An Unlikely Camping Family: Bo and Mary Nixon
An unlikely camping family we were – accustomed to life in a Manhattan apartment where tents and campfires, deer, raccoon, and an occasional bear were never envisioned, let alone experienced. Our pastor, Phil West, repeatedly told us about Kingswood and insisted we would love camping. So in the summer of 1974, with a four-year-old and a toddler, we had our first Kingswood experience. What we remember most about that first camping trip was the tent in our Hogan campsite that resemble a “covered wagon.” We had seen something that looked more like a real tent on the road up to Hogan and were able to move into one of the Orchard sites.
That first summer began what have now been thirty-four summer camping trips to Kingswood. We haven’t missed a summer! We’ve had friends and family join us at various times. We’ve even had our staff from the ministry we direct (New Life of New York City) at Kingswood campsites for a staff retreat. Of all those who have joined us, some loved it, for others camping wasn’t their thing. We’ve introduced city kids (from our ministry) to sleeping in tents and eating outside and enjoyed using the Kingswood farmhouse for outreach retreats in the winter.
For many years Kingswood was that wonderful contrast from city life where we, as a family of four, relaxed, played, fished, read, and looked for salamanders and snakes. Then came the day when our sons were old enough for summer jobs. What were we to do? Kingswood was our family spot! We decided it would work for just the two of us (Bo and Mary) and so it has! For us, it has been our haven where we can’t wait to get to on the first day camp opens every summer. After a year of challenges being involved in ministry, raising the budget, and managing a demanding schedule, Kingswood for us is a time of restoration and rejuvenation. The beauty and solitude are a balm to our souls and, yes, we do tend to hibernate (except when Bo’s out on the lake pulling in the big ones) while we’re at Kingswood, but only because we’re soaking in the quiet, calm, soothing surroundings. No doubt about it, we’ve met some of the most wonderful people ever at Kingswood and especially appreciate those who serve as camp managers.
There isn’t a place in the world that is more inviting for us to be than Kingswood. Several years ago good friends offered us the great gift of a ten-day cruise to Scandinavian countries. When we heard it would overlap with our time at Kingswood we told them “we’d think about it and get back to them.” Now that we think about it, we can’t believe we said that, but it’s how strongly we feel about Kingswood. (We went on the cruise).
In the last few years, our youngest son and his family have been joining us, and we’ve come full circle to family camping again, although we make sure there’s at least a week for just ‘Bo and Mary’ time. We honestly can’t imagine our lives without our beloved Kingswood. For us it has been the greatest blessing!
Written in June 2009 for From Hathaway Farm to Kingswood Campsite, the book of stories compiled for Kingswood’s 50th anniversary