About the Book
Chet Harrigan is reluctant to return to the Florida backwoods with a group of 10- to 16-year-old boys from his Central Florida community church. Last time he lost one, who was missing 30 hours before being rescued by helicopter as a hurricane approached. Chet would prefer not to return — except he’s convinced God wants it. So he does his best to overcome last year’s obstacles, including no-stinging see-ums and a reluctant chef who encouraged the boys to eat raw hot dogs.
The boys, however, are still in for quite an adventure. A bumbling wilderness expert who needs help himself, a dedicated chef who goes missing, a mysterious camper living far off the beaten trail to avoid electricity, and a ravaging forest fire test the group’s faith. In the end, the woman is healed of a severe immune disorder, Environmental Illness.
Join Chet and The Boy’s Den as they return to the woods for their second Bible Camp. See biblical principles in action, including the biblical path to salvation and the power of prayer.
Chapter 1: A Surprise Announcement
“Well, it’s that time of year again,” began 29-year-old Chet, a bit too enthusiastically. “It’s time to prepare for Bible Camp!”
Chet Holden, a youth pastor at Living Water Community Church in Central Florida, plastered a smile on his face to mask the uneasiness deep in his gut. After last year’s fiasco at Bible Camp, when a 13-year-old camper disappeared in the middle of the night, Chet was giving them the sales pitch. He wasn’t sure the boys would want to sign up. And he couldn’t blame them.
The truth was, he didn’t trust himself to take the group into the woods. He didn’t expect the boy’s parents to trust him, either. But he was firmly convinced this was what God wanted. So here he was, facing a group of 10- to 16-year old boys who attended The Boy’s Den, the church’s male fellowship for preteens and teens. As it turned out, they were pretty excited about Chet’s announcement.
“I know you’ve got a few questions,” he continued, interrupting the loud clamor. “I know a lot of you were wondering if there would BE another Bible camp. I want you to know there’s been a lot of prayer – a lot of soul searching. We believe this is what God wants us to do.”
Chet stopped and gazed at the crowd, waiting for silence.
“Alright then,” he declared, as the clamor subsided. “I’d like to call forward Zack, a veteran of last year’s trip, to talk to you about specifics.”
At the mention of Zack, a mild uproar began. There wasn’t one of the boys who hadn’t heard about his disappearance and his dramatic rescue by helicopter about 30 hours later. It also was well known that his parents declared he would never, ever be allowed to attend another Bible Camp.
So the boys were curious about what Zack had to say. Chet held out the microphone to him, and the room grew almost eerily quiet, waiting expectantly. Chet continued to hold the microphone for the reluctant Zack, with a pleading look in his eyes. Zack arose from his seat, strode to the front, and began to speak.
“I, uh, guess you’re wondering why I’ve been asked to talk to you today,” he began. “I know you’ve heard the stories about how my parents said I would never be allowed to go on another one of these Bible camps.” He paused. “I know you heard. Because I told you.”
A few boys laughed heartily. Zack waited patiently, with a smile on his face.
“Well, I am here to tell you I am GOING!” Zack beamed. “My parents have relented. I am going on the Bible Camp – as your Junior Safety Coordinator.”
A few wows were heard throughout the room.
“I can’t believe it!” exclaimed 11-year-old Sammy, a veteran of last year’s trip.
“Let me show you why,” Zack continued. “Can you put on the overhead?”
A volunteer at the back of the room turned on the projector, which showed a map of Camp Timucua, the youth camp they visited last year. “We’re put together this map,” Zack began. “As you can see, from where the Youth Campsite is marked, our campground is actually very close to civilization.”
“See where the latrine is? I headed north from there into the woods, eventually finding the trail toward the Crooked River,” Zack explained. “When the road – and help – were a short distance away. To the south.”
The remark drew a loud whistle.
“Yeah. Help was so close, yet so far away,” Zack continued. “Anyway, I’ve been asked to accompany the group as your Junior Safety Coordinator. Because I’ve learned what to do, even though I learned the hard way.”
Chuckles rippled through the crowd.
“You’re not kidding,” Peter remarked.
“I was asked to come again. I prayed and talked with my parents and they are letting me come. Now I’ll tell you why. Last year when I was lost, I wasn’t just lost in the woods,” Zack continued as the crowd silenced themselves. “I was lost spiritually. I was in my own little world. I did not really know God. I prayed and everything, but I was going through the motions here in church. God found me last year, in the middle of nowhere. He found me and changed my life!”
Zack looked at the faces of his friends and he had to stop. He was getting choked up! He looked at his feet as he tried to regain his composure.
“When Chet came to me and asked if I’d come again, I was stunned. I didn’t think I wanted to participate. I didn’t think my parents would let me. I couldn’t believe anyone would ever trust me in the woods again,” he said. “Then I thought about you. About how you could be blessed by knowing God better through this trip. I want that for all of you.”
As tears welled up in Zack’s eyes, he handed the microphone to Chet, who decided he better finish the presentation.
“We are very glad Zack will be joining us again. He has agreed to add even more landmarks to our map,” Chet said. “These landmarks will all be verified with rangers who know the park like the back of their hands. And, every one of the campers will be given a copy of the final map to keep with them at all times.”
His confidence returning, Chet told The Boy’s Den the leaders would be doing their best to sidestep every difficulty they encountered last time. “A critical factor we want you all to realize is that the campground is actually quite safe,” Chet said. “As Zack pointed out, it is very close to the road and civilization. We want you all to be aware of that. Our camp will be a short walk to the church van.”
Chet continued. “This is a great opportunity to learn about the wilderness, and to get survival training. We’re going to have a wilderness guide with us at the camp this year. Dennis Pattington will show us how to build a makeshift shelter using the existing wildlife materials at the park. Zack, who experimented with the materials last year, will be assisting him.”
“Yeah. I remember hearing about that,” Greg called out.
“Okay, now I’m sure you are wondering about the food. Peter’s Uncle Carlos has volunteered as our dedicated chef, meaning he is in charge of breakfast, lunch and dinner,” Chet said. “There will be no steak tartare, or hamburger tartare, whatever you want to call it. Carlos assures me everything will be cooked either medium or well done. There will be no rare meat and no hot dogs, at all. Somehow I don’t think they’d be very popular,” he concluded wryly.
Steve let out a loud guffaw. Bill laughed a bit nervously as he recalled how he’d eaten a raw hot dog on last year’s trip, leading to a massive outbreak of food poisoning.
“I’m not going this year,” Bill blurted, his face turning red.
“Bill’s heart is not into outdoor cooking,” Chet announced. “In fact, he’s not really an outdoorsman at all – so that’s okay.”
“Are you having a pork roast?” asked the rotund Greg, who liked to eat.
“As much as I’d love it, no. We are planning to take a mixed age group like we did last time,” Chet said. “We will stick to basics: Hiking, canoeing and wilderness survival. Anyone who is interested, I invite you to sign up tonight before you leave. We will be holding our camp preparation classes soon and need to have a commitment from you and your parents. Permission slips must be turned in Sunday, okay?”
He then dispersed the boys, who enjoyed an hour of video games before lining up at the signup table as they prepared to leave. When the last boy walked outside, Chet gathered a small stack of papers and leafed through them. “Peter, Zack, Chang, Steve, Sammy, Jeff … That’s great! We have some who want to return. I can hardly believe it,” he declared. “Sometimes I think I’m crazy to plan another trip.”
He glanced cautiously at Gary, wondering if he felt the same way. As the two walked toward the door of The Boy’s Den, Chet got his answer. “Sometimes I think you’re crazy too,” Gary said with a chuckle.
About the Author
Cheryl Rogers began her writing career in the newspaper business in 1977. Since then her writing has evolved to include writing ebooks and writing for websites, businesses, and magazines. She writes both Christian fiction and non-fiction. But what originally drew her to this career was her avid love of mysteries as a young reader.
With her new Bible Camp Mystery series, Cheryl has come full circle. The first in a new series of Bible Camp Mysteries, Lost in the Woods is not a typical Nancy Drew Mystery. Instead, it incorporates the adventure and suspense of a mystery with the biblical principles she longs to share. Alone in the Woods shows readers faith in action as the youth group finds a mysterious woman suffering from a severe immune disorder and prays for her. She is healed!
Cheryl came to know the Lord as an adult through a series illness. As a result, she reaches out to young and old readers alike with her message about the importance of seeking God and staying connected to his Word. Her writings are fiction and non-fiction, written for toddlers, preteens and teens, and adults.
A generalist, Cheryl also has written some ebooks about self publishing to share what she has learned with fellow writers. They include: What You Should Know About Self Publishing, What You Should Know Before You Hire a Book Designer (free), and Book-Selling Strategies for the Reluctant Marketer.
Cheryl lives in Tampa, FL, with her husband and family. She also publishes New Christian Books Online Magazine, where she publicizes Christian books.