Posted tagged ‘University of Sioux Falls’

Camp Tears

July 24, 2016

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                             July 24, 2016


I finished a week of church camp yesterday and fell into bed last night. The last morning was filled with goodbye hugs and tearful farewells. Tears, in fact, were a frequent occurrence at camp this week.

It started on Sunday afternoon as parents dropped off their children and teenagers. One young mom didn’t show her tears until she was sure her eight year old son was running towards an activity on the basketball court. Since this mom is my daughter I was standing beside her and saw the tears running down her cheeks in front of a smiling face. I gave her a hug of reassurance. Her tears were tears of releasing, as she saw her little boy arrive at one of those life points where he will spend a week away from home. I remember that kind of tears. After we dropped off our youngest daughter, Lizi, at the University of Sioux Falls for her first semester, Carol and I don’t remember seeing Nebraska on the way home because of the rain storms in our eyes. And yet they were good tears…tears when you realize your child has grown to another defining point. We release them and we cry our eyes out.

There were also tears of laughter numerous times at camp. I laughed when I was inspecting the elementary camp cabin for boys. One room whose occupants were eight, nine, and ten year olds had four bottles of AXE body spray and body wash. You know…AXE, that product whose commercials show women attacking a man who sprays his body with it. We laughed as we thought of fourth grade girls attacking a good-smelling four-foot tall boy. In the elementary camp the only attacking that was being done happened if someone tried to butt into the Snack Snack line. As room inspector I HAD made the point about good-smelling rooms being one thing I looked for in determining which of the boys’ rooms was the best. The second morning I walked into one room to see one boy walking around waving a deodorant stick in the air with the idea it would be like a room air freshener.

In that same cabin there were also tears from hurtful words. One boy came to me with tears running down his face and said, “Bobby has been saying that our room smells bad because I’m farting!” In deep sorrow he bellowed, “I’m not the one who is farting!” I counseled him back to health, although in the midst of his anguish I think there was a moment of flatulence.

There were tears from the deep wells of our soul. One middle school boy, who has Down’s Syndrome and hearing problems, got up on the last night at the talent show and sang a song as he played the guitar. Although the lyrics didn’t rhyme his original song talked about how much he loved his counselor, the amazing grace of God, and how much he missed his dad. The campers gave him a standing ovation as a number of them wept. They had seen how this young man had made the week at camp special and had offered his own unique personality of gentleness and caring.

There were tears of pain, as a number of campers shared their hurts and worries. Several had pent up emotions about parental health concerns. The camp environment and the trusting in their counselors allowed some of them to release the emotion. The dam broke as they allowed the anxiety, the bottled-up stress, to flow out.

Pastor Bill and me…better known at camp as “Pastor Bill Squared”…sat and listened with a mom on the last morning whose husband had gotten a grim diagnosis on the cancer he has battled. It was a time for tears, and angry tears, and even thankful tears. Her husband was first diagnosed six years ago. She is thankful for the six years, but there is sorrow in the moment as they face the uncertainty of the future.

And then there were my tears, as I dealt with the pain of that moment…as I saw my grandson at different times during the week being so engaged in the activities, focused on what was being taught, feeling free to dance in the midst of the elementary camp worship (So vigorously that he lost a screw in his glasses!)…as I watched counselors relating to their campers, getting to know them in ways that, you might say, had them deeply rooted in their lives.

I shed tears of thankfulness for what was and the journey these kids and teens had taken during the week. It’s amazing how in just a few hours time tears can flow from the same eyes out of thankfulness, sorrow, joy, and laughter.

Camp tears drench our souls and soak into our memories.


June 26, 2014

WORDS FROM W.W.                                                           June 26, 2014




My home study is populated with pictures. Pictures tell of what was, and provide sweet remembrances of times gone by.

Sitting on my desk in front of me is a framed picture of my granddaughter when she was two, dressed in the same red dress with white lace that her mom wore when she was also two. Reagan is staring at my when a smile on her face. If her picture came alive right now she could get whatever she wanted from her granddad!

Above her on the wall is a picture of the Mason High School Girl’s Junior Varsity basketball team that I helped coach in 1997. I’m wearing a sweet looking pair of khaki shorts and eye glasses that cover about two-thirds of my face. Eleven girls separate me from Coach Don Fackler, who is on the other side of the picture. Don taught me so much about coaching, and I miss him terribly. I find his voice coming out of my mouth so often in practice and at games. The girls in the picture have gone on to be moms, coach other teams, and develop callings and careers that we would never have imagined.

When I turn around the wall behind me is covered with team pictures of other teams I’ve coached through the years. Each picture is now still life, but my mind is flooded with memories when I gaze at each one of them. I remember the goofballs, the boys who would make me laugh hysterically, and the head cases that kept me awake at night.

Good teams! Bad teams! Teams that worked hard, and teams that didn’t know how to work.

At the top of the rows of pictures is my youngest daughter’s college cheer squad from University of Sioux Falls. She cheered for the Cougars all four years she was there and only experienced one defeat in football, that being one year in the NAIA championship game. The other three years they won the NAIA. She looks so fit and pretty in the squad picture. I’m a little reluctant to remind myself that she is my baby.

There are no wedding pictures in my study. For some reason those are confined to the guest bedroom, like a different exhibit in the museum.

Pictures tell a thousand stories and cause my soul to chuckle in delight.