BUSH: Church camp and CB radios in the good old days | Columnists

Sometimes your kids force you to tell them to 10-3.

Nothing can bring back the good old days like 30 hours in the car with your wife, two teen sons and a diabetic dog. I swear there are places in southern South Dakota and western Nebraska that have remained untouched for the past 40 years, maybe that’s why those stretches of road bring back memories from that time period.

It was early July and in Oklahoma for a young Southern Baptist, that means a trip (or two or three depending on how many friends you had) to Falls Creek. Each week during the summer, between 5,000 and 7,000 kids would crowd into cabins around the camp and go to religion classes a couple of times a day, church each night and then the late-night emotional debriefing back in the cabin.

In between, we had volleyball tournaments, swam, drank gallons of Icee drinks and pulled great pranks on younger campers or the girls across the cabin.

People are also reading…

Many young Baptists got their first kiss with a sweet little girl from another town there. My nephew met the love of his life there when he was 14. Three kids and 25 years later, things seem to be going pretty well for them.

I stuck to volleyball and prayer because I was such a good kid – that, and no girls wanted to kiss me. What can I say? Some things never change.

Back when we went to Falls Creek, girls had to wear one-piece bathing suits, no shorts were allowed to climb above the knee and the tabernacle was an open-air structure that barely offered shade on those triple-digit, windless, Oklahoma evenings . Sitting there sweating in jeans and a collared shirt was a religious experience – it showed how hot hell might be.

Now, kids pay hundreds of dollars each week to stay in modern cabins with wifi and cold air conditioning and the new tabernacle is a testament to the miracle of HVAC technology.

One of the best things about camp was when you rode in church vans and buses that had CB radios. I hope people remember those. Imagine if your cell phone could only reach people on one channel and only if you were fairly close to them.

We didn’t have every kid watching movies, YouTube videos or TikToks. We fought over who got to talk to the kids in the other vehicles over the CB.

By the time we got to camp, half of us had turned into Jerry Reed and Burt Reynolds in Smoky in the Bandit.

“Watch out for smoky bear and the county mounty.”

Invariably, at some point in the goofy lingo session, one of the drivers would get scared that we were having fun and grab the microphone, squeeze the button and tell us all to “10-3.”

For the non-CB-enthusiasts in the audience, they were not so politely telling us to shut up.

My kids love these stories from the “before times” with video games with terrible graphics and having to stop on the side of the road and put change in a pay phone to call friends. There were no downloaded movies or podcasts to pass the time. We listened to radio stations and did puzzles in a book.

Now, they can talk to friends in video calls over multiple apps and incredible play games all along the way. They don’t even play I Spy or Slug Bug.

What has happened to our culture?

Dawit loves to ask who took care of my pet dinosaur when I was on vacation back then. Blake just shakes his head and turns his attention back to whatever was more interesting on his phone.

In a lot of ways, those really were the good old days. Without social media, the world seemed a little bigger and a little more genuine.

There are some of those memories that I wish had been on Facebook, but for the most part, I’m glad the rest are kept in my mental file cabinet back with the 10-codes to help us talk to each other and truckers we encountered on the way to camp.

No matter what your 10-20 is, sometimes things are 10-4 just the way they are.

And sometimes you just need to 10-3 and enjoy the silence.

Kent Bush is the editor of the Rapid City Journal. Reach him at kent.bush@lee.net


Leave a Comment