Fall, Fun and Fellowship

Zachary Wilkinson / BCM President

You are lying in a cool green meadow dotted with yellow flowers. A brilliant blue expanse of sky is  stretched from one end of the horizon to the other above you. Rolling hills surround you, laced with changing fall colored trees of each autumn shade. You’re able to lay back, close your eyes, and hear nothing but the sounds of a pick-up football game going on and the barks of a distant dog.  The town is Abingdon, Va., and there’s not a single sign of school anywhere.

There is no need to check emails, update your Facebook status, or even plan that cross-country flight in a Cessna. You my friend, must be on Fall Break!

Members of Baptist Collegiate Ministries (BCM) spent their Fall break on a retreat to the lovely states of Virgina and Tennessee with First Baptist Church’s Axiom College Group. On the evening of Thursday, Oct. 16, 40 college students from Embry-Riddle, Bethune-Cookman University, and Daytona State gathered at First Baptist Church to load up on a shiny purple coach. The Bags were packed, bikes loaded, and coolers filled with food filed away. The bus would drive through the night to its destination. The group was excited and adventurous. We were ready for the great getaway that lay ahead at the end of a long trip on Interstate 95.

The Bus arrived just before Sunrise on Oct. 17 at Beulah Land Bible camp; the classic style of camp that resembles a million others dotting the U.S. Wooden bunks lined the  sleep room, lovingly decorated with scribblings of hearts, the occasional ‘Joe was here’, and blacked out obscenities that make them unique.  Outside the bunk-room door and down a crisp concrete walk was a bathroom with patchwork stalls and spotted colors of dripped paint on the floors from a dozen different shades of wall.

The mess hall sports a foot-polished concrete floor, a stack of fold-able steel chairs, and a few eight foot tables. A quaint kitchen with steel pots hanging from the ceiling sits at the back of the building. A cook worth their weight could make anything in that kitchen!

By the time students were settled into their bunks the sun was just rising over the hills on the east side of camp, illuminating the colors of fall and burning away the mist that hid them.

We, college students, were at the camp to get the chance to relax for a weekend; paired of course with Mountain Biking and White water rafting.

Friday was a free day to rest, play games in the green yard behind the camp, and walk through the hills of the countryside. Many played football, soccer, lawn golf, or just read books. Not a single meeting took place, meal plans were not spent, and no group projects were worried about. Delicious meals were cooked by two  our wonderful leaders; Dianne White and Janice Huffstickler. Their husbands Don White and Todd Huffstickler provided close support and helped wherever needed. Frank Reynolds and his son Wyatt also joined us and helped keep control of us college students.  We were served three square meals a day, and all better food than a college student is accustomed to.  We are blessed so much by our leaders! They have a passion to minister to college students.

That afternoon we took a ride out to the South Holston dam. A hydroelectric dam made in the 1940’s and managed by the historic Tennessee Valley Authority. South Hoslton is one of the largest Earthen dams in the world.

That evening brought us together to study the word of God, taught by our pastor Lowell Lucas. First we  sang songs together and made a joyful noise to the Lord, even if it wasn’t platinum record quality singing. In the lesson we discussed setting guardrails in one’s life to avoid straying down the wrong paths. It was of great relevance to the type of driving we did while there: On a mountainside highway, the guardrails are there to keep you from falling over the dangerous drop. In just the same was a follower of Christ must create guardrails in their life to avoid the wrong path.

Saturday was the day of the Mountain biking trip. A short bus ride to nearby Damascus, Va. brought us to the Creeper trail; a 17 mile downhill ride along the path of an old railway line. Forty of our brave students mounted bikes and sped down the mountain. Stops were made to admire stunning overlooks, take selfies in front of pumpkin patches, and jump into the icy river flowing along the path. No one was injured too severely. And at the halfway point we stopped into a small town where the owners of the Bible camp brought us lunch: Fried chicken, baked beans, and the best desserts you could imagine; prepared by Margie Harmon. Tired college students returned to camp for another night of Scripture study and song singing. After the time of study and discussion was time for the oldest of camp traditions: a bonfire with s’mores. The warmth of the fire was comfortable amongst
the cold fall air.

The next morning we packed up for home and departed the camp. We made  a necessary stop in Ocoee, Tennessee for White water rafting of course. Some students sprung extra dollars for dry gear and splash jackets, while others braved it with bathing suits and slick t-shirts. White water was encountered, and some fell overboard into the rushing water.  Everybody had  fun. And again, there weren’t and serious injuries.

Once we returned from rafting it was time to hit the road back to Daytona, via Atlanta, Ga.  for a trip to The Varsity for a famous hamburger or Slaw Dog. The Varsity is a fast food restaurant tucked into Downtown Atlanta and bordered by the Highway and Georgia tech University. Thousands of people pass through each day. They  also serve more Coca-Cola from their restaurant than anywhere else in the world.  Three DVD movies later and we were pulling back into the Church parking lot around 1:30 a.m. College students walked tiredly with their bags, blankets, and suitcases back to frosted cars for the drive home to bed. The Fall retreat is a 4 year tradition.  We are very thankful for our wonderful leaders who dedicated their time to travel with us, cook for us, and plan this wonderful trip each year. We couldn’t go without them.Why not join us next year for Fall Break? You won’t regret it!