Chris Maddox; President, Camp Manager, Dean of MAD Week
When I was a born, my parents were still young. They had me when they were both 20 years old and were still practically Newly Weds. My mom grew up in the churches on the shore and grew up attending camp at DCSC. She may not have gone every year, but she knew it would be a place for her children to go and grow up. My dad did not grow up in the church but came to know Christ by way of dating my mom and they attended church and camp together as they desired to raise me in a positive environment.
I remember being at the camp when I was about two or three years old. Frank Goehringer was the lifeguard and I fell into the pool, the shallow end near the steps. Frank helped pull me out of the pool and made sure I was alright.
A few years later I was old enough to go to First Timer’s Week and I was eager but nervous at the same time. I enjoyed my first day or two but went home sick. I can still remember some of my friends who were there with me. I remember our Dorm Dad who got “Skunk Bunk” and was forever seated in my memory as Skunk Bunk Matt. Frank Goehringer was the Dean that week and he agreed to let me go home after I snuck out of the dorm that night and ran to the kitchen to beg to call my mom. I didn’t come back to camp until two years later.
When I was in third grade, my sister was in the hospital, a lot. Her special needs made her the focus of a great deal of my family’s focus and worry. We had tremendous support that year from church members here on Delmarva. The kind of support I would long for if I were in the same position as my then twenty-eight-year-old parents. As a child I didn’t fully understand or have a profound appreciation for the love and support we received but that year my mom and dad encouraged me to return to camp for Beginner week because someone had offered to pay for me to go to camp and our close friend Greg Breisch was going to be on staff that week and Frank Goehringer was going to be the Dean. I agreed to go, and I had a blast. That week changed my life forever in some significant ways.
I had such a great time. I made so many friends. I enjoyed every minute of the week. I couldn’t tell you anything about what the theme was, the lessons were or the skits that were performed. But I was happy, and I didn’t want it to end. I also remember there was a lady who was serving in the kitchen that week who had been going to the Lewes Church but had not given her life to Christ. But during that week, she made the decision to be baptized in the pool at the camp. I had seen baptisms before, at church and I had a basic understanding of what it was for when they happened. But the week following camp, I remember telling my aunt, Valerie, that I wanted to be baptized. I remember being nervous that my mom and dad would not let me because I was only eight at the time. And of course, they were happy and trepidations about me getting baptized at such a young age. Their main concern was knowing that I was making the choice for the right reasons. Our preacher talked to me, one of our Elders talked with me, Greg Breisch, our youth minister, talked with me. And they all came to the decision that I understood, and I was ready to make the decision to be baptized. So, on August 5th, 1998, at the Christian Church of Seaford, I was immersed by my father.
Now, I wouldn’t say the goal of the staff at Beginner Week was to scare us into getting baptized. I don’t even think the idea would have come up at the time if it hadn’t been for the lady from the kitchen making her decision during the camp week. But regardless, he decision and her baptism, ignited questions that I needed answers to and a desire to do likewise. And every year after that, I went to camp, except for 2005 and 2012. And I regret missing those years to this day.
My dad began working with camp weeks around 1998 or 1999. He had been so impacted by the miracles God was working in my sister’s life, that he had decided to get involved in Kingdom work as a preacher and began serving at the camp. I remember being a camp kid with my dad. I would be at Sr. High Week or Jr. High Week. And I would participate but I could also, just go play. I would ride my bike, or play carpet ball, or hang out with the lifeguard. I loved those years going to my own week of camp, often Deaned by Frank Goehringer or hanging out with older campers when my dad was staffing a week of camp.
My favorite week to be at though was MAD Week. I remember the very first week MAD Week with an old overhead projector, a CD Player with a crude microphone setup to amplify the sound and Eddie Cade as Jesus. The productions and the technology got progressively more impressive as I grew up. And when I became a camper of the week in 7th grade or so, I remember wanting to be involved with helping to manage the chaos of the production. I was a Stage Manager. I looked forward to my role every year. I looked forward to working alongside the directors and the campers. Not just learning lines or getting into costume but being responsible for helping pull it all together.
There were some years where I channeled my inner thespian. One of the hallmarks of MAD Week is that there were never enough males to round out all the male roles on the stage. And I remember in 2005, the Dean who had been running MAD Week for about eight years at that point, was retiring from Deaning. It was unthinkable. What was going to change? How would it be different? Would it still be as much fun or as impactful?
Well a great deal changed the following year. It was a transitional period for MAD Week. Chris Vickio and Joseph Goehringer Deaned together and completely changed the course of MAD Week productions for the foreseeable future. Prior to 2006, we had done comedic variety shows with a theme, musical numbers and a candlelight song that was our signature. And they were great, and fun and meaningful. But 2006 “Life in Death” was a full length, feature play that told the life story of William Featherston the author of “My Jesus, I Love Thee”. So much production, stage sets, costumes, microphones, musical numbers. And I was asked to be the Stage Manager for this huge show. I loved it. My two best friends and I ran the backstage like it was our destiny to do so.
The following year was my final year as a camper. I was a graduated high school student, and this was my final opportunity to be Stage Manager. I remember being at a wedding for some church members, and the Director for MAD Week was also there. I figured I would take the opportunity to solidify my position as Stage Manager. But she had other ideas. She needed me for a specific role she had in mind for that year’s production. I was not interested but I made an agreement with her that if she would help get me a spot on staff as a junior counselor, I would concede for this year and perform as an actor. I was unaware at the time that I would be typecast as Satan for the Godfather themed play. I was also unaware at the time that my future wife was attending MAD Week as a camper for the first time.
The following year I was on staff and fulfilled my role as Stage Director. I spent the next several years, prioritizing MAD Week above most else regarding time off from work or other family events. Until, 2012, the first year as a staff member, that I had to miss camp because of a job I had while in college. The following year, Frank Goehringer asked me if I would be interested in taking the reins and Deaning MAD Week moving forward. So as of 2014, I am now the Dean of MAD Week. We have done everything in our ability to enhance the production and performance, but we have focused more on the spiritual development aspects of our week. We’ve had some ups and downs and we’ve acquired some scars along the way. But it has been and continues to be an amazing week of camp that we hope will continue to grow and prosper as a beneficial part of the DCSC program.
MAD Week is no small undertaking. It is a unique week of camp compared to every other week at DCSC. Our students may be the same you would see at Jr. high or Sr. high Weeks. But the purpose of the week is different and is intense. We come together as a staff to teach and nurture our students to show them how they can use their God gifted talents and abilities to share the message of the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ in a unique and impactful way. We appreciate your prayers and support as the staff of MAD Week continues to improve our program and pour into the lives of the youth of Delmarva.
As for my involvement with the Board of Directors, I was fortunate to move back to Maryland in 2014 and immediately started attending the quarterly Board Meetings. When the previous Vice-President stepped down one particular November, I volunteered to take his place. Ever since, it has been my goal to enhance the communication and intentional planning of the Executive Committee with the Board at large and its supporting churches.
In 2018, my wife and I decided to provide additional support to the Camp by moving our lives closer to the camp and its supporting churches. We have been serving in ministry with Old Paths Church of Christ. We have been available to meet with church leaderships, youth and their families and able to be an available resource for Deans and volunteers at the camp during the Summer. During my time with the Board of Directors, we have been able to organize a great group of Deans, get several committees started on some much needed work, and begin some projects to improve the campgrounds and help restore attendance and confidence in our camp program.
My wife and I are expecting our first child this coming Spring and we are exciting to bring them to camp in 2021 to begin their life as a camp kid. Camp is a wonderful place to grow up and while we don’t have ziplines and hiking trails, we do have great facilities that are being maintained and upgraded as we are able and we have a great group of people leading each week as Deans and Staff minister to the campers and families that come to Delmarva Christian Service Camp.