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Tales from Kanakuk Kamp

You may not know this about me, but I like a challenge. When someone says, “That is the hardest (fill in the blank)” then I want to try it. Why? Because I like the attention that it brings. For some reason I think that I am a Ricky Martin type trapped in a Football players body. I was meant to be dancing around on stage in butt-hugging jeans and open chested versace shirts. I should have girls lined up outside my door hoping just to get a glimpse of my brilliant white smile and my perfectly chiseled face with wonderful cheekbones. Unfortunately, God had other things in mind.

So here I am 29 and I have lived a life that is not as glamorous as Diddy’s or Enrique Iglesias’, but I have been granted a wonderfully blessed life filled with opportunities that I wouldn’t trade for a penny less than 100,000 bucks.

Here is one such opportunity…

The entire time I was part of the high school youth group at our church I wanted to go to Kanakuk Kamps, a church Kamp outside of Branson, MO. My longing for this glamorous destination did not come from the uber-fun experience that was supposed to be had at said Kamp, but because it was THE Kamp to go to and all the cool kids were going and what pray tell is more important than being cool when you are in high school? However, as fate would have it, Kanakuk Kamps was, and still is, priced way outside of my budget and so I had to live the kamp experience vicariously through the numerous privileged kids that did get to go.

So if you are an inferring type, you can infer from the fact that I didn’t go to Kamp, that I obviously wasn’t cool.

When I graduated High School I became a high school leader in this same youth group that I had been a part of where all the cool kids were spending their blissful summers away at this luxiourous and exotic kamp that I imagined was filled to the brim with celebs and magic shell and hot single christian girls eager to date red-blooded American Christian virgin men. During my time as a high school leader I was asked if I wanted to be a Kamp Kounselor at the heretofore unattainable Kanakuk Kamp – of course I bit onto that opportunity like a pit-bull on a candy-coated 5 year old girl. Only death could keep me from enjoying this once in a lifetime experience.

Work was rescheduled, bills were put on hold, parents were expected to step in and assist and in July of 1999 I made my way to Lampe, MO with multiple pairs of underwear and a buttload of toothpaste and deodorant.

If you recall from the beginning of this story that I like a challenge and so when they asked me what age group I wanted to work with I of course chose the youngest and the most difficult – Tee Pee 1. (I also made up tee pee 1 cheers that I will have to share with you sometime)

At the time I signed up I didn’t realize that they should have named this Tee Pee One to “All Pee in the bed at least once.”

I remember seeing the faces of my first group of kampers. Each one of them had a look of blissful excitement mixed with an ample amount of stark terror. 10 boys all between the ages of 6 and 8, almost none of them had ever spent more than a single night away from their parents. Suddenly they were thrust into the wilderness in a large, white, extremely hot tee pee, with a counselor who in the dark resembled King Kong after a bad acid trip. I actually can’t say I blame them for wetting the bed, and wet the bed they did – but they didn’t stop there…

Two of my kids stood out from the rest. They were brothers ages 6 & 7. They had enormous orbs for eyes that were blue like cobalt and when you coupled those eyes with their large odd shaped heads then it was easy to imagine that these kids were the spawn of some otherworldly alien and that at any minute they might point to the sky with an illuminted finger and ask to phone home.

The younger of these two boys was still wearing diapers and his parents asked me to try to keep it as private as possible so as not to embarrass their son. I was happy to oblige and I took it upon myself to make sure that all feelings remained intact while they resided under my tee pee.
The thing about little boys and kamp is that after a couple of days of playing together, eating together, and showering together, nothing embarrasses them much…

One morning I awoke and found the younger of the two Lilliputian aliens standing buck-nacked next to his bunk with his diaper around his ankles. Sleep doing its best to keep its grip on me I wondered if I was dreaming, to my dismay I was not.

PJ, the little aliens name who I must admit I had grown extremely fond of, had apparently crapped his pants during the night. That’s right I said CRAPPED. HIS. PANTS. He looked at me and said, “Eddie, LOOK!” He pointed to the soiled huggies in a heap at his feet. PJ’s tone was not one of embarrassment or shame, it was one of indignant disgust. He pointed at it again and said, “LOOK!” as if some devil of doody had snuck into his shorts and left a present in his britches. My eyes I am sure grew as big as the saucers that had probably escorted this boy to earth. Still slightly shocked out of my gourd I just stared at him and then finally I said, “Step away from the diaper, slowly.” This boy had dropped a bomb quite literally and I didn’t want to have to deal with any repercussions from this weapon of mass destruction.

Grabbing a towel and some soap and in the most encouraging voice I oculd muster I told PJ, “Come with me to the showers, we’ll get you all cleaned up.” I marched his naked little but down to the showers which were about 50 feet away. He walked arrogantly and with pride as if he was bedecked in the most royal of robes. I couldn’t help but think of “The Emperors new clothes”.

I adjusted the water temperature sufficiently and instructed him to thoroughly scrub himself repeatedly until he was clean as a surgeons hands just before surgery. When he was sparkling clean I wrapped him in the towel and he smiled at me the most amazing smiled that said, “I love you”. My heart leapt and for a fleeting moment I knew what it felt like to be a dad.

I took him back to the Tee Pee only to find that another kamper was dealing with a case of Pizza Bumper… but that story will have to wait for another day.

By Evan Stark

Eddie Renz is an avid fan of Egyptology, Wilbur Smith and bacon. Not a fan of humility but often finds himself humbled when he is around people who understand numbers like the Fibonacci sequence and Pi.

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