Thursday, March 11, 2010

Harmony

I used to go to sleep-away camp every summer when I was a kid. It was for three weeks, and I started going when I was seven years old.

The idea of sending Catherine to camp for three weeks right now by herself blows my mind. But if it was with Mr. Guy and Ms. Beth Tanner (the owners of Kueta-T Camp for Girls in Norwood, La.), I wouldn't hesitate.

Those guys were saints and grandparents and leaders and listeners all rolled up into one. They had six kids (plus them made eight, hence the "Kueta") and a dream of having a safe, fun, nondenominational camp for girls.

They also opened it to churches during the winter for retreats, and I think anyone who ever had any contact with Kueta and the Tanners came away loving those guys.

At Kueta the days were divided into activities you signed up for at the beginning of the session. You went to four or five a day, I can't remember. And the options included horseback riding, canoeing, archery, riflery, sign language, crafts, swimming, tennis... all the typical camp fare.

When I was a SMITY (Staff Member in Training) my last year to go, I taught drama and journalism. The journalism kids made an end-of-session newsletter and the drama group ended with a play. It was something about a princess and I can't remember what. Seems like there was another P-word in the title. (No, it wasn't "Pea.") It was hilarious.

My favorite part of the whole experience was the singing. Mr. Guy and Ms. Beth had graduated from LSU way back in the 1940s, and they had rewritten a bunch of the great old songs from that time with Kueta lyrics.

They were all about how great it was to be a camper at Kueta-T, and we would all sing a few after breakfast each morning. There were usually one or two that were divided into rounds.

Campers at Kueta aged from seven to seventeen, and after three weeks, everyone knew the songs. The year I was a SMITY, I got to help lead the singing after breakfast with Diedra (an actual grandaughter of MG & MB). It was awesome.

I also liked the sessions when they'd have a chorus option. A camper friend of mine Hayley and I loved to sing together. I remember Hayley had a really strong voice and the most beautiful, well-behaved blonde hair. There was no electricity at camp, so you can imagine what I looked like after a day.

During the sessions we were housed in open-air cabins called "Hogans," and the bathrooms were a hike down the hill from where we slept. Night-time bathroom runs were always ... exciting. We were out in the piney woods, you see, and it was Dark.

I thought about all this last night. I was feeling very tense and I had to go to choir practice at church. Since we moved here, we joined a small church that has an equally small choir. But it's a great bunch of folks--friendly and warm. They'd fit right in at Kueta.

We sang a song last Sunday that we hadn't practiced in a while and we hit a few wrong notes. The Duck in our choir fussed the whole way back to our seats about it. Something about sounding like cats and wishing she hadn't had a dog in that fight. Ms. Duck cracks me up.

Richard told me the Duck said she fell at the car wash one time and decided to just lie there until paramedics came and helped her up. She's one of the funniest, scrappiest old ladies I know, and I Love. Her.

Anyway, what all that has to do with harmony is this. I'm not the strongest singer in the choir, but I've got a decent ear for harmony, and I'll tell you something. There is nothing in this world like being surrounded by a group of voices ringing out a perfect four-part harmony.

I left last night feeling more relaxed than after a yoga class. Refreshed, too. Bro. Randy, our minister of music, is one of the hardest working men in show biz, and he always likes to say we're lead worshippers.

I don't always feel like a leader, but I always come away from that group restored, refreshed and ministered to. It's almost as good as coming off three weeks in the woods with no electricity and nothing but singing.

Kueta's no longer open. Ms. Beth's not doing so well, and Mr. Guy's up in heaven.

I like to imagine some of the songs he gets to sing up there including the words, "We call it fun, but you may call it ma-adness. Stay here with us and you'll forget your sa-adness. Happy campers are we having fun 'neath the trees and when we are gone you'll remember our song we call it Ku-eta-Tee, Ku-eta-Tee, Ku-eta-Tee, Ku-eta-Tee, Ku!"

16 comments:

Anonymous said...

Leigh, that brings back such wonderful memories. All of your wonderful letters you would write, my anxiousness of you being away from me, and Beth assuring me she would look after you like you were hers and you would love being there. Thanks for the memories " Bob Hopes" great song!!! Mother

LTM said...

good stuff. I loved Ms. B. Yep, a bunch of us former campers have reconnected on FB, and we all wish we had a Kueta to send our girls to. Thank you for that! :o) xoxo

Odie said...

Not sure why I didn't get sent to Kueta, I was shipped off to Camp Singing Waters. I remember being freaked out by horse back riding, and screamed till Erin Parolli's horse reared up with her on it, which made me scream even more and Al Lemoine, and tall skinny black Al (can't remember his last name) scrambled to get me off!!!

Oh and I went to 4-H camp which was a blast, there were 2 girl counselors that went to SMHS with you. One black, one white, and the white girl was a skinny, blonde who gave us hell, who I in turn insulted till she ran off in tears. Pretty bad for a 10 yr. old to get the better of a 18 yr. old! However, I came up with the winning song which pissed blond stick figure off even more! Good Times....

LTM said...

Camp Singing Waters! Dara and I spent a weekend racing feathers down the streams there once... Can't remember why we were there. How funny.

Who did I go to school with that worked 4H camp??? I am rackin my brains. But you could be a handful gurl, and you know it~ ;o)

Odie said...

i don't remember twig figure valley girl wannabe's name, she was a total B*tch!!! And yes I could be a handful, but only when provoked!!! And she PROVOKED me!

Anonymous said...

That stinks! I was online looking up Kueta T to send my 11 yr old girl there, when I found your post. We went there back in the 80's. The sign is still out on Hwy 19. I didn't realize it was closed... Have you found any viable alternatives?

LTM said...

Anon--I'm not shopping camps at the moment, but I had a friend send me information for one in Alabama. The last I heard is the children are planning to sell Kueta... :o| bluh.

Troy Parker said...

Leigh - I was "googling" Guy Tanner and came across your blog. Well done!! And glad to see you're alive and well down on the AL coast. I was a "gopher" at Kueta many moons before you attended, and you may be surprised to know that Miss Beth suffers from alzheimer's disease and lives in Plaquemine. My Kueta time was critical in my spiritual formation. Their investment in me helped to shape who I am and how I've been able to serve in the Kingdom. The Kueta tunes are playing in my head right now! Anyway, as your mother said, "thanks for the memories"!

LTM said...

Troy! How cool! You're not the first person who's found my blog looking for the Tanners or Kueta. I hope my memories here do them justice! Kueta was such a wonderful, special place in all our lives--spiritually, mentally, emotionally. Those guys were so... amazing. :o)

Hey, Anna Joy's one of my FB friends. Ask her to go to my profile and under the "info" tab, I have a link to the Kueta fan page. It has old pix, etc. It is GREAT. You'll love it.

So happy to hear from you! Thanks for commenting, and I hope you drop in again! :o)

carolc said...

I liked your article! You look familiar---maybe we were at camp at the same time? I attended the camp either summer of 1979 or 1980 (I was either 12 or 13) and did the drama, arts/crafts, horseback and riflery. I liked the singing there also, and I remember going on a hayride singing songs. It was a fun camp.

Thanks for posting. I was looking up info on Kueta T and couldn't find anything. I didn't realize it had closed. :( My child wants to go to summer camp next year and I was trying to remember details of things I liked at Kueta T. Thanks for helping me remember! :-)

Now if I could find a camp like that in Texas......

LTM said...

Hi, Carol! Thanks! It's possible we were there at the same time. My first year was when I was 9, which was in 1980. But I don't remember which session I attended... Maybe 2nd?

I can't tell you how many times I've wished I could send my two daughters to Kueta. It was a special place. :o) Take care! And look for "Summer Camp at Kueta T" on Facebook! <3

Christina said...

I just found this blog by googling Kueta-T. We have just moved to Norwood and went to a sunrise Easter service yesterday at Kueta-T. It reminded me a lot of the camp I grew up going to, Camp Victory in Samson, AL. It is still active today and we have sent many from our youth group at our last church (my husband was the youth pastor) and my own children will go when they are old enough. You can find it at www.campvictoryal.org

LTM said...

Supercool, Christina! Thank you so much for sharing this info with me about Camp Victory! It seems like someone might've told me about it before...

Either way, at the moment, we're a little too far away for my girls to attend, but my plan is to get us back "home" sooner rather than later. When that happens, I plan to look it up!

Best to you! I'm glad to hear Kueta is back in business~ <3

runningmom said...

I went to Kurta T and loved it! Since it closed, my kids go to The Gospel Camp s in Ruston, La and Pine Cove Camps in Texas. Maybe one of those will work for you.

Blake Tanner said...

My dream is to reopen Kueta again one day and continue my grandparents legacy... Looks like it my actually happen. Everyone plz be in prayer with me! 🙏 With Him👆 everything is possible!

LTM said...

Thanks, runningmom! My husband is actually from Ruston, so that could be a possibility for us!

Blake--I will! If that comes together, please let me know! <3