MILLSBORO, Delaware. — With the exception of several adults and children dying and a few youngsters playing wiffle ball or badminton, there was little activity as the midday sun set over Carey’s Camp.
Around 5 o’clock that evening, the camp really began to come alive.
Coincidentally (or maybe not), that’s also when the sugar shack – with about two dozen flavors of ice cream, plus milkshakes, homemade pies, candies and more treats – opened.
With the help of their children and grandchildren, Michael and Daphne Jones have operated the camp facility for approximately 12 years.
“We rent the building. The little profit that remains, we keep it. It’s a lot of work, a lot of work. Our whole family works here,” said Mr Jones, also employed by the Sussex County Housing and Community Development Department.
“We are very lucky and fortunate to be able to do this year after year. I grew up here all my life. We had our own cabin, just across the street. We call them tents. So I grew up right in front of this place. Our family has had a tent here for probably 70 years.
Mrs. Jones makes coconut cream, lemon meringue and chocolate meringue pies, as well as rice pudding. Candy that cost a penny when Mr. Jones was a kid is now just a bit more.
“It has been an ongoing thing. My parents had this when I was probably 4 or 5 years old. They called it the confectionery back then. Little kids call it the sugar shack,” he said. “We actually found the sign at a garage sale. I said, ‘We’re going to call the confectionery the sugar shack.’ »
The Joneses’ ties to Carey’s Camp include their son, Discover Church Pastor Curtis Jones, who was a speaker.
The 15-day camp is a multi-generational tradition in its 132nd edition. The gathering offers worship, music, vacation Bible school, youth services, food, fun activities for children, and “the presence of God.”
Onstage one night in the open tabernacle were Sherri and Randy Miller, an accomplished husband-wife gospel duo from Cleveland, Tennessee, who record about 150 concerts a year.
They say Carey’s Camp is something special.
“I grew up as a young girl singing with my family (the Singing Rambos), and we used to come to Carey’s Camp in the 1970s. I was just 4 years old,” Ms Miller said “Growing up, we kind of lost touch with each other and then reconnected through another friend of ours in the music business. They said they were still doing Carey’s Camp. About eight years ago we started coming back. We do a concert during the week here.
“And we love it. We love what they do here,” said Ms Miller, who has performed with artists including Dolly Parton, Charlie Daniels and The Judds. “Through thick and thin, they just kept going. … We’re super lucky to be here.
Mr Miller, who can play nine different instruments and has also toured with the Kingsmen Quartet, added: “It’s always a good time.”
For Carey’s young visitors, that fun included vacation Bible school, along with some dyeing.
But with little running water and no washing machine or dryer, the teachers relied on the sun to see the project through.
Keri Justice, director of Carey’s Vacation Bible School for more than 20 years, ordered 330 shirts. “There were over 150 children and over 200 people involved in total,” she said.
Besides the tie-dying, there were fire truck rides, wagon rides, water slides, bouncy houses, and a family picnic dinner.
Cheryl Roach and Amanda Millman helped with the shirts.
“It’s all about family here,” Ms. Justice said. “You are linked to everything by your family. That’s why Amanda is here.
Meanwhile, back at the sugar shack, business is picking up. The camp boarding tent was also open, for further concessions.
“Before that, we had the boarding tent opposite. We did this for 20 years, where the food was,” Mr Jones said. “We got to see all the kids grow up and have kids. You see the same faces year after year. This is very fun.”