Along with duffels full of wet, dirty clothes and an assortment of cuts and bruises, the kids who leave central Michigan's SpringHill Camp every summer take with them a videotaped chronicle of their stay. Shot in the quick-cut style of mtv, the tape documents the standard activities of camp: mud fights, tetherball, tugs-of-war, horses, archery, screaming teenagers, a variety of water sports, and the occasional softball game.
It also depicts a new range of activities: mountain and BMX bikes, a skate park, rappelling, something called a zip line, a winding water slide worthy of an amusement park, dramatic productions, and a rock band complete with what looks for all the world like a mosh pit.
Welcome to the new world of Christian camping.
The setting is familiar. SpringHill, 750 acres of pine trees and lakes, lies just outside of Evart, a town of fewer than 2,000 people close to the center of Michigan's lower peninsula. Every summer 13,500 campers pass through SpringHill (and another 18,300 camp in the fall and spring). They billet in a variety of habitations: a string of cabooses, tepees, a frontier village, covered wagons, a MASH compound, an old military transport aircraft.
Activities abound. The junior-high campers staged a hoedown one evening, complete with a tug-of-war, a bubble gum-chewing contest, potato-sack races, a chance to toss inner tubes, and competitive root-beer belching.
"This is awesome," a camper named Mindy beams. Another says, "I think I'm sick."
At the ropes course, an elaborate web of ropes and poles requiring balance and skill and sheer determination, a counselor shouts encouragement to a sixth-grader. "I can't feel my legs," the climber says frantically, before completing the course to a cascade of cheers. ...1