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OPINION: Life an exercise in improvised adaptation

by By Doug Chastain | June 15, 2022 at 5:25 a.m.

Last week I recounted a story about my time as a staff member at a summer camp in southwest Arkansas called Bogg Springs. Before I became a staff member there, though, I was a camper. And as a camper, I had some "shower experiences" that were nearly as interesting as the "shocking" one I related in that earlier column.

Early in its history, the bunkhouses at Bogg Springs were serviced by a single 40-gallon hot water heater. Needless to say, a bunkhouse with 30 or 40 campers would empty a hot water heater in minutes, much to the annoyance of anyone who might want a shower, but was too slow to be at the front of the line.

I remember being awakened early in the morning at the Bogg, not by the playing of "Reveille" on the camp PA system, but by the blood-curdling screams of the poor, unfortunate soul who was in the shower when the hot water ran out. The ice-cold spring water for which the Bogg is famous was great to drink on a hot summer day, but wasn't something you wanted hitting you in the face at 7 a.m.

We began to notice an interesting phenomenon as the week progressed at camp. Those people who were "into" morning showers began to get up earlier and earlier each day. (Full disclosure: when I was 12 I would go the entire week without taking a shower, figuring my time in the pool was good enough.) By Friday, some guys would be getting up at 5 a.m. to get a hot shower. (Heaven knows what time the girls/women were getting up.) It was interesting to see what kind of adjustments guys would make to make sure they'd have access to hot water.

Camping, whether in a bunkhouse, camper, or tent, is an exercise in improvised adaptation. There was a time when I relished tent camping, sleeping in the heat, or cold, or rain; listening to wildlife hooting or howling after the sun went down or rummaging through the trash at 3 in the morning. Today, I'd rather sleep in a nice warm bed in a hotel.

And it occurs to me that life itself is an exercise in improvised adaptation.

As I have gotten older, I find myself less tolerant of the changes life throws at me, preferring instead to sit in my comfortable bubble, resolutely avoiding inconvenience and difficulty whenever I can. But guess what? Life doesn't let me, resolutely throwing inconvenience and difficulty at me on a daily basis.

So I look for something that offers peace in the midst of turmoil; tranquility in the face of distress. And I have found it, in the grace and providence of God. Through thick or thin, up or down, there has never been a time in my life that God hasn't taken care of me and my family, sometimes miraculously so. And for that, I will ever be thankful.

Sometimes life hits you in the face with ice cold reality. But the warmth of God's love and grace can relieve that discomfort.

"God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles..." – 2nd Corinthians 1:3-4

-- Doug Chastain is a retired teacher and is currently a large-vehicle transportation specialist for the Siloam Springs School District. (Okay, he drives a bus.) He is also a grass maintenance technician at Camp Siloam. (Yeah, he mows the lawn.) You can contact him at [email protected] The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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