When we first moved to Lufkin, it was easy to find myself complaining, and to be honest, I still do. Just the other day in Tucson I said to my mom, ‘Man, I just wish Lufkin had a Whole Foods.’ She didn’t even acknowledge my statement, which over the years I’ve come to understand means my grievance is nothing more than an ungrateful grumble. Her silence says count your blessings, not your lack of organic, gluten free mac and cheese.
A few weekends ago we made our way to Camp Cowtown, which to twelve current and former Lufkinites is now a real place that will be talked about on the regular. We’ll talk about how much we miss it. How we can’t wait until next time. And how we should do it multiple times a year.
We pitched our tents at the home of the Henrys, now residents of Ft. Worth (which I learned once arriving is called Cowtown). After we finished gawking at their beautiful home, unwrapping our goodie bags and adorning their new golden retriever with every affection we had in us, we stood in disbelief that the long-awaited weekend had finally come. And then we hugged some more.
As more campers gradually arrived we spent most of our time doing what we do best—eating. If we weren’t shoveling pounds of puppy chow and chocolate sheet cake down our throats, we were playing games while watching You Tube videos. And then we took breaks to make our way back to the table o’ sweets. We ventured out of the house a few times, you know, to play a competitive round of flag football in matching shirts. It’s possible we were winded after the first few downs, but our pride told us we could play to winner scores 5. Or was it 4? Ft. Worth offered us a quick lunch at a food truck venue, an afternoon of golf for the boys and shopping for the girls, and a lively dinner at Joe T. Garcia’s. I was in consumer heaven.
But I’ve been thinking. I’m pretty sure all 12 of us would have been perfectly content if we never left the house. Full, fat and in need of serious exercise from our pizza night and lemon cookies, but perfectly content in our 12 bodies being under one roof. No city life required.
I’ve come to realize that Camp Cowtown isn’t an annual event, Camp Cowtown is a community. It’s a place of laughter, a place of comfort and a place of companionship. It’s a different way of looking at life, a better way. It’s recognizing that relationships are God-given and sacred, and that Anthropologie, Trader Joe’s and fine dining are not. It’s a place where we need nothing besides each other. It’s a place where we love each other well because we don’t take each other for granted.
During and after the weekend a couple of us reflected on our quick 48 hours. There were no complaints, no talks of stress and no bad attitudes. We had our people, and our people were all we needed. We just did everything so well. What if we constantly lived in a state of only needing each other? I think we might do life really, really well.
I think back to my statement in the parking lot of Whole Foods and my countless statements elsewhere. I think of my moans that long for Lufkin to provide just a few more opportunities for healthy eating and recreational activities. But then I think of my mom’s silence that screams throw all your thankfulness into Camp Cowtown, for it gives more joy and life than a local Dillards could even begin to offer.
So, thank you, Lufkin. For gifting me with sacred relationships, even beyond these twelve. For reminding me that life done really, really well is found in human connection rather than music venues and shopping malls. I don’t think I recognized the significance of Camp Cowtown when we all lived in the same city, but one thing I know is that distance can’t destroy the sacred. Camp Cowtown is going strong. Stronger than ever.
Walker ate a pound of beef for lunch. I cringed, I cried and I started looking for roommates while he ate himself to an early death. I never thought a group of twenty-somethings would dish out such little verbal assault but rather more of, ‘How’s your back?’ ‘Is your knee doing OK?’ ‘Are your hips holding up?’ and ‘Do you need to stretch it out?’Despite my hands on arched back stance in this pic, no, I am not pregnant. Although there are quite a few Lufkin teenagers who would jump for joy should it be true. An afternoon of shopping. If shopping means letting Kelsey try on clothes while the rest of us contently relaxed on leather couches. Try more stuff, Kels, try more stuff. The Ladies. The Gentlemen.
I wish I had taken more pictures, but I was just too busy enjoying my friends.