There is a special place in the mountains of South Carolina that is dear to my wife and me.
Asbury Hills United Methodist Camp lies beneath the gaze of Caesar’s Head just off U.S. 276. It was there that my wife and I worked in the summers during our college years. And it was there that we met.
The rest, the saying goes, is history.
I spent the summers after my freshman, sophomore and junior years as a counselor there. For $20 a week, I had the responsibility of a cabin full of boys 24-7 for five days.
After I graduated from college, I went back to Asbury Hills for a weekend to visit old friends and I first met Mary Lou.
My opening line was not as suave as I would have liked. I mistook her for a camper and asked when her parents were coming to pick her up. Oops!
Somehow she overlooked all the bumbling of my courtship and took me as her husband.
As our children grew up, we sent them to Asbury Hills in the summers as long as they had an interest in going. One of our daughters worked as a counselor there one summer.
The story of Asbury Hills and how our family started there is still a topic of conversation with us. And this week that subject is a bit more on the front burner of our minds.
All four of our grandchildren went to camp at Asbury Hills this week – the first time all four have been able to go.
While the 1,800-plus acres of land in the South Carolina mountains is identical to what Mary Lou and I hiked through, much is different today from our camp counseling experience.
First of all, the cabins are quite different. Today’s cabins are air-conditioned, they each have their own bathroom facilities and plenty of room.
When Mary Lou and I worked at Asbury Hills, the cabins were structures made of cinder blocks on three sides and a screened front.
The wash house was a couple of hundred yards away through a winding path in the woods, making nighttime visits a bit dicey.
With only a flashlight to aid our sleepy vision, we saw the thousands of roots weaving back and forth across the path as so many snakes.
The only air conditioning we had was what God provided in gentle breezes.
Our main activities consisted of hiking the beautiful mountain trails, swimming and canoeing in the lake, playing in the chilly water of Matthews Creek, sleeping under the stars, cooking out and doing Bible studies with our campers.
I’ve seen pictures this week of what our grandchildren are doing. While there is some hiking and playing in the creek, they get to do their swimming in the large pool that was built years after my last summer there.
They get to go on zip lines and rope courses. There is a climbing wall for those brave enough to climb the heights.
There are archery and crafts and music. And there are other games that I am not knowledgeable enough to describe.
The Asbury Hills that I knew has morphed into one that is more in tune with the lives of 21st-century kids.
While I sometimes long for the days of old and the way things were, I realize that in this life, we must move on.
Remaining static is one sure recipe for extinction. We as people, we as institutions must adapt or perish. Asbury Hills has chosen to move ahead.
So I look forward to talking to my grandchildren and see camp through their eyes in this relatively new century.
Mary Lou and I will remind them of our time there, of course, but we will be more eager to hear about their tales of camp and see Asbury Hills from their point of view.
As we get older we can choose to view life through a rearview mirror, constantly describing all the things that have passed.
Or we can look out the windshield of our lives, constantly looking ahead at what is approaching and checking behind only occasionally. That is what I hope to do.
Bring on the zip line!
Jeff Wallace is a retired editor of the Aiken Standard.