A Summer Day at the Beach
Our early June issue of Letters from CAMP Rehoboth had only been on the streets for a few days when Steve noticed the empty Letters’ box in the CAMP Rehoboth courtyard. As he refilled it, a man in the courtyard commented that in the summertime he liked lighthearted reading materials, and he questioned why so many of our writers covered serious subjects during this time of year.
Steve had a further short discussion with him and later mentioned the incident to me in passing. I didn’t think much about it at the time, but the story stuck in my mind, primarily because we are living in serious times and we do need relief from them on occasion—and especially while enjoying a summer day at the beach.
A summer day at the beach!
For most of us, not locally born and bred, the promise of a summer day at the beach was precisely the reason we ventured to Rehoboth in the first place. The same was true for the founders of Rehoboth Beach.
Back in 1871, Rehoboth founder, the Rev. Robert W. Todd, a Methodist Episcopal minister from St. Paul’s Church in Wilmington, came to the Delaware shore looking to find the place he had dreamed about: a beautiful beach to build a summer church camp. That year he purchased 414 acres of Delaware coastland and named it Rehoboth. By 1873 the Rehoboth Beach CAMP meeting association of the Methodist Episcopal Church was established.
The original camp, called “the encampment grounds,” was located in west Rehoboth, but once the railroad came to town in 1877 the camp meeting site was moved closer to the beach, along Baltimore Avenue.
Today, of course, the only camp still in existence in town, is our own CAMP Rehoboth, located right where we need to be—and apparently, based on the history of Rehoboth Beach, right where we belong. I find that thought to be oddly comforting—like the feeling one gets upon returning home from a long trip abroad.
I’ve always felt that way about Rehoboth Beach, and the very first time I came here, something settled deep in my soul, and I recognized it in a way that had nothing to do with reasonable thinking. The same thing was true for me the very moment that I first met Steve, 39 years ago this September. Both moments belong in a rare category of human experience that feels absolutely right when it occurs.
Life might be easier for us if that happened on a more regular basis. Then again, if it was nothing more than an ordinary experience, I’m not sure we would even pay attention to it.
The truth is, life is complicated, our world is complicated, and our choices are not always easily understood. We wrestle with politics, with religion, with relationships, with changing mental and physical capabilities, with the constantly evolving society and culture around us. Media sweeps over us in a tidal wave of entertainment and news that increasingly become harder and harder to distinguish one from the other.
Is it any wonder that all we want is a summer day at the beach?
Beach resort communities exist all over the world because there is something restorative about being in the presence of water and waves, sand and sun.
At the conclusion of the CAMP Rehoboth cruise back in February, a group of us continued on to Bali. Even though we had been on vacation for a couple of weeks already, our trip had been far too exciting to get much rest. On the first night of our arrival in Bali, I stood outside our hotel watching the sunset over the water. Closer to the water than where I was standing, our traveling companions stood among tall palm trees, in silhouette against the brilliant sunset colors. I took a few inadequate photos at the time, but mostly just stood and watched the rapidly shifting light in the sky and on the water—and my soul rested.
Resort communities, as I have said from my earliest writings for CAMP Rehoboth, are by their nature, crossroads. Visitors travel on a regular basis to visit from all over the country and the world—and that is our strength, our economy, our future residents and members, and the diversity so vital to creative communities everywhere.
As an organization we have always understood and benefited from the influx of visitors who come to us as summer residents, second home owners, or weekend and occasional vacation visitors. Visitors and part-time residents turn into members, donors, sponsors, and volunteers—and enhance our talent pool for all kinds of activities, committees, and events.
From its earliest days, CAMP Rehoboth has worked to provide a safe and welcoming community for all. We’ve worked as an organization to meet the needs of the wide variety of visitors and residents who come to us for information, resources, guidance, and support.
On the surface, a summer day at the beach, is just that: a relaxing day, a good memory. A deeper look, however, reveals the community behind it, and the love, commitment, and care it takes to make that good day possible.
Happy summer, and may we all find a good day at the beach—whatever that means for each one of us.
Murray Archibald, CAMP Co-founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach. Email Murray. Photos: Rehoboth Beach and sunset in Bali, Indonesia.