This was our eighteenth consecutive year in attendance at The Salvation Army's Central Bible and Leadership Institute. Despite obstacles and setbacks, we were determined to attend (most significantly on Trevor's behalf because he was anticipating his first year in the tween track). When we discovered our school year was set to begin right smack in the middle of camp, I made it an urgent matter of prayer and finally decided we would simply sacrifice two and a half days at camp and one day of school in order to still attend our favorite annual event.
The first half of camp literally flew by. We were blessed with accommodations in the lodge (I believe it was on a first-come/first-serve basis this year and we did get our registration and paperwork in almost as soon as it was available). Trevor's first night was extra fun because the tween track held a glow party afterglow. While I didn't get any pictures of the afterglow, I did scavenge the Jr. High CBLI Facebook page for a few shots of Trevor in his track:
They had an 80's theme and at the end of camp, Trevor was allowed to bring one of the giant Rubik's cube decorations home. Here he is in worship and in his small group with two of his friends, Justin and Emmett:
Since the boys are older now, I am able to play in the brass band. It was much more organized this year and our rehearsals and performances were fun. We felt especially blessed this year because my brother, David, and his wife Miriam, were on staff for CBLI this year. Thus, we were able to spend a fair amount of time with them in conversation over meals.
Before we knew it, Tuesday afternoon was upon us and we headed back home so the boys could attend the first two days of school. When John went out to check the van over prior to our return to camp, he discovered an unsightly crack in one of the tires. I ended up driving his burly truck back to camp, but was grateful I didn't drive the van and experience a blowout on the busy highways.
One afternoon, during free time, we made a trek into Antioch, Illinois, to visit the boys' favorite gag gift and costume shop, J.J. Blinkers. Trevor was thrilled to find a magnetic tube of Butterfinger flavored lip balm (it will stick to his locker at school). Sean insisted on purchasing a humorous gag gift for his dad:
I had a hard time settling on an elective class. With the added wrinkle of two missed days, I ended up visiting three different classes over a four day span (Ephesians, Women in Leadership, and Faith-filled Families). However, Linda Himes's daily Bible sessions were a big hit. She traced the theme of the kinsman-redeemer from Genesis to Revelation. It was a powerful lesson and I was grateful to have benefited from her previous study of the book of Ruth (another year) to make up for the missed days of class.
Once again, I enjoyed the hymn sing and testimony time. The Singing Company accompanied the songs and provided us with a moving time of worship and praise:
Friday evening the Jr. CBLI track held a dress-up ball. Alas, we forgot to pack dress clothes the second time around, so Sean attended in his usual casual attire. The girls really were decked out for the festivities and Sean said they were glutted with pizza and candy. Here is a photo of the kids on the tram (the stretch-limo that took them back and forth to classes daily) heading to the ball and a few photos of Sean at the ball. The winter theme is in conjunction with the missions fundraiser of Share Your Christmas Joy (the camp raised enough to send money to over a hundred foreign children's homes to provide a Christmas experience for the children in the homes).
On the final Saturday, I leaned in for my annual selfie with my friend, Laura:
Then, the kids presented their performance:
We were pleasantly surprised when Sean was called forward to accept the award for Top Boy Camper in his Jr. CBLI track. He said the rest of the kids swarmed him afterward because they thought his armor was so cool:
On the last morning, I remembered to take a quick photo of Sean with his good friend, Jonas:
It was definitely worth making the extra effort to make it happen, but the arrangements certainly shortened the experience for us. Next year is still up in the air. We've heard talk of a shift in the CBLI calendar, moving the dates up a week, but this may not be enough since our school is determined to begin school in July of 2017. Groan! For now we will count our blessings and relish the memories we've made.