• Lacing a belt of green and yellow gimp in crafts class
  • Trips to the snack shop for an orange Nehi
  • Bible study on the rocks, girls like us with braids, some with prayer caps

These are my sharpest memories of Girls’ Week at Laurelville Mennonite Camp just off the Pennsylvania Turnpike not far from Pittsburgh, PA. along with . . .

  • Cottages with cute names like Dew Drop Inn
  • Toasting marshmallows around a fire pit
  • Singing rounds, our voices echoing each phrase: “My paddle’s keen and bright, flashing with silver, follow the wild goose flight, dip, dip, and swing”
  • “Do, Lord, oh, do Lord, oh do remember me wa-ay (big voice dip here) be-yond the blue.”

What we didn’t do at Laurelville:

  • Set fire to the boys’ swim trunks hanging on the line (There were no boys)
  • Paint each other’s toenails hot pink. (No one had makeup – verboten)
  • Sneak a smoke in the woods after dark. (We didn’t have matches – or cigarettes!)

The postcard I sent to my sisters from Laurelville reveals the price of postage stamps, an address that winds around the edge in cursive script, and simple declarative sentences. It also tells how I felt, what I saw, where we worshiped.


Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp

Postcard with rhododendron sent from Laurelville Mennonite Camp in 1953

Memories of family week with my sisters and parents at Laurelville left a different imprint.

  • Family swim time
  • Doggie roast (Hot dogs, corn on the cob and roasted marshmallows)
  • Big plaque on dining room wall: “Come ye apart and rest awhile” Jesus’ invitation to his disciples in Mark 6:31
  • Morning blessing in song: “I owe the Lord a Morning Song” written by Amos Herr, Lancaster County pastor and farmer who couldn’t get through the snow drifts to church one Sunday morning in the 1850s and was inspired to pen both words and music to this song of gratitude. First two stanzas here:

I Owe Lord Morning Song

We also sang something new to us: How Great Thou Art, a Swedish hymn written in 1885, which became an instant sensation in Christian circles in 1955 because of the Billy Graham Crusades.

When through the woods and forest glades I wander, I hear the birds sing sweetly in the trees; when I look down from lofty mountain grandeur and hear the brook and feel the gentle breeze.




What are your memories of camp? Here’s the place to share them – songs, games, mischief – other memorable moments.


Coming next: Creation Clips