Remake Summer Basics and Advanced While a Demon was slain....Hoof Prints Prequel to Tales of Dead Armadillo Esteban Erik Stipnieks all rights reserved


The sky was overcast an early March. In the parking lot of St Peter and Paul Dr King was feeling embarrassment. Stephen King had found the combination of buttons to hit that triggered a phenomenal rage and embarrassment of his mother. His terror because he had forgot something should have remembered his raw fear of a fifth grader messing something got him acting irrationally….instead of being cool calm and understanding Dr King went ballistic in the confines of the house while the older sister was gone. Stephen King desperately weaved in terror from the woman madly swinging a shoe not just at his butt. An at attempt to get a clear shot at him Dr King grabbed him her hand slamming against Stephen’s Adam apple as back was against the wood panel wall by the back door. The incident lied buried in Stephen’s mind but the memory acted like acid eroding trust and generating hate… order to heal eventually there memory would have to be unburied the embers of the fire would have to be put out.

Ace unloaded the stuff from his parents car. The three counselors were Brett, Gil and Matthew. Matthew was recognized Brett and Gil were new faces. He made his bunk as he saw his parents leave a feeling of security fell on him. In front of Cabin 4 a cabin mate was plunking on a guitar Rocky Raccoon. Ace saw another old counselor pleased to see him.

Kevin a cabin mate had started singing Rocky Raccoon…..and playing a guitar with skill. Ace sat down on a rock in front of the Cabin while Kevin played guitar sitting on a tree stump that made up some improvised seats in front Cabin 4. There were several large limestone boulders that completed the circle. There were other songs. Talk emerged among the new Cabin mates. One was from Hong Kong….another from Plano one from Fredericksburg two from Alamo Heights. Two were from Corpus Christi. By Dinner Ace had made amends for his own behavior three years previous.

While Ace joined the sing along Tara West was at Kuk. Tara was a sophomore entering Denton High Ryan campus….on the surface the camps were two poles apart. Deeper both camp at the time period had a distinct function within the body of Christ to fulfill. Ace needed to experience the love God and to learn how to lead. His brain needed the challenge of applying scripture to interact with a lost culture. Tara needed the discipline. Ace could role into disciplined mode real easy. Both would share the best of each camp later.

First night meant selecting camp activities for the first week Ace chose weight lifting and fishing. Then cam Round up where Christ’s word was shared. The first night was about the old testament was the for shadowing of New Testament with the marking of corner posts in Egypt with Christ’s blood. Cabin time followed.

LLYC offered curveballs which gently forced the dyspraxic Ace to adapt. This summer instead of rebelling against the curveballs Ace decided to embrace them. The night had a small dance over looking the waterfront. A blend of REM Shining Happy People and classic rock blared beside the river for about an hour and a half. It was not a full dance but a dance none the less. The following morning regular camp activities would begin.

Cabin 4 morning Cabin times were at Tupelo Beach….named for a Van Morrison song that the originator of Cabin 4 antics loved. Van Morrison was dejure for Camp. A Theologian would point to common grace. Between it all Ace was learning to look for biblical themes in music. The beach itself was a mud bank rock jetty into the nearly crystal clear Frio. Two of stone underneath two large trees. The inner circle contained a fire pit the other was seating interrupted by an entrance path and the path the jetty. It was great place to study the word.

The second day of week one a rain shower unusual in the morning in the Texas Hill country hit and a Cabin time morphed into a good ol fashion singing session. The group sang “In the Jungle” Ace forever would remember Brett his counselor on the guitar and zaniness and fun of responding to the curveball. While Denton was about innocence lost Ace was learning or being reminded not all was bad.

Being the oldest campers also meant that they were most experiences. Fishing was something Ace knew about. He had learned to use his fly rod not as a fly rod but as a glorified still fishing rod for the small bait of pill bugs and crickets. By the third day he joyfully unsnagged a couple from getting hung up first at Echo Valley and another place. He had long ago in Boy scouts learned to tie the clinch not and Polmar Knot he rerigged a couple people in a tough situation.

Day 4 was the first day of group games. After four days of spilling guts out to each other and not posing Cabin 4 had developed an implicit trust in each other. Ace had a role the fireball while not being gifted he was by far the most aggressive member of the cabin and would. Cabin 5 boasted the five best athletes in camp. Cabin 4 V Cabin 5 was a mismatch. In the most amazing way it was.

Adam the son of former Austin DA was crafty. The second possession of the flag football game he had figured out who was guarding who and Kevin while not being the most graceful athlete could use some reach and he was lightly guarded. The pass was long the odds making it were long but anything can work…once maybe twice. It worked first score Cabin 4

On defense Cabin 4 found a rhythm Cabin 5 was predictable they had a couple star receivers who had competing egos. Cabin 4 frankly did not care who got the Glory. Ace was the great distraction while Kevin, Adam and Mark quietly did the deeds. Cabin 4 antics were zany side show slight of hand. While Ace sprinted at the quarter back with all the grace of a drunk elephant a dump pass occurred right in front of Adam who deftly intercepted the ball.  In another attempt Ace got a finger tip on the ball and caused a deflection shattering a scoring opportunity for the Cabin.  

The following place Ace had his glory Ace started half hearted route than accelerated drawing the person covering him into a collision course with Mike’s defender. Adam thought there was a possibility Ace could actually catch the ball….not much but Ace was open and Ace while struggling made the Catch. The game ended Cabin 4 three touch downs Cabin 5 1 touchdown. The first game set the pattern Ace was the front man the distraction the decoy a role he would do with panache while eyes were on Ace Cabin 4 was like an anaconda sapping the strength of its rival and despite a total lack of talent winning.  The boys of Cabin 4 knew what each person would do and was capable of doing.  In other words Cabin 4 was a weak hydra but a hydra none the less. 

It was another night the first week of camp coming back from a movie on the Tennis courts a simple powerful reminder filled Aces mind and linked the common grace of boy scouts to the world he found himself in. It was not troop 133 was bad it contained truth but Stephen King had put his faith in the wrong things even some the old sensitivity to the wilderness could be directed. The hand of God remaking nature its forms the invisible attributes made visible through creation so man was without excuse.

A small cloud drifted south beneath the light of the full moon and a sheer rock wall. Camp lights for the most part had been turned off. The sky aside from the moon was black velvet with tiny diamonds filling it the cloud a burst stroke opaque black off set by the light of the moon and the reflected white of a sheer limestone cliff that went down from the roadside park to the west bank of the East fork of the Frio. The sight assaulted Aces eyes with beauty. God was good….really a simple lesson but a bed rock lesson. Ace’s heart leapt in praise. The time of testing was soon be upon him.

Amanda Cook had a rival for state cross-country and 3200 Meter Glory and that girl was Annie McKenzie from of all places Longview Texas….Ace remembered Annie and she had shown up to camp. Annie could be faster and Ace had been running regularly the camp had a race to blue hole. Annie Mckenzie finished first Ace finished second.

Two days later with rodeo and Dance Ace was finally forced to the demons of the physical abuse his mother had foisted on him. God seemed crazy for Ace the very mix events that had occurred four years previous months after Dr King had abused Ace were now being repeated. God had ordered to Ace to go through a hurricane straight across no skirting the storm but dead into. The defective control system of Aces brain had shocked him as the bad lines of code were initiated and the whole system shorted out. There was no other way around the situation. Trials however build endurance. The infection of sin had seen the light of the Son as the master doctor’s hand had sliced an abscess squeezed in the lies within the infection were killed by the liberating light of truth. It was dramatic night for a year it was memorable. Christ made it clear to a reluctant Ace the only to deal with the storm was through it. Annie was being taught obedience is not always easy. Near the end of the dance Ace faced the shock and horror he had felt as fifth grade and the tears in his eyes washed him of it. No it would always be easy with his mother he still feared her but on the night a flame of mercy was born. Ace walked to cabin unknowingly free of a demon that had haunted him.

The second week of camp meant more activities a different selection. Ace chose riflery and soccer. The camp had non raunch but heavy secular selection of music mostly dating to the 1970s. Innocence even if it was vicarious innocence was sweet. The nightly scripture reading and discussion were softening the heart of Ace. Also Ace was developing what would be a quiet time habit. God was good pursuit of Christ was sweet.

Riflery for a dyspraxic seemed odd. Yet Ace had to some extent mastered motor skills. Ace had above average form for a cross-country runner and in JROTC his freshman year in high school he had qualified with an air rifle. Ace would take his driving test after camp he was becoming a decent driver. Between fifth and sixth grade Ace could not hit the target. Ace very rarely placed a shout outside the black now with the .22. Ace also lived by the 10 commandments of gun handling. Firing the .22 was fundamentally relaxing for Ace mastering the rifle was profoundly calming to Ace the rigidness of focus and calm would not be immediate manifest.

Ace also took history of rock and roll. The weird thing about this choice of activity was it actually prepared him for the history teacher was bound to have in Denton the legendary Doc Bowman the history of Rock and Roll would actually enable Ace to make more intelligent conversation with his seat mates around him in the fireball Latin Teachers class at well which was uncommon for Denton Bible Kids.

There was also group games again a second match up in Cabin 5 v Cabin 4. The antics continued. Ace had a simple role again. The culmination of the game was profoundly scary for Ace. The star Athlete of Cabin 5 Ace had just thrown a ball at and missed. He was incredibly angry that this wus this nerd would throw a ball at him as he charged full flush on Ace the DA’s son and kid for Corpus took aim at from behind Ace. Ace went from dread to laughter he had flushed out the biggest Prey brining the biggest Prey into the crossfire the second ball was not dodged and it before a very painful throw was made. Cabin 4 almost swept Cabin 4 in the game of war ball. Cabin 4 though had dominated the second session of games.

LLYC was in transition that summer yet during that summer in addition to the basics the music selected had pieces from the wilder days. The songs that remained filling the Valley were Bob Marley’s “No woman No Cry” Ace had learned the knifes edge of Rastarfian culture he also recognized the Biblical truth scattered into the song. In the third week the song would gain its full significance.

The second week was Robert Earl Keen’s No Kinda Dancer. The song had been part of the noise Stephen King had hated in the valley sixth grade. Now Ace was embracing the song. The song was becoming a symbol of that session of camp. The Valley was the woman who politely challenging a pre-conception of limitations and now with eagle feathers of conscience Ace found himself soaring. The end of the second week meant in a word hope.

It was not all rosy though. Gino not unlike Ace had a family background full of emotional neglect and material riches. The two cabin mates were on fundamentally different paths Ace had learned of his master and had the taste was sweet. Ace ran into the Arms of Christ. Gino was visibly sitting on the fence and their was quiet consternation about it.

Ace walked back to the point where he had accepted Christ and reflected as horrible as the last year had been he would not have undone. There was the bedrock of truth which Ace had embraced. What was shaping up at camp was hope for Ace’s Junior year.

The third week was without camp activities sports and stuff there were other activities however. One was a mountain top round up. There were two routes one was up the face of Antenna a steep climb the other a road trip long and controlled. Ace took the shorter steeper route.

The round up at Antenna was spectacular night and the focus was learning to trust God and give up control of life. The point was simple Ace took it oddly enough and realized he was too much of a control freak. By this time Ace was looking forward to a second school year. The three weeks were almost clear. Ace had been running five days a week three miles per run.

There was one final thing the last night of camp. What Ace did not realize it was Farwell to one phase of life. Cabin 4 had engaged in Men Without Woman Activities initiation was the final rite. Ace and 5 others were lead to Pebble Beach then blind folded. What followed was host of sensations literally walking by faith not by sight trusting the person in front. Soon they were in waist deep water. Ace figured it they were heading to Tupelo Beach and the Rock Jetty. The walk took 30 minutes.

The camp cook had gone through a variation of this male work crew had gone through a variation of it as well they had arrived to Tiepolo beach a fire from cut cedar was ignited in the fire pit in the center of the stone circle was ignited. They would share their wisdom child hook unbeknownst to all would be left behind that night even if 10 of the 12 would be Program Crew at camp the following summer. Program Crew was staff those walking down the Frio were campers and the distinction was hard line.

Ace could feel the limestone bottom of the Frio as he waded his arms were on a shorter young man in front of him. Ace recognized the rock he got on on finally emerging at the rock jetty he felt the warmth of the fire in front of him.

You traded places when smoke got in each others eyes and the lore was told. The fire which Ace stood in front of burns it burns to this day on that night childhood was left behind.

The fifth annual friendship festival Ace heard the comment …..a mother remarked the clothes you send your kid to camp in expect to throw away. The cost of three weeks worth of clothes was a small price to pay for a new kid. There were other stories of parents who had neglected their children who hated Christ were faced with this new creation and the reality in front of the parents face shattered what other intellectual constructs they had.

The three weeks had another crucial moment for Ace it was a sign of the radical transformation at camp for the first time women were invited to Tupelo beach. The boys of Cabin 4 took the ladies of Cabin J for a special night. They served fajitas the kitchen had made it up for the boys to serve. Ace grew a bit more confident a bit more assertive while paradoxically more gentle.  Ace had been loved and was learning to love.  Ace had tasted the joy of surrendering to ambition to a cause greater than himself.  The lesson had transformed him. 

The funniest moment of camp was a work crew member had realized everybody in Cabin 4 had drank coffee. This meant the camp director once played one by denying everybody their morning cup. Than a couple days later Ace woke up to see coffee pot set up with a work crew member ready to serve with the fixings. All of Cabin 4 drank up.

The Ace that emerged out of the Valley of the upper Frio once again was different than what came in. Ace’s mother noticed the hostility had faded Ace had realized she was as lost as he was April 29 1991. There was fear still.

For Tara Kuk was blur of cheerleading and discipline she was going to be JV cheerleader at Ryan campus. She learned of a good quiet time. She caught the passion of the women who were counselors. Some were by no means attractive women physically but a couple were engaged. It too was dawning on mind. Brother was ready to process sister.

The senior that had rebuked Ace had left a nerdy replacement. The harshness of the sophomore year as Ace learned of Gretch and Britt had left their mark. Britt, Ace, Allan Boyd at Youth group grew to be beyond friends. The seniors including a gregarious Drooby had well succeeded in making a point summer was fine tuning. It was only at this point was Unicorn lore introduced and accepted but the way Ace discussed had changed is tune. Ace began to see some things. Jake smiled next year would be different.

Ace left camp aimed for the next school year positive rate of climb realizing more about his family and his new church. With his sister being home for the summer after he passed his drivers test he soon started attending Denton Bible Church realizing he had far more in common with Denton Bible than he did with the Catholic Church. His sister added tension she was struggling through her own bout of depression. Denton Bible Church became a safe haven of truth.

Ace ran regularly the course at Northlakes Park and had helped out with two Denton Bible projects vacation Bible School and mission week which ended with a trip Six Flags Wet and Wild. Ace’s father had promised that after cross-country season 1992 flying lessons would begin. By mid July what was shocking for both Ace’s parents the arguments had ceased.



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