In the summer of 1995, the summer after the strike, the summer after the year there was no World Series but I own a 1994 World Series baseball, I worked at Logan Valley Christian Retreat near Ellington, Missouri. For years, my youth minister took my youth group to Logan Valley to get away from the crazy busy-ness of life, to find quiet time for rest and reflection and renewal and recreation. I liked Logan Valley for the high ropes course experiences, the amazing food — burgers and steak and desserts — and the phenomenal staff. I can’t believe I thought pre-cell-phone-no-home-internet-no-laptop-no-kids life was busy in 1995.
That summer of 1995, there weren’t any campers scheduled over the July 4th holiday, so Dave took the summer staff on a day trip to St. Louis. I am almost positive that trip is the only St. Louis Cardinals game I’ve ever attended in St. Louis. Of course, I’ve seen the Royals beat the Cardinals multiple times in Kansas City. And, maybe, I’ve seen the Royals lose to Cardinals multiple times in KC as well. In 1995, however, the Cardinals weren’t that great and especially so that day. Some guy named Martinez was pitching for the Expos and shut them out.
For thirty summers now, Dave and his family have served campers at Logan Valley without sickness or injury, which I think is nigh miraculous. They have facilitated team-building experiences on the low ropes course and challenged kids to step out of comfort zones on the high ropes course, rock wall, and zipline. Dave and his family have made considerable sacrifices to live in the middle of the Mark Twain Forest and create a sacred space where kids of all ages can hear the invitation of Jesus to live into God’s Great Story.
Two weeks ago, Sophie and Jamie went to Logan Valley with the youth group from our church for camp. Jamie came home last Friday; Sophie stayed to work on staff for another week — washing dishes and fixing meals and cleaning cabins and going on float trips and learning how to make all the desserts. Jamie and I made a day-trip out of the 175-mile (one-way) journey to bring Sophie home.
Sophie greeted us with hugs and smiles and I am positive she’s grown at least an inch in the last week. Dave greeted me with a hug and his glove and an update of the Cardinals score.
Now the hottest day of 2018 at 100 degrees with a heat index of 110, Dave and I walked outside the kitchen and through the natural amphitheater. We played catch on what used to be the softball field.
“It’s been quite some time since I’ve played catch,” he said with a grin.
Dave then told me the story of when he knew something was wrong with his shoulder. He was playing with his dog in St. Louis and picked up a tennis ball and threw it.
“I felt it immediately,” he said.
That is a fear of mine this year, that I’ll throw a ball, feel a tear or hear a pop, and I’ll be moved to the disabled list without a replacement.
After that incident, still determined to be around the game, Dave’s softball career took off. At one time, he pitched for three different teams. Although I was a pitcher in high school, there is no way I could pitch in softball. I value my knees and shins and face too much and don’t trust my reaction time at all.
We loaded up Sophie’s stuff into the back of the Millennium Falcon, said good-byes, and took off on the dirt road and up the hill past the graveyard. Thirty minutes later, we were in the middle of a storm with dime-to-nickel sized hail exploding on the windshield. I was convinced I’d be calling Stephen (Day #139) tomorrow.
Thankfully, the hail ceased. The windshield survived.
Sophie fell asleep as soon as we hit the highway. I can’t wait to hear her stories of serving at Logan Valley.