With great enthusiasm, 44 members of Pioneer United Methodist Church set off in car pools for the All-Church Family Camp at Wallowa Lake for a three-day weekend. It has been seven years since Pioneer’s family made the 2ó hour scenic drive from Walla Walla to the edge of the Oregon Alps.
The Camp has been there for over 90 years, but it is far from rustic. The deluxe yurt cabins have double and single beds, handmade quilts, private bathrooms, linens, towels, mini-fridges, microwaves, table and chairs, carpeting and decks with lounge chairs.
The schedule included simple worship services led by Chuck Hindman in the mornings around an “uncampfire” because of the burn ban. The evening services were in the lodge with Chuck and David Reinholz playing guitars, and the group singing in the glow of electric lanterns. Marshmallows for the s’mores were toasted in the kitchen.
There were many options for Saturday. We could go to Wallowa Lake a few blocks away and watch the Dragon Boat races, play gaga ball, basketball, volleyball, miniature golf, ladder-golf, or ride the tram to the 8,000-foot summit of Mt. Howard.
Some sat outside and sipped Red Horse coffee while deer grazed nearby, told stories in the tepee, learned the history of the Niimiipuu (also known as Nez Perce), or made friends over puzzles, board games and cards.
Freshly-prepared meals were a time for sharing at tables of eight and linger over tasty desserts and coffee.
The best part was being open to the mountain air, glacial Wallowa water, trees and birds, and making new friends. It was a time to store up memories of a weekend surrounded by God’s presence in the people and creation around us.