Letter to the Editor: A Tale of Three Camps

At the end of a narrow country road, there lived a fisherman at his summer camp. He happened to invite his nephew, who was suffering from a severe disease, to spend the summer with him to enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings. At the end of his visit, the boy asked his uncle whether he could give the cottage a name. “Of course,” said the

fisherman. So the boy, in gratitude, named the cabin Camp Happy. That name remains to this day, as does its message of homage to nature, to renewal, to thankfulness for simplicity.

Just beyond the end of this road, in the woods, there once was a Bible camp. All that remains is a small, simple “amphitheater” where the Bible camp residents could receive sermons. This came very close to the manner in which followers received the preachings of Jesus: outdoors in nature, without pretensions, sharing food and enlightenment.

Meanwhile, halfway down that same road, still another camp came into being: Camp Zion. It offered an opportunity for children to enjoy the beauty of the natural surroundings while learning Christian values. 

When zoning came into effect, the camp, finding itself in a residential neighborhood, was allowed to continue as long as it remained in its present state. For a time, this camp and the homeowners along the road coexisted peacefully, enjoying the sounds of small groups of happy children.

However, in time, Camp Zion became ambitious. It proposed to close off the shared road. It expanded its clientele and their secular activities. It planned a trailer park. Its original capacity was increased. The neighborhood, by now dismayed, was galvanized when the camp proposed a large, multistory “gathering place” in its meadow.

Door County determined that Camp Zion’s resort-like proposal was inappropriate for its residential neighborhood and therefore denied a permit. After much legal maneuvering and construction without a permit, the camp, driven by ambition, is applying again, not remembering how Jesus managed: under the sky on a hillside. Camp Happy’s simple, but profound message prevails.

Jim Maronek
Ellison Bay, Wisconsin