trade it for one additional summer week with nothing do.


MPLetten said...

My brother and I both attended FAHOLO growing up at least a few times. I'd describe it a bit more harshly.

Emotional manipulation, peer pressure, and more all work into the indoctrination and brainwashing of children. It's funny how pentecostal organizations spend most of their time and money on bringing in the children who don't know any better. Probabaly cause statistically, after a certain point in early teenage years, people are overwhelmingly unlikly to believe any of the shit they preach.

The fun times are used to suck children in and definitely wear them down, and open them up to different experiences.

Each year I went I felt pressured to speak in tongues (mindless babbling), fall over on my back when a preacher pushed my forehead (which I never caved into), and going to the altar every night and asking forgiveness for what a horrible person you are.

Jesus Camp does a very good job of exposing camps like that. Unfortunately not enough people have paid attention to it.

Anonymous said...

I grew up S. Baptist and went to the huge "Falls Creek" Baptist camp where emotional manipulation was par for the course. I've seen Jesus Camp, and we didn't get it as bad as those charismatics, but it was still emotional manipulation by well-intentioned leaders who were concerned for our souls. And yes, camp was mostly about the girls back then too. (early 80s)