I know the old saying – ”You can never go home” – and I understand the concept.  However, for this Indiana boy, I came pretty close to doing just that this past week at Woodland Bible Camp’s Senior Citizens Week in Linton, Ind.

     I am Carl Witten, and I grew up in the Sellersburg Children’s Home in Sellersburg, IN from 1957 to 1967.  During the summer, they encouraged us to attend church camp; so, in 1965 and 1966, my Junior and Senior years in High School, I attended Woodland Bible Camp as both a counselor (Jr High week) and a camper (Sr High week).  It was a wonderful experience, and I made many friends, heard some wonderful speakers and made many wonderful memories.

    But, little did I know then, that I would be returning to that camp 54 years later – once again as a camper, but this time for Senior Citizens Week (as in old folks). And, the really extraordinary thing was that a few of the people I met had also been campers there those many years ago as well (maybe not the same years) and some of the speakers this week were ones that I had listened to 54 years earlier.

     It was a wonderful week of fellowship, singing, encouragement, renewing old friendships, meeting new friends, and enjoying hearing others’ stories of the journeys that God had led them on through the years.  As it turned out, many remembered me from years before, even though we had not been in contact for all those years.

     During the week we received some very edifying teaching from some wonderful speakers that I had considered my spiritual heroes as a young camper – Julius Hovan, Ray Naugle, Howard Loveland, Buford Smith, to name a few – and we had some wonderful singing led by friends I had known from SCC years before – Ron Flora, Joe Overman, Jerry Carmichael.  I had always enjoyed singing in groups – duets, trios, quartets, etc. – and I had the privilege of filling in as a Bass for a women’s quartet (when one of their members was missing) and singing Tenor in a male quartet (although Joe Overman was not there that night to sing the high tenor, so I tried it – and I must apologize to all the altos for messing up so badly – it has been years since I had tried to sight-read the alto line – and I’m afraid I didn’t do so well) – but everyone extended me much grace – and I totally enjoyed singing with an a Capella group again.

     I want to express my appreciation to all who made the week possible – Ed Woosley, Brock Borders, Alan & Billye Borders and all the kitchen crew – and others of whom I probably was not even aware. You all made it a very enjoyable week.

     Lastly, I had 2 unexpected events that surprised me.  First, I met 2 people that are related to my sister, Wilma Davis, through marriage.  Ray Naugle (old friend) and Jewell Mellon (new friend) are both related to Wilma’s late husband, Norman Davis.  Second, a new friend, Larry Miles, took me on an afternoon tour of the area surrounding the camp, where we visited 3 churches that I had visited while at The Children’s’ Home nearly 60 years ago.  He took me to visit the Dugger, Linton, and Pleasant Grove Churches of Christ. Although the Linton church had been rebuilt, visiting the Dugger and Pleasant Grove churches brought back many fond memories.

Although God has taken me in a path through various churches and several different sects, I praise God for the good foundational teaching I received in the Church of Christ.  My experiences at the Children’s’ Home, Woodland Bible Camp, SCC camp, and CYE camp in DeRidder, LA, as well as the teachings I received from many of the Church of Christ preachers, solidly established my core belief system and my personal relationship with Jesus.

    So, although they say you can never really return home, my week at Woodland Bible Camp’s Senior Citizens Week came pretty close for this camper, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s event.


                                         Carl Witten currently resides in Elizabeth City, N.C.