Ode to Blue Lake

Published 1:13 am Saturday, May 29, 2010

One February night in the late 1970s, my husband and I were among an overflow crowd at Blue Lake Camp near Andalusia.

The event was a workshop led by well-known Methodist evangelist Dr. Arnold Prator.

A blustery wind ripped at our clothing after the chapel service. Husbands and wives parted and made their way to their cabins.

The heat was on when my cabin-mates and I entered, but the wind raged and filtered through the jalousie windows.

Shivering, we quickly changed into our night clothes and robes and went straight to bed.

A lone blanket didn’t ward off fingers of wind slashing into the cabin.

I rolled into a knot to keep my icy feet inside my robe. I could have been in my warm bed at home 17 miles away.

It was too late, though. I had no idea where my husband’s cabin was.

I finally drifted off to sleep. The next morning during first assembly, a man raised his hand to speak.

“I make a motion that we take up a collection to air condition those cabins,” he said.

We roared with laughter.

A few days ago, I sat in that same chapel with several women chatting with the vivacious camp director, Phyllis Murray.

I was with members of the Ruby Anthony Circle of United Methodist Women and our guests.

Upon our arrival, we enjoyed a refreshing cup of water from a pretty container layered with ice and sections of citrus fruit.

An assortment of baked goodies, including the famous Blue Lake cinnamon rolls, sat beside it.

Phyllis led us on a tour of the main building that houses the offices, guest rooms, meeting rooms, gift store, kitchen, and dining room.

We had an opportunity to walk around the campus to see the Olympic swimming pool and the dormitories that replaced those breezy youth cabins like the ones we slept in. We admired the well-kept grounds and enjoyed the beautiful view of the lake. During a delightful luncheon, Phyllis spoke about current activities and future plans for the facility.

She told us that many people had shared Blue Lake experiences with her since her arrival a year ago last May. That February night popped in my head. Despite the cold, my husband and I enjoyed Dr. Prator’s workshop and came away spiritually uplifted. In the years to come, we attended more workshops, had a weekend retreat for two churches on a charge my husband served, and participated in numerous Wesley Heirs retreats for retired ministers and spouses of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.

Blue Lake camp bustles with activity. Varieties of youth camps are scheduled for the summer as well as retreats, workshops, conferences, special family events, and in early fall, a camp for the blind and visually impaired. Phyllis said there were even plans for a gathering of couples who met their spouses at Blue Lake. Use of the facility is not limited to United Methodists.

For many, a visit to Blue Lake offers a mountain-top experience.