One of my favorite parts of the 1979 Steve Martin movie “The Jerk” is when he loses his fortune and is leaving his mansion then says he only needs one thing, an ashtray. Then he adds a paddle game, a remote control, a lamp and soon he is stumbling, trying to balance everything.
That’s kind of what it was like this year preparing for the annual family encampment that my church, the Fairfield Church of Christ, sets up at Sierra Bible Camp near Lake Almanor.
Besides the obvious stuff – sleeping bag, flashlight and toothbrush – I kept adding items such as my laptop, iPad mini, external hard drive, my sound system with microphones and mic stands, etc.
The reason I bring a lot of that stuff is because I emcee our nightly campfire sessions, where I read awful jokes off strips of paper that are subsequently tossed into the flames, facilitate skits and games and other stuff before we gather around the campfire for a devotional.
Still, even if I didn’t do that, I am not one of those people trying to get brownie points for roughing it. When camping, I believe in roughing it . . . smoothly. In fact, I think I deserve kudos for going without Facebook for a few days.
Sierra Bible Camp itself has smoothed some of the rougher edges that it had when I went there as a teenager. They now have a paved basketball court, a high falutin’ dishwasher for the food trays and recently installed a retractable projector screen in the dining hall.
They also upgraded the camp PA system, which is great because it consistently works, but unfortunately it now lacks the ability to tailor where you want announcements to go. So I could not play my Horrible Singer Playlist (featuring William Hung) for morning stragglers without inflicting it on those already up and at ’em.
I was the sole Raiders fan in a sea of 49ers (sorta-when-they-are-winning) Faithful. The ring leaders were Louise Hanner and her grown daughters Dallas Madariaga, Samantha Lindholm and Joy Carlton.
Now, I have been wearing my Raiders poncho and Raiderizing my cabin for years at camp and sure enough copycat Niners fans are just now catching up. Louise even made Dallas a Niners poncho this year. Sigh. Couldn’t they at least have done a search on Google for the word “originality?”
Last year I ran my Raiders flag up the flagpole. This year, they of course copied me, using a Niners flag. It took two tries to get it to the top because the first time Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman came outta nowhere and slapped it away at the last second.
I was flabbergasted when their Niners flag came up missing and they considered me the prime suspect. When I later cleared my name by retrieving the wretched flag from the real culprit – a wayward panda that had scaled the flagpole and taken it – they didn’t believe me.
Later, I was doodling at the craft table and having deep, meaningful conversations about superheroes with some of the kids and one informed me that my truck had been TP’ed. I went outside and sure enough there were Niners-colored ribbons on my Ford Ef One Fiddy (nicknamed The Raidermobile).
The Niners contingent, whose cabin was a mere 75 feet from my truck, proclaimed their innocence about the vandalism. Dallas even chuckled that perhaps ‘Tony the Bear” had done it.
I’ll have the last laugh, however, as the Plumas County Sheriff’s Department is now reviewing surveillance video taken by a community-minded squirrel.
Speaking of rodents, the talk of camp were the bats. I know they eat a massive amount of insects and are helpful, but they are also gross flying vermin. A bat colony has resided in the rafters of the living quarters attached to the dining hall for years.
Niners fan “Big G” Reed’s whole cabin deserted him when they learned a bat was present, but he stayed and earned my respect. Since I am Batman, who wears black and is thus obviously a Raiders fan, next year Big G can be my sidekick Robin, who sports Niners colors.
I’ll need him to practice saying “Holy Bats, Batman!” which, since it is a Bible camp, is wholly appropriate.
Reach Fairfield writer Tony Wade at [email protected].