The Health Inspector Is Coming! #129

In 1982 there was no telephone line within five miles of DL, so DL had a phone with answering machine at Dave Good’s house in Speculator. Every day a staff member would check for messages.

My heart sank the day I received the recorded message from the NYS Health Department Inspector telling me he was coming on a specific date for our pre-camp inspection. I had heard that Mr. Lane was really tough. There was no way to fake it – I did not know the NYS Health Department regulations. My mind was spinning as I drove back to camp.

While in high school I was riding with a camp director who was driving a truck to camp. The director turned off the highway on to a small side road…and then another…and another…then back to the highway. As we made this detour he explained that the truck was over-loaded and so he was driving around the weigh station. He went on to say that sometimes in Christian work we needed to do things like this. I was stunned! I could not believe what I was hearing – and from a Christian leader I highly respected. At that moment I vowed I would never knowingly disobey the law of the land – unless it was in violation of God’s law.

Romans 13:1-5 — ”Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended. For the one in authority is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.”

When I told the staff DL was about to have an inspection by the NYS Health Department, I explained my position on obedience to the law of the land – it was biblical. It was really tough to say this because I did not know what the state regulations were! But…the NYS Health Department regulations are law.

The inspector introduced himself: Steve Lane. I admitted I did not know the NYS regulations and was not willfully in violation of them. I went on to ask Steve to teach me – and not be too tough on my ignorance. He smiled and said he would be glad to. I then asked if our entire staff could go along for the inspection as I wanted them to also learn the NYS regulations. I think the best word to describe his reaction was “shocked”. Then… ”I guess there is no reason why not.”

We toured camp together for several hours – Steve was a great teacher!!!! As we went through camp, at location after location he would stop us and then clearly explain the potential accident a specific regulation was seeking to prevent. I did not feel any tension between Steve and me….so as we walked along the trail from the Island back to main camp I asked Steve if he would be willing to stop the group – point out the dangers of the roots in the path, and tell us the path had to be made safe, which meant filling between the roots. He winked at me ….then he stopped the staff, and with all seriousness he explained the dangers of the present path – and what needed to be done to make it safe. Even I was beginning to believe he meant it! Then he started laughing…and slowly we all did. Needless to say, any tension we were feeling was gone.

Through the years Steven and I became very good friends. After several inspections Steve told me he was an elder in his church, and because we were brothers in the Lord, he would be extra tough on DL, so Steve and I would be above reproach. He also assured me he would be fair with DL, and he was.

About 15 years later Steve’s boss sent his two sons to DL. Later, Steve’s son also became a Deerfooter – as did the two sons of the Governor of NY State.

Leave a Reply