By Brian Patterson
Creativity knows no bounds, no matter how inane the art. In this case, Ben Garverick, the Ransomed class male activities director, decided to try his hand at a new line of breakfast food: taco pancakes.
A spur of the moment idea, Ben threw together a small taco salad (minus the tortilla chips) into the last bit of pancake batter on the grill. Initially a gag meant for laughs, the strange mixture spiced up the mundane typical camp style breakfast, displaying a special hint of individuality, intuition and a will- ingness to think outside the box. In order to experience beauty and greatness, convention must be turned upon its head and the mundane must give way to the different and the new. And while possibly the silliest idea ever brought to a delicious perfection, the inane concoction defined and harmonized the entire camp experience and theme of Junior Retreat last week.
Set in the shallow valley of Bluegrass Christian Camp, a small group of the Ransomed class gathered for a retreat away from campus for a time of fellow- ship and a change of scenery. The typical camp activities of s’mores, campfires, camp food and someone playing a guitar dominated the evening’s schedule, making up the “batter” of the weekend. But more than just evening camp activities are required to make a weekend of fullness, in a way more than just the batter is required. Other events need to take place in order to reveal the in- dividual flavors necessary for the formation of a great weekend. Naturally, like the taco pancakes, the majority of the students remember the more unusual events in greater detail.
Unlike the campus reservoir, the camp sports a quaint pond complete with a dam waterfall that leads to a shallow and quick stream below the concrete. In this land of water and slippery shale, the students canoed, paddled, and traversed the pond and stream. An avid canoer and general lover of art and nature, Micah Huber, fondly expressed that the canoes were his “favorite part” of the retreat. The nearly inseparable twins, Matthew and Tommy Morton, expressed a similar love for the canoe part of the retreat (although they nearly sunk in the process), and also expressed how much they enjoyed both getting to spend some time outdoors and meeting other members in the class. Both agreed that meeting other “Ransomers” was the best part of the retreat.
While the canoeing part of the retreat attracted the attention of many juniors, there were others who were more attracted to competitive side of sports. From participating in kickball, sardines and volleyball, the junior class was able to engage in community and unity. During the very competitive class kickball game, I found myself adding my own talents and strengths to its nail-biting moments. Playing outfield, I caught a few difficult kicks and saved a few runs. Of course, Paul Stephens, the class sponsor, found himself on the winning team, with a final score of 25-24. Even with the healthy competition, no student felt pressure, but rather felt the positive feedback from everyone involved in the game.
The weekend was not complete without messages from the class chaplains. And just like Ben’s taco pancakes, the chaplains added new ingredients in the proverbial “food for thought.” Stephanie Barnett, the female class chap- lain, spoke on unity, welding the Asbury message of community into the retreat’s theme. The Male Class Chaplain, Aaron Rowe, changed the normal ingredients for an Asbury sermon. His message Sunday morning aimed to reign in perspective on the holiness emphasis. He emphasized glorifying the Lord rather than striving for our own perfection, as the Wesleyan tradition is susceptible to such doctrine. While heavy, his message hit home with many of the students, leaving many with food for thought before we trekked back to campus.
So, strangely enough the taco pancake example works- figuratively, of course. By itself, pancake batter is bland (it needs at least chocolate chips in order to taste good), and by itself, taco salad rarely satisfies. Placed together, however, it made such an odd blend that the combined flavors formed a mas- terpiece. Just like the Ransomed Class, famed for their rugged individual spirit and drive for success, the motley crew of students mixed like a taco pancake: messy and odd at first, but delicious as time blends the batter to the flavors.
When asked about this camp phenomenon, Dana Nurge expressed that there was no “better way to encourage spiritual unity than genuine fellowship with [the] class.” In such an environment, the unity of tacos and pancakes were made as a joke, only to become a beloved dish to be enjoyed for those brave enough to try such a strange pancake.
So if anyone asks about the best part of the Ransomed Class Retreat, the answer is simple and needs no explanation: taco pancakes.