Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Church camp and swimming

Two things I really enjoyed as a kid were going to church camp and going to the Poteau swimming pool for a morning of fun. They weren’t very expensive but something I looked forward to every summer.

Church camp was in Talihina at the Kiamichi Baptist Assembly. There was a fee, but I'm sure it was nominal. Don’t remember exactly how long it lasted, but seems like it was a week -- Sunday or Monday through Friday. I went for about five straight summers.

First Baptist had a sizable cabin over there that we all stayed in. There were, I don’t know, maybe 40 or so kids, counting both boys and girls. We stayed in separate sides of the cabin, of course. Though we saw each other every day or so back in Heavener, it was always good to see everyone. Sorta like a reunion.

All ages, too.

Some were there to make something serious out if it, like Claude Raines, who went on to become a preacher, I think. Then there were the rest of us that went to have a good time.

Oh, we had to go to classes every day and we’d all gather in the tabernacle every night for a church service, but it was mostly to have a good time and meet other kids from other churches. I don’t remember how many churches were represented, but kids came from Poteau, Stigler, Atoka, Panama, etc.

The cooks always prepared good meals for us – breakfast, lunch and dinner. We called it dinner and supper. Mrs. Dudley was always a cook and she could bake the best rolls, I remember. Barbara Mattison was always one of the cooks and had a dessert ready for us after the evening service.

Each boy and girl had separate bunk beds, like I said, on opposite sides of the cabin. The boys always tried to crawl in the rafters over to the girls’ side. Once, I remember a counselor woke up to find a bunch of boys in the rafters.

"Big John" Titsworth, as we called him, was one and he fell right on top of me when the counselor discovered what they were doing.

There were all kinds of activities for everyone. One was baseball or softball -- church against church

For some reason I remember playing ball against Jerry Heatherington of Panama, who later was a running back at Oklahoma. I used to think to myself, “I remember him.”

Everybody tried to have a girlfriend from another church. I had a girlfriend from Stigler, Kathy Barnett, one or two years. Her parents actually brought her to Heavener to see me after camp ended. I saw her years later and we recalled our great times at church camp.

The other thing I looked forward to was going swimming at Poteau. We used to catch a school bus at Heavener High School and ride over on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Parents would drop everyone off, because they knew the kids would be safe. No chaperones were necessary on the bus. I usually walked from home to the school, like I did every day during the school year. Sometimes I would get a ride with Mike Mattison’s mother or Russell Walker’s mother, if we were running late.

It cost something like a dime to ride the bus. Then a soda pop was 10 cents and a candy bar just a nickel, so for a quarter you could go and have a big time.

I was never much of a swimmer – still not – but it was all in fun, anyway. It was always safe, with lifeguards and swimming instructors, and all. Again we usually saw everybody in Heavener during school, but it was always good to see them during the summer, too.

Yes, times were simpler and cheaper, but we still had fun.


At June 11, 2008 at 7:21 PM , Blogger Glen Lazalier said...


I have similar memories of our Presbyterian church camp at Dwight Mission near Sallisaw. Dwight Mission was a former Indian school and had separate dorms for boys and girls. The camps were grouped by age so everyone at a particular camp would be nearly the same age. The food was great amd we had a morning sunrise service and a vespers service each day.

My Dad was a conductor on the KCS and would drop notes to me wrapped around fusees where the train tracks crossed the path to the swimming hole. They made me quite popular because everybody wanted one of the fusees.

We, too, tried to get "girlfriends" from other towns. I remember three specific girls from three different years: Gay Beale (classic redhead) from McAlester, Sue Hamilton (short brunette hair) from Muskogee, and April Hobson (blonde) from Midwest City. We later occasionally saw each other at various church youth group gatherings.

The last year I went (1959) I was seriously in love with Jessie Williams (my then future and now current wife of 45 years) so I didn't have a camp girlfriend.

I was blessed to preach my first sermon when I was 14 at Dwight. The sermon topic was "Can You Drink This Cup?" and the Bible text was Mark 10:35-40.

Great memories and great folks and great fun.


At June 11, 2008 at 8:45 PM , Anonymous ann(pledger)kirksey said...

Oh yes, the old KBA camp..still going just like the energizer bunny. Quite a different format than we had but still just as much fun for the youth today. I started going when I was about 9yrs. old with the Hodgen Baptist Church. My aunt Fern Bowles was one of the cook/sponsers and. the only reason I got to go. Our small group at Zoe went with the Heavener FBC for a few years when Jerry Fielder was our pastor. Then in later years the Zoe Baptist Church built a cabin of their own. Lots of good memories. Thanks for bringing them to mind with your blog.


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