Words From the Past

Memories of Camp Dixie

Memory is a remarkable gift.  It may be blessed or it may be accursed.  The man who has no happy memories to think and ponder over is a poor man.  The life without pleasant memories of things well done and days well spent is an empty life.

What are your memories of Camp Dixie going to be?  There’ll be many times in the years to come when you’re off at school or college or deeply buried in the business world, when you are going to think again of the days you spent at Camp Dixie.  You won’t be able to shut your mind to these memories and close the door of the past.  In spite of yourself, these thoughts will come crowding in upon you – to bring you happiness or to bring you sadness in their memory.  Ten years from now, what will be your memories of Camp Dixie?

You will remember of course the full program of athletic events – the games and sports that did so much to build your body stronger, the swims and hikes over the old, old hills of the Blue Ridge.

You will remember also the whistle and the lessons it taught you of obedience to authority, and of regularity in your habits.

You will remember other things – the thrills that came to you as you dived for the first time from the high tower; the start of fear you gave as the yell came at the crucial point of a Fu-Man-Chu story; the novel experience of your first Turkish bath; the Horrible Parade with its grotesque and highly amusing characters; the proud sense of achievement you felt when you completed an option on which you had been working so diligently; the long hikes and the minstrel and the annual banquet.

You will remember a night spent on Black Rock when you lay down to sleep with only a blanket between you and the ground, and the great canopy of heaven as a roof.  You will remember how it seemed to you that there were more stars than usual in the heavens on that night and how the moon sank so quietly and yet with such a glorious burst of beauty behind the hill in the distance – how the wind sprang up in the early morning and brought with it a coolness that made you seek the warmth of the big bonfire, and how the mysterious mists filled the valley beneath you, hiding it from view until at last the mists rose like a wandering cloud rushing to meet the newly-risen sun.

You will remember the friendships you made at Camp Dixie, boys whom you had never seen before coming to camp but who had become your warmest friends at the end of two months – tied to you by such lasting bonds of friendship that they could not be broken tho’ many years and much space tried to separate you.

You will remember, too, the Sunday morning services on Chapel Island — when you realized perhaps for the first time in your life how close God is to you –how he speaks to you in the brook that murmured and rippled along at your elbow, and in the mountains that towered in stately but silent majesty there in front of you.  And you will realize that it was at Camp Dixie that you first learned a great truth — that the test of a great church is not the fine building or the beautifully toned organ or the eloquent preacher — but it is the humble devotion of a group of persons whose hearts and minds are bowed in worship to their Heavenly father and whose souls are attuned in harmony with the Great Ruler of the universe.

You will remember also a short period of five minutes out of every night when your leader gathered you and your six tent-mates around him, and in the midst of a reverent silence you read a few verses of scripture, and then prayed from the depths of your heart to your Father — and you will know that in those short tent devotions was laid the foundation of many of your noblest resolves and finest impulses.

All these things and more you will remember. You may forget a great many features of camp life, but these things you will not forget.  They are the lasting things of Camp Dixie.  They alone are what make our stay at camp worth while.  If you are wise, you will treasure the memories of these days — store them up in your mind.

Nor let us forget that memories may be blessed or accursed.  Our memories of Camp Dixie may bring us happiness or sorrow, depending upon the way we lived up to our opportunities at Camp Dixie, and followed in after life lessons we learned here.  Let each one of you take care that the memories you are making for yourself from day to day are happy memories — that will bring joy and pride to you as you look back in later years upon your two months at Camp Dixie.

This editorial is in the nature of the swan-song of the one who has been editor of this paper for seven successive years. To me there comes at this time a veritable flood of memories of you boys and of the happy association at Camp Dixie for the last seven years.  I am sure that these memories will stay with me during the years to come, bringing with them untold pleasure and happiness, as often as they recur to my mind.  It seems to me that the most priceless gift I can take away from Camp Dixie with me is the memory of these things that I have mentioned in this editorial, and for them I shall always owe to Camp Dixie and to you boys a great debt of gratitude.

Dixie Doings, August 5, 1922              Wallace P. Zachary