I went camping in the Florida Everglades—once. I was in my teens and part of a very active Royal Ambassador church group. You have to be a Southern Baptist and of a certain age to remember the RA missions program for boys. It was sort of an alternative to scouting for some of us. We went camping in the Everglades as preparation for a cross-country camping trip we would be taking to Washington D.C. that August of 1963.
Alligators, snakes and mosquitoes were all on my mind as we set up our pup tents in a circle around the campfire. We had driven out to a point where our leaders parked their cars and the truck. We hiked through mucky high grass and through some trees and overgrown bushes. We eventually arrived at a clearing that was very dry and flat. As the darkness settled in, we zipped up our sleeping bags and tried to remember that the Lord was with us. As the sun came up, we all got up. Then we heard our leader tell us to all get very still. The men were examining the whole camp site. Then the announcement was made, no snakes in sight, but we had been visited in the night by at least one bobcat that had explored our garbage pile and everything else around us. I did not know I was supposed to worry about bobcats in the Everglades. After camping there, we knew we could face just about anything together.
We traveled from Miami to Washington D.C., camping each night in parks along the way. We stayed in a church basement in Silver Springs, Maryland, and attended the RA National Convocation. President Kennedy was to speak to us but his newborn son, Patrick, died during our time there. The RA Pledge took on new meaning for me during that trip: “As a Royal Ambassador I will do my best: to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christ-like concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body.”
Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Share the journey with others. And let’s experience the love and power of God together.