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OPINION: The Rules Committee

by Graham Thomas | June 22, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.

Early in the history of Bogg Springs, the powers-that-be decided that there should be a group formed each camp week to oversee camp activities and prevent any improper or inappropriate behavior. Thus was born the infamous "Rules Committee," the bane of many a 10-year-old wanting to play in the creek or a 14-year-old wanting to hold hands with his new girlfriend.

Now, many of the regulations Rules Committees tried to enforce were based in common-sense rationales. "Don't chunk rocks," would have been one with obvious implications. "Don't play in the creek," would have been another. (I had seen cotton-mouths as big around as my arm in that creek.) Even imposing restrictions on PDA -- public display of affection -- was rooted in the need for proper decorum and conduct. (And, of course, reining in those raging teen hormones that are the root of all evil.)

Most Rules Committee members were winsome and easy-going, realizing that they were at summer camp, and that having a good time was one of the primary objectives. They wanted kids to return, and knew that campers who left after a bad experience were unlikely to do so. Those adults also knew that those kids would be returning to local churches, and youth workers would be handicapped trying to sell the Gospel to kids who had encountered a "Summer Camp Nazi" who claimed to be a model Christian.

Yes, some Rules Committee members took their job -- and themselves -- way too seriously. And that reality was a constant source of conflict during some camp weeks.

Case in point: One Monday afternoon I was working in the concession stand. I had to meet someone in the tabernacle -- the worship center -- to practice on a song they were supposed to sing that night. I couldn't tell if that person was over there, so I broke out a pair of binoculars we had in the stand and took a look. But suddenly, all I could see was a single, out-of-focus eyeball.

I lowered the binoculars. I was looking into the face of a Rules Committee member. I remember his face. I remember his name. I remember where he was from. I remember that he had a demeanor that could best be described as "prickly."

He was a person who seemed perpetually ill-tempered, and I had just attracted his attention.

"Put the binoculars away, son," he said. What I heard was, "Put the binoculars away, you little deviant."

"Yes, sir," I responded.

I could have tried to explain, but I knew it would be useless. He had already marked me as a trouble-maker. And for the rest of the week every time I saw him he was giving me the "stink eye."

Now that guy was an exception. But he was one of the reasons Rules Committees got a bad rep. And also that over time they lost their prestige and their power.

Tune in next week for a legendary story of a power-hungry Rules Committee, and the perfect foil for their ambitions.

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