Sunday, June 23, 2013

Dennis On COG Summer Camp




Oh, The Re-education Camps You'll Go! by *DrFaustusAU on deviantART


Dennis Diehl - EzineArticles Expert AuthorAs a kid I enjoyed several kinds of summer camps.  As a Boy Scout, those were the absolute best.  Living in a tent infested with raccoons at night and chased by bears as we distributed old bread from the roof of the latrine, not realizing how tall a bear can get when it stands up to get a better look was awesome!  Being the chubby pre-teen until I hit the swim team in high school, the panting behind me was not fellow scouts.  It was the bear!

I got merit badges in survival skills, cooking, canoeing and first aid. All quite practical things.  I broke the record of 9 minutes from the time one built a fire to the time it burned through a string 18 inches above the fire by  8 minutes and 45 seconds.  I had soaked the kindling and wood in kerosene all night for the event and I think it was the burning tire look of the fire that was suspect.  Great memories.  Our troops was truly "F Troop" but we had a ball.  Two weeks of just getting to be kids. 

Yep, same set up 50 years later

Then there was Bible Camp.  These are creatures of a different mother. We drove all the way to Bangor, Maine which was like going to the moon for me and spent a week doing stuff I can't much remember.  I do recall that is where I was introduced to the Book of Revelation and had to find a minister to talk to about it all.  I was 12.  I guess my Jesus in the Temple moment.   I don't recall the answers.  AT 14 I was into the Plain Truth and not eating pork. 

The Apostle David of RCG is having his own Bible Camp in Wadsworth, Ohio somewhere down the road .  Personally I can't imagine the thrill of camp near the intersection of Interstate 76 and 77 going into Akron, but I am sure it will be awesome, overarching and spectacular.  It also will be the time for indoctrination of the young which is why Churches have Bible Camp.  The activities are the hook but the indoctrination is the goal

I spent a summer laying sod on the grounds of SEP in Orr, Minn as a college student.  There was no camp that year due to budget cuts in some crisis that had befallen the work of God.  I think HWA overspent on Steuben and camp had to wait that year.  I remember stenciling sheets with Randal Dick with the number of each cabin and exact bunk so someone could track the sheets to the specific camper should the need arise.  I lasted a couple days and walked away thinking it was the most stupid thing anyone could have come up with.  They were all white, all the same and just wash the damn things.  After washing, some poor kids were going to have to sort them by dorm and bunk.  It was stupid and my first introduction to stupid ideas in the church that I simply walked away from. 

I recall on really nice kid that some staff person caught "touching himself" in the shower.  They were able to get him to admit it and somehow everyone found about it and, typical of my underdog and care taker personality, befriended him and told him it was ok even though now EVERYONE knew the story.  He was mortified and I doubt the experience and humiliation served him all that well in his life. It was the kind of humiliation a kid can never get over or forget. 

"You touched yourself didn't you!  Admit it!"

I think at Scout Camp in the Adirondacks "F Troop" would have said,  "And your point is...?"  But that's not Bible Camp.  Bible Camp Counselors and Administrators can be a bit hard on perceived and youthful offenses Of course they all did and do it too but we'll not get into that. .  I can't imagine getting caught touching anything without permission in Camp Wadsworth or Edmond. 

 "Attention:  All Campers will assemble immediately in the commons...NOW!"

Photo: reedcamp002 | Re-Education Camps album | Troy |

Bible camps have their purpose and am sure there are many that are balanced in their goals for kids.  But most churches are not run like RCG or PCG or by one awesome deluded Apostle or Prophet.  Not once in any Bible Camp I ever attended as a kid did anyone drive onto the grounds where everyone stopped to wave as if Mao or Hitler had arrived.  In the wacky world of you know who, I can't imagine this not being the case.  I recall campers being made to line the road to greet HWA as he drove into camp.  I understand respect and all, but kids remember it this way.

Some campers will be assigned special duties at special times I am sure

Twelfth Bough: last dance

I'm pretty sure Camp Wadsworth will be mostly an inside kinda Camp , at least at first.  Ohio can be pretty darn hot and humid in summer. We know there will be Basketball because that is God's most holy sport of all and will be taught by God's most holy teacher.  The Joshua School of Basketball and Situational Sportsmanship will be awesome. Teens with long hair can attend camp as long as they are excellent basketball players. If  the chosen team is losing, you can stop the game and go home or change the rules a bit to get ahead and then go home.   Once they screw up, get a haircut kid.   

 I've lived in Ohio and can't imagine summer camp in a corn field.  I suppose there will have to be an artificial lake dug to at least feel like camp.  They may have to haul kids up to Cedar Point and Sandusky Bay at least once to give a semblance of freedom to get out into the world and have some fun where other people actually have fun.  I'm sure in time, Apostle David will buy Cedar Point or Sea World in Ohio and turn it into a members only camp patterned after what it will be like in the Wonderful World Tomorrow.  

Many of the rides can be a type of what being an actual member in RCG and lead by the whims and ideas of the Apostle Pack will be like.

Gatekeeper: Cedar Point announces new winged rollercoaster

Cedar Point, Sandusky, Ohio - United States ~ My Travel Manual

Don't get me wrong.  Bible and Church Camp can be fun too.  They have their place if balanced but balance is not something any COG is overly good at yet.  RCG Camp , or maybe called Y.O.U Camp  (Youth Often Under informed), can be a bit too regimented and rigid under the opinions, ideas , ideology and control of a small group of zealots, who in turn, are  under "The One."

Bible study can somewhat narrow in scope.

China ponders closing 'outdated' re-education labour camps - Telegraph

Dress codes can be boring

But Church members and young people, I am sure  will at least  get the opportunity to actually have the hands on opportunity of building their own camp.  Many would give their RIGHT ARMS for such a privilege!

And disobedience and rebellion can be somewhat of a mistake in such a place...

But it's Bible Camp after all and we have to expect some good Old Testament examples of reeducation if not for you at least for your friends to benefit from.

I always read as a kid the great Old Testament stories of "And they stoned her with stones until she was dead," but never realized how insane humans are when it comes to God. If I thought a real God thought this way, it would be a psychopathic God.  This kind of behavior is designed to control the living.  It does not good for the about to be dead types.

At any rate.  Summer is summer camp time and camp can be full of memories that last a lifetime.  Personally, if you are going to send your kids to camp, be wary of Bible Camps.  While I suppose they have their place in a balanced organization, with regards to the COGs, you're not dealing with a balanced organization.  You're dealing with the one man show that decides how everything is going to be done which may dearly test your patience and sanity. What you don't want is your child coming home from any Church Camp with a lifetime of bizarre memories, hurts and anger for your having sent them there.  No matter how well intentioned you may be, send your children to places that are accredited and examined by those who do such things to ensure a positive and rewarding experience.  Don't send them to the Gulag or re-education camps that so many Bible Camps can end becoming.  Your children will not have good memories of either the camp or you as a parent who put them in harms way mentally, emotionally and spiritually, no matter your good intentions. 

You should expose your children to MANY kinds of people and circumstances in life so they can learn to make their own informed and balanced decisions along their own life's way. After all, your being in a COG is proof you got to pick your own journey, for better or worse, against your own upbringing which your own parents may have expected you to stick with and you didn't. 

This is a Summer Camp and this is the goal

The Salvation Army Massachusetts Division: Home

Not this....

Already Perfect: Raylene Ewing, RScP

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Joe Moeller said...

May thee who have not ever touched thyself in the shower , cast the first soap.

Joe Moeller
Cody, WY

Byker Bob said...

The counselors at camp were far more lenient and less brutal with the corporal punishment than were my parents, so I really enjoyed the three summers I spent at SEP as a camper. A goodly number of the students with whom I developed friendships later turned up at Ambassador College.

But there were some negatives. In enough cases to cause concern, students with illnesses or disabilities were thought by the administration to be either goofing off, or laying some sort of con to get out of undesirable activity, like let's say early morning calisthenics and running. I was terrified when an asthmatic camper who had fallen way behind, was commanded under threat of "swats" to stop wheezing, and to keep up with the rest of the group, or when one of my booth mates with a bad case of flu was forced to run the 600 yard run that was the "before" part of before and after testing. Neither was an injured back from waterskiing considered to be worthy of any additional consideration, as another friend found out. The three times a day trek from booth city to the old redwood tabernacle for meals damn near killed him. And, then there was the guy who travelled poorly, somehow becoming very constipated on the bus enroute to Texas. The second day of camp, he saw the nurse, and was given all manner of fruits known to alleviate this sort of condition, as everyone prayed for him for days. Unfortunately, natures call came in the middle of sabbath services, and when he asked his authority-loving monitor's permission to go to the restroom, it was refused. You guessed it! There was a rather explosive accident, and he had to be carried out, thus causing a much greater disruption than there would have been if he had simply been allowed to go to the restroom.

Kids did what kids do. Making out with the fairer sex, and getting busted, smoking, racing motorboats checked out for fishing, hopping a freight train to escape camp, the inevitable shaving cream fights, vicious teasing, stealing ice cream, furtively keeping up with "Satan's" music on the top 40, and there were incidents of amusement with flatulence due to the cafeteria's bad habit of regularly serving up beans.

I think that in many cases, the parents of the campers had unreasonable expectations that if their child could only be exposed to God's ministers, God's counselors, other youth from the church, and God's Imperial Schools students, it would end up being some sort of transformational experience, and in most cases, that just didn't pan out. A lot of duplicitousness was learned, and in many cases, the relatively small number of kids who appeared to have gotten with the program were considered to be "kissies" or rats.

I really can't imagine that indoctrinating teenagers has become any easier in the intervening decades, but to the extent that they enjoy the water activities, archery, hiking, camping, horseback riding, and friendships, it won't be a total waste.


Douglas Becker said...

Arbeit macht frei: Davey's Youth Camps (some may die!).

Head Usher said...

Everyone knows that religious summer camps are just gulags of indoctrination. If, as a parent, it's indoctrination to something you're already indoctrinated with, then it's just "training up your child in the way that he should go." You can dress it up with archery and games, but that's just a pretext for the boring stuff. I bet all the COG kids look forward to going, because they remember the fun stuff, then they get there and remember all the indoctrination, and it's face-palm time. "Oh no!" I forgot about THE ZONE!!!"

Byker Bob said...

They may be gulags, but at SEP, the instructors never got the upper hand. This reversed itself for those later entering Ambassador college, but at SEP, the rebels always ruled!


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head Dennis. As parents we thought we were sendig our kids to a" godly" environment. it was nauseating to discover the experience to be the anthisis of that for one child at such an impressionable age. I'd suggest the scouts!

DennisCDiehl said...

Note: While my writing style has a passive aggressive element to it the intent is to help sincere folk who find themselves seeking meaning , as do we all, in COGs that are less than stellar in their encouragement of inquiry.

A "minister" like Dave Pack hurts people in their journey. While we can kid about it, the "send it in," "pull big triggers," "I mean ten , twenty, fifty or a hundred thousand dollars," "seel your home," "give your estate NOW!" and the abuse of women as having no say in their family finances is simply wrong and borders on criminal.

Perhaps I gave Armstrong and Tkach passes on their own ridiculous self views or enforced theology, but I can't do that anymore. I'd be happy to see others of you write on this blog and encourage others in their journey no matter where they are in it.

Encouragement should actually be encouraging to the one needed encouragement is my view of ministry. There is nothing encouraging or even inspiring about these one man ego centric shows. They are ultimately dangerous to body, mind, finances and spirit. The victims of it call and write me for help and understanding and by nature , I am a helper with tendencies to defend the underdog in an unfair situation.

I don't like what "helpers of their joy" like a Gerald Flurry or a Dave Pack stand for or how they go about pretending to minister. I don't intend to give them a pass on their delusions theological or otherwise.

Ultimately what does it matter? Not much maybe but it helps me process my own experience and perhaps gives a bit of meaning where it is missing in helping others wake up , trust their own instincts and views and set boundries for these vampire theologians to respect or else.

thanks for listening.


Byker Bob said...

Dennis, your second paragraph, IMO, is the takeaway we would all hope that the brave people from Flurry and Pack's groups would glean from visiting here.

Flurryism and Packism are much more extreme than the Armstrongism under which I attended summer camp, and therefore, the potential for permanent damage and setback on journey, is far greater. Those two hosers (as our Canadian friends would say), have reinvented HWA's teachings, amplified them, and have become distorted caricatures, Pharisees' Pharisees, if you will. And they are actually proud of it and point to it as a sign that they are the anointed one.

I think in some ways, the WCG used SEP as an advance screening process for Ambassador College. I know for a fact that files were developed on the campers, because during "work week" I was on the janitorial crew, and charged with dusting the executive offices. While dusting a desk, I became aware of a stack of "swat reports", and though I knew it was "wrong" to read them, my curiosity overwhelmed me. And, I got caught by my crew supervisor, the late John Robinson, who chastised me, but then inexplicably sat down and began reading them himself! We got a good laugh out of one of the reports. Three campers had received swats for "Causing an offensive odor at the movies, i.e. passing gas". The number of swats has faded from my memory, but just imagine having this on your permanent record! I also remember the names of these campers, and I can assure you, they never made it to AC!

Sometimes, it's easy to get caught up in the fun we all have here from time to time, and to forget the very serious predicaments, and horrendous tolls being paid right now, in real time, by the people still "in the system". I appreciate your words today, because they are of a nature where they will help us to refocus!


Anonymous said...

I just talked to my sister who helped set up camp at Loch Lomond.

She said she's glad there were none of those asswipes there who later formed the UCG.