Have you heard of Citronelle, Alabama? Maybe not, but you’ve probably heard of Mobile, Alabama. Citronelle is a small city with a population of a little less than 4000. It’s located right on the northern border of Mobile County; probably about 25 miles north of Mobile.
Citronelle has kind of an interesting history I read about on Wikipedia. The first known explorers were French, but the first known inhabitants were the Choctaw and Creek people. The whole area was known for the warm climate, the herbs, and the mineral springs called “the healing waters”. Since the French were the first known explorers, they got to name the town. They named it after one of the most prolific plants in the area – the Citronella plant. The French name for Cintronella is Citronelle. Thus the name of the city. in 1955, oil was discovered in the salt dome structure that the city sits on. This is why Citronelle is known as the oil capital of Alabama. Who knew, huh? But, we weren’t there for the oil. And, we weren’t there for the “healing waters”. It was too cold for that in January anyway!
This 76-acre camp was originally the site of Hotel Citronelle. The lake on this property is fed by seven springs. Remember, I mentioned earlier the herbs and mineral spring healing waters? It was in 1947 that this campus started out as a popular tourist destination.
Our mission as SOWERS was to help get the property ready for the youth and adults that would be coming for camp and retreats. In fact, the first weekend we were there, they were having their first group of youth.
When we arrived, we were met with a 2-page wish list of items they hope to get done. Obviously, all this wasn’t going to get done during our stay and it seemed the longer we were there, the longer the list got. I think several factors were involved in the neglected state the camp seemed to be in. They are currently in search of a camp director. At this time, Dino Danzey, the pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Citronelle, is the interim director, Beverly is the full-time secretary, and the Voluntary Maintenance Missionary is Barry Miller and his wife Tammy. They are doing a wonderful job keeping things running. COVID didn’t help any by keeping people away and as we all know, it’s been hard over the last year or so, to find workers.
So, we as SOWERS did everything we could in our time there to get as much done as we could. It was cold too, so some of the outdoor projects couldn’t be completed.
We did quite a bit of cleaning, painting, home remodeling, some yard raking and spreading some pine straw, power washing, and even helped move in some commercial refrigerators and freezers that were donated.
It wasn’t all work. We had a potluck dinner one night and game night another night during the week. And the last day all the SOWERS, the Secretary and her husband, the Pastor, and Interim director, and the Missionary Maintenance couple went out to lunch.
Dave and I enjoyed going out with a previous SOWER group in Vero Beach Florida for Trivia Night at a local restaurant so we looked for one in the Mobile, Alabama area and found a place called the Blind Mule http://theblindmule.net/. Unfortunately, both times we went it was just too cold for the outdoor dining and game so they canceled the Trivia, but we really enjoyed the food there. If you are ever in the area, check it out. The staff was great and the food was good. Hopefully, you may even get to play trivia.
Our next/current project is the Boys Ranch in Live Oak, Florida. I’ll write more about it later. You may remember, we were house parents here four years ago.