The Happiest Place On Earth

by Tom Larkin – Union church of Christ, Somerville, AL

Even though another place claims the designation, “the happiest place on earth,” there is no doubt that Indian Creek Youth Camp is a place filled with happiness and joy. Its setting in the hills of central Alabama is peaceful and tranquil. Its facilities have a pleasant familiarity to those who come each summer. Of course, once inside that gate, joined by scores of vibrant, young campers, its peace and tranquility is quickly transformed into energetic activity. Turning into that front gate gives one the feeling of coming home.

Such feelings are not evoked by a tranquil setting or a familiar cabin – or even the activities that accompany a camp session. The sense of joy and family that fills one’s mind as he enters the camp is due to those who roam its hills and fill its cabins. When we are at Indian Creek youth Camp, we are one big family. We come from many varied places, but we share a like precious faith – and we share a love for Indian Creek Youth Camp.

In some ways it is a “love at first sight.” I remember the first time we drove into the camp. Only weeks away from my graduation from Freed-Hardeman, my wife and I, along with our infant daughter were visiting with Pervie Nichols, who preached for the Midway congregation in Jasper. He loved the camp and wanted to show it off. The Gus Nichols pavilion was new – the pool had just been installed. And he truly believed that the camp was on the verge of doing great things. Little did we know at the time that we would still be making that trek to ICYC each summer!

As I look back over the past 35 years since we first drove onto the grounds, I have no doubt that brother Nichols was right – the camp has done great things. It has been a force for good in the lives of thousands and  its contribution to the kingdom is immeasurable this side of eternity. Great changes have taken place during these years. Facilities have been improved and many others have come on board to make the camp an even better place, but the camp’s sense of family remains strong.

And that “love at first sight” grows and matures over time. Indian Creek Youth Camp has a way of capturing your heart and becoming a part of your family. Your thoughts are never far from the events that fill its summers and you cannot wait until it is camp time again. And as time goes by, that love for ICYC is passed on to the next generation and the next. To our three daughters and six grandchildren, ICYC truly is an extension of home and family. I am thankful for what ICYC has meant to me and my family and I pray that ICYC will continue to be an important part of our lives for years to come.