Delanco Camp Memories

Jeff and I were newlyweds, just married about six months when we were asked to join the music staff of the Delanco Family Camp Week in NJ back in 1974. We have Dave VanSciver of then Ocean Grove, to blame for all this. He’s the one who thought we were worthy of such an invite. And that first visit turned out to be a life-time of memory making Delanco calendar stops from 1974 all the way through to as recent as 2010. 

I remember meeting Carleton Bodine, Sr., president of Delanco Camp and recalling him eyeing us up and down. I’m sure he was thinking, “There’s no way that these radical contemporary singers will fit into our more conservative audience.” He probably was right. The song services, as they called them in ’74, were much more traditional and more mainstream, usually led by inspirational artist, Frank Jacobs. On the piano was the ever-present Mary Boughton, a favorite for many years.

So, to break in to this well-established Delanco machine was no easy fete. But we were no dummies either. In while I would have loved to have turned up the amps and fire up our reel-to-reel tracks, filled with drums and Andrae Crouch songs, our very first song on that infamous July Friday night in '74 was “Down By The Well”. I chose this sacred song because it was written by good friends of the Bodines, Herb and Blanche Osborn of Bridgeton, NJ. I smile as I think even back then (only twenty years old), I knew what political persuasion and favor could do. Everyone smiled. Everyone lifted their hands. And the start of the Duffield music influence began at Delanco.

Needless to say, two twenty year olds - Jeff on the piano and me on vocal - were some of the early singers to introduce a more contemporary worship sound to Delanco Camp. Carleton Bodine, Jr., and his leadership, desired to reach out to a younger audience. The singing group he led, The King’s Crusaders, performed a mix of contemporary and gospel favorites sung by some of south Jersey’s best teens… many of which are still our friends today.

On those July summer nights in the 70s when Family Camp was at its peak, you could hardly find an empty seat on those wooden benches. And be prepared that if you didn’t come early enough for those evening services, you’d have to park way off in some sand ditch! It was an exciting time of our lives. It was the formation of our worship music. It was the beginning of something supernatural in the lives of teens as well as adults. 

Oh, and we can’t forget the sandpit softball games with Jerry Ruff! We’d die of exhaustion and heat, but those were some great duels. After ten days in a row of softball, singing, leading devotions, consuming some pretty doggone good camp food, preaching, drinking way too much BOOST, and staying up late every night - I gotta say, “I miss it all.”

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