In early October, a number of Chanco “alumnae” gathered for an overnight to reminisce about old times & adventures as well as to celebrate what Chanco continues to mean to so many of us. Most of us who had played at being Director at one time or another were there – starting with the Charlie & Carol Hughes era (represented by Carol) and progressing up to the present. I had the good fortune of following in their footsteps and was succeeded by Bill Taylor who was also present along with Robert Somers, Bill’s successor. Gareth Kalfas, our current (and highly appreciated) Director rounded out our crew and mentioned that there were close to 50 of us registered. Together, we represented almost 50 years of history with this vital diocesan ministry to our children, young people and adults. There were many stories and memories to share which elicited tears and hugs and laughter.
So many lives have been impacted by Chanco through its programs, staff and friendships. Some of my fondest memories are of watching the adventures unfold for my own children in that place – not to mention meeting and marrying my wife, Lee. Many friends I met at Chanco remain in my life 35 or so years later and for that I am truly grateful. And, I know I speak for lots of old campers and staff when I write those words (except the span of years is likely shorter). In addition to the adventures of the camp experience, there were/are also the opportunities to grow in faith which Chanco has always tried to provide. Some of my best memories are of celebrating the Eucharist with a hundred or so kids in the glow of a bonfire and singing songs of faith and love . . . especially if the Holy Spirit was blowing through the trees and sending up a plume of sparks along the way!
Our gathering at the reunion took place mostly in front of the big cross high on the bluff of the James River. On Saturday night, it was party time on the bluff. On Sunday morning, it was worship time. Funny stories, toasts to crazy times, old friends embraced, the bread and wine of the Eucharist, songs of praise and thanksgiving – all were offered at the foot of the cross – as they should be. One of my personal goals has been to write down some of the most poignant and/ or funny stories that I recall over my eight years as Director. Seeing some of the participants in one or more of those escapades has boosted my wish to move forward on that project. So stay tuned and one of these days, you might read about a few humorous adventures from the annals of Chanco. Thanks to all of you who have supported this wonderful ministry of our diocese over the last 48 years. As we draw closer to our 50th year, we are counting on your continuing support and prayers.