From Obstacle to Awesome: Chaos Camp

October 4, 2012

Thank you, Kyle Lefler, for sharing your summer story! Did staff at your camp overcome any obstacles this summer? Share your favorite memory with

Along with much of the East Coast, our little summer camp was devastated by the thunderstorms the weekend of July 4th. Mar Lu Ridge (MLR) is a Lutheran summer camp located in the mountains of Frederick County, Maryland. The storms came quickly and hit our little mountain hard, felling trees, taking out the power (and water!), and leaving debris everywhere.

As a staff, we slowly made our way down the road and through the woods to investigate the damage. Much to our relief, our newly renovated dining hall was totally untouched, as was our 50-year-old A-frame chapel, which is entirely fronted in glass. What a blessing! Unfortunately, the road was impassable and camp would have to make some major adjustments.

In the wake of the storm, we rallied — campers were set to arrive the next day. A huge group effort moved as many supplies as we could down to our retreat center, which had been mostly untouched by the winds and rain. Our biggest week of the summer was a success, thanks to a lot of hard work and creativity on the part of the staff. Campers relished the new adventures and an opportunity to stay at a usually “off limits” part of camp. Nature hikes became grand excursions to a "hidden pond" and the lawn became our chapel. The work of our year-round staff and some awesome volunteers allowed us back on the mountain by Friday night closing — just a week after the storm!

That week, lovingly referred to as Chaos Camp, was such a testament to the love of the MLR community. There is a special sort of magic at summer camp — where anything is truly possible with the right amount of dedication. We met our challenge as a community, and proved something my director always emphasized during my first few summers on staff: Without the community, the LOVE of staff and campers alike, this place would just be a bunch of buildings on a mountain. Beautiful? Yes. But special? Not without those who gather here.

That loving community has shaped my life (I just finished my fifth summer as a counselor) and the lives of countless others. Long live summer camp!

Photo courtesy of Skyline Camp and Retreat Center, Almont, Michigan