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Running into the Fall    Printer friendly page

Camp doesn’t have to be just a summer thing

by Corbin Hillam

When my son, Brad, was in high school, he ran cross country. It was very inspirational; my wife and I went to all of his meets. I was even inspired to try running. With the help of my trainer/son, I started down the long road of becoming an adult recreational runner.

What an ordeal! After about three years of training, I was finally ready to begin competing in the local running circuit.

Last summer, I decided to participate in the Garden of the Gods 10-Mile Run near where I live in Colorado Springs. I knew I couldn’t take it lightly. I needed to get into a serious summer training schedule. Every morning, I would get up at 6 and run three to five miles. On weekends, I’d put in one long run.

Even my wardrobe changed. I went from running in old, cotton T-shirts, shorts, and socks to special wicking running gear. Let me tell you, that made all the difference. No more wet, stinky clothes. I even felt faster. Once you’ve “wicked,” you’ll never go back!

Finally, it was race day. The weather was perfect, the crowd was in a party mood, and I was ready. I did better than I thought I would, and, thankfully, I even finished in time to go to church and pray for healing.

But autumn arrived, and my running routine had to change—otherwise I would pretty much have had to start from scratch to get in shape in the spring. It was too dark to run early in the mornings, so I ran a few hours later. Each day got progressively colder, so I went from shorts to running tights, from a T-shirt to long-sleeve shirts. I traded my runner’s tan for a frozen mustache and beard.

One day when I was out running, I thought about how my running schedule isn’t much different from my camp schedule. I prepare all summer for a week at camp in California. I arrange my calendar and get my van ready for the long drive. Of course, I have a great week at camp. Then I come home and return to my normal routine.

But how do I keep the spirit of camp alive as I enter the long Colorado winter? I’ve tried wearing my shorts and camp T-shirts as long as possible, but an early snowstorm usually nixes that idea.

And I’ve learned that you don’t make many friends during Sunday-morning worship when you try to get the congregation to sing a camp song. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve requested “The Banana Song,” only to be shut down with “Lord, I Lift Your Name on High.”

I’ve figured out that, as with running, I need to adjust my “camp training schedule.” It starts with changing my idea of what camp is. Rather than thinking of it only in terms of a great summer experience, I can seek out opportunities to go to a Christian retreat during the fall or winter. I just saw a notice in my church bulletin for the men’s pre-dawn polar bear swim in a local camp’s pond. Not a bad idea!

I think this year it’s time to begin training not only for a winter run, but also for a fall or winter retreat. It’s going to be a great season!

Corb is a Colorado-based freelance artist and author who has been going to camp all his life. He has spoken at camps in the United States and Europe.

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