We Came, We Cleaned, We Conquered!

Spring Clean Up 2014 came and went with tons of work finished and camp was all cleaned up! It was also the first weekend for our new Director BJ Thompson and his arrival to camp. We had a great weekend getting to know BJ and work altogether with the friends that came and worked very consistently and hard, giving so much to camp in preparation for the summer and for it’s campers, soon to arrive.

Here’s our new Director BJ Thompson’s account of the weekend.

2014 Spring Cleanup weekend, My first experience at camp.

Hey all! I am so excited to be out at camp finally and was even able to meet a few of you during this past weekend at spring cleanup.


On Thursday, May 1st I was led up the road from Hughesville in the dark by Nathan and got into camp around 9pm.  I was met by Abby and Jen who were both so welcoming, and all three of them helped me unload the minivan worth of stuff I own into my new home.


I got the quick night version tour of camp and even had some late night ice cream. Side note: The tour went something like “this (place with random name) is in that direction *points off into the darkness*, and this (random other name I don’t know yet) is over there in that direction.  New home, some help moving in, and ice cream… what a great start 🙂

Friday morning rolls around and I get up early to wander around camp with a map giving a self-tour and learning where all the buildings were.  I found the stables, Wild Rice lake, Boys Camp, and the rock wall and then headed down to the other end of camp where I saw the new cabin that’s being built and the high ropes course. Taking the trail around Catfish Pond I ended up at the archery range and back to the main office just in time to meet the rest of the year round staff, Scott, Rickie, Elias, and Aqua.

As soon as we had everything planned out for the weekend, I jumped right in helping to get everything set up from cleaning the dining hall and kitchen to dropping off lumber in different locations for projects.  As everyone started to arrive I met even more new faces and it seemed everyone already knew all about me but I knew nothing about them.  (People must actually be reading this blog!) We had a great family style dinner, all at one big table, and everyone just hung around chatting and catching up.  We all headed off to bed ready to work the next day.


Saturday morning… Crisis time… Things are getting real…

So picture this, you wake up in a brand new place that you’ve never been to before, you don’t know how you got there or how to get out, you have little to no contact with the outside world, and everyone seems to know all about you, but you don’t know anything about them.

This is what I woke up to Saturday morning.  So lets clarify – I’ve never been to this camp before but I have of course looked at maps and pictures of the area.  I had followed Nathan up the hill in the pitch black twisting and turning for 25 minutes, which is pretty much the equivalent of being taken somewhere blindfolded.  I had no idea how to get down the mountain without help from either a GPS or someone else from camp.  As you all know there is pretty much no cell service at camp (funny story, feel free to ask me about it when you see me, I found out later that week that one of my friends was actually freaking out because they couldn’t get in touch with me!)  And finally due to the short version of my personal biography being posted a few weeks ago, everyone knew me and had certain knowledge of my background, but I had nothing to go off of for them.

I’ll be honest, I had a moment of doubt – What had I signed myself up for!? However that morning, I turned on the audio version of the lesson and sat in bed listening for a good 15 minutes, got up and looked out the window at the beautiful view of Crystal Lake.  I proceeded to get ready for the day by which time I had finished the lesson and was fired up, ready to go, and prepared to tackle the day.  I headed up to the Dining Hall to start cooking pancakes for the morning meal.  We had a little over 20 people and headed off for our different projects.  We had teams doing all sorts of projects from building two more new doors for the outdoor stage, to setting up teepees, to switching out the storm windows for screens at the Lodge.  I was heading up the team working at the Lodge, and again lets put this in perspective – I’m supposed to be leading a group of people who have all been to a Clean-Up Weekend before, some had even done this specific project before, and I’m supposed to be directing them on what to do and how to do it.  Luckily the day before I had figured out what I was going to be doing and Nathan helped explain what was supposed to happen and where everything was.


It went great.  We got going and everyone really worked together, helping each other out and we ended up finishing our project nice and early with suddenly nothing to do.  I got a hold of Elias, our waterfront director for the summer, and told him to put us to work.  I really just wanted to see what kind of toys we had down at the waterfront to play with for the upcoming summer 🙂  I had told Elias “If you see me staring out at the waterfront during the summer, don’t worry.  Its not me constantly looking over your shoulder, it’ll just be me wishing I could be out in the water instead of with the pile of work I’m sure I’ll have up at the office!”


Throughout the day, with all the projects we worked on, and all the new people I met, friends I made, and fun we had, it dawned on me why I was here.  It reminded me of what camp was and why I had taken this job.  I had somehow become part of a family in the span of a weekend – who knew that was possible? It was no longer the place I worked but it was home.


We completed project after project so quickly that Nathan and Scott had to scrounge for additional projects for people to work on. By the time evening rolled around a few of us had taken some canoes out on the lake, and we had a wonderful dinner.  A few of us made our way down to the lodge to relax by the fire and played a game of charades.  We had way more fun then we should have had especially for how tired we were from all the great work that was accomplished that day. I went to bed tired, content, and excited for the next day.


Sunday morning breakfast went great, I’m assuming.  Arianna Herlinger and I had to grab breakfast and wolf it down so we could prepare for church. We had a lovely church service, right next to a crackling fire in the Lodge with a beautiful solo sung by Lauren Hoyns, accompanied on the piano by Lindsay Catlin.  We took a group photo, completed a few more small projects, ate lunch and said our goodbyes.


It was horrible – I had a great weekend, made all these great new friends, and they were all leaving again! That’s just not cool.  I guess I’ll just have to wait till camp to see many of them again and to meet all the rest of you too.  I am so excited to be up here working/playing (depends on how you look at it) with everyone.


If you have any questions of any sort please don’t hesitate to contact me via camp’s phone or my new email bj@crystallakecamps.org. I am so looking forward to meeting everyone else and to having a wonderfully great summer!


If you haven’t yet, click here and check out the weekend’s photos on the CLC Facebook Page.

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