Caution: This part of the story isn’t very fluffy and deals with the struggles we came upon in the beginning days of the camp. We didn’t see the Rainbow magic often at our humble start.
We pretty much hit the ground running, we found ourselves having to serve food to the public within hours of arriving. We had not planned for what was about to happen so we simply started out the Rainbow way.
The sun shown beautiful on the grassy lot that we had landed the evening before. Momma set to working on breakfast and we were rushed for breakfast just like the evening before. (Thank goodness for powdered eggs). As the camp wound up cleaning from the meal it became apparent we would have to all get together for council. We all spread the word to meet on the sand dune behind the camp. During the passing of the feather everyone introduced himself or herself, and after the 1st circle the question was posed “What are you good at”? Circus Julie (AKA Julie Blue eyes) from C.A.L.M. took the notes that day and we used those notes to begin a duty roster draft.
Eventually the question was posed for the kitchen name. Several humorous names were thrown out like “Alice’s Restaurant” (reference to Arlo Guthrie’s song for those not in the know). Then Heather B piped up “ Let’s call it Second Helping”. With that Flower said, “yes it’s a second helping of Rainbow for Hancock County”. One needs to know at this point we debated many things and aspects of what we were doing and debate we did in true Rainbow fashion. Finally the consensus was… We were a camp not a kitchen although we had family and friends over to eat, (A lot)! Thus “Camp Second Helpin’” was born. In this way we flew under the radar at first with the officials, and the Health department till we could get our ducks in a row.
Now I myself had come with some donated dry foods and computers, but I thought I would eventually volunteer working with computers. Not going to happen I eventually found out.
I resigned myself to working around the camps physical operation. I set to locating tarps procuring tents and finding palettes. A group calling them selves “Mississippi’s Forgotten” took us under their wing underneath their non-profit umbrella and helped us to get water & supplies from the old “New Waveland Café” site. Jim told me we had to come up with a name so they could start on the paperwork. When I told him of what we had decided on he told me it wasn’t Rainbow enough. (I had a good laugh at that thinking about the council just a few hours before).
I could write an entire textbook on waking straight into Babylon and just trusting in the inherent goodness of my fellow man but I quickly was learning. Something’s you just have to learn for yourself. The running of the camp actually fell into my lap just after meeting Steve Morell. Steve ran a big multi-million dollar operation out on the beach housing volunteers for the rebuilding as well as local residents. Several of our members had been claiming they had been off meeting with Karen Morell making arrangements to get us supplies. After three days of discussions with her I thought, “well if this is true I should go and meet this sister”.
When I arrived at the Morell Foundations camp Steve Morell met me at the front door. A more humble dedicated brother you’ll never meet. As we sat in the Foundations dining hall we talked about what kinds of things we might need and he encouraged me then to be our own non-profit. When I asked to meet his daughter with who my people had been having meetings with he told me she had been gone for 4 weeks back to Utah. Oooops… Well I was quite surprised with hearing that, and wanted to question the people involved as to where they had been going all day for the last 3 days. That was a big mistake! Hippies just like any other slice of Babylonian America don’t like being held up to the light and looked at too closely. Though we lost several crew with that episode I knew then it would be for the best. I continued to foster a friendship with Steve Morell in the months that followed and he became our first big supporter for fresh supplies.
We were now working 12 to 17 hour days; these were dealing directly with camp affairs. Manifesting supplies, building shelters for them, cooking, cleaning, a real running water dish-pit, etc… There were only 8 of us left not counting children and trust me the kids did their part too. During this part of our camps being I have to say I was proudest of the children in our camp. During circles they showed great forgiveness and wisdom, many times over the months to come they would keep the adults focused on our task at hand.
I was starting to make some really good connections within the community and other organizations working down there, like; we were getting canned foods and water. The local milk deliveryman had made arrangements to drop off a regular supply of fresh milk, cheese, dips and other dairy. Momma was delving into our escape fund now at this point buying produce and meats. I was still receiving payments from the company I had developed the website for in Indiana. $6,000 didn’t go far when your feeding that many people. And when we arrived the locals came to us instead of the Red-Cross mobile serving trucks. Eventually the Red Cross started bringing us their surplus so it would reach the public.
As well we received items like tents, camping stoves, heaters and the like. If you ever tried to be accountable for the actions of others forget it. You’ll be sadly disappointed. We were donated 16 cases of cook stoves, 8 to a case. Two stoves were donated to the public and the rest were pilfered by our crew and sold along with the gas to run them by crewmembers. We had a similar thing happen in the beginning with tents. The crew was given brand new 8 man tents and they hit the supply tent and had 4 to 5 extra tents in their tents. As to what fear-based emotion sparked the tent incident I cannot say, but the selling of supplies out the back door was more evident, we were quickly becoming A-camp. Remember this my friends never camp beside a beer store. I was starting to really loose faith despite the wonderful people I was meeting and I had hoped that more Rainbow family would arrive soon. That wouldn’t happen till after we moved to another location. On the day we were told we had to leave our location the 4 brothers that had been making “Backdoor money” with the supplies, cursed us and told us to worship our God anyway we wanted but they were going to take their Beer and liquor to the beach and worship their way. (We found out later they were found passed out later drunk and naked on the beach and had to stay in jail 90 days). So much for their God. It was then that Felipe’ showed up and introduced us to Monkey. The brother made a very good impression on us and stated he wanted to stay and help despite the odds. He and I were the last 2 men on the site and we had less than a week to find a location. The “Lakeshore” Baptist church offered us space to safely store our kitchen and supplies and we began to move supplies to their camp just the 2 of us. After 3 days of packing and moving we had barely scratched the surface of supplies that had been coming in, and the Sisters were working overtime alone in camp still feeding the public.
It was then that we met Tony Dixon of the Knights of Columbus. He had a crew of young collage students needing to do some kind of unskilled labor and they had just eaten in our camp so they helped Monkey and I finish storing the camp away. They worked late into the evening and had us packed up and stored away in one day. We didn’t know it then but that meeting would benefit us dramatically the next month when we found our new location.
The day before we vacated the lot that had once been “Camp Second Helpin’” we received our non-profit status papers from the Mississippi secretary of state. We were excited and sad both at the same time; we were poised to finally do something and no place to do it.
Next: A non-profit, an awesome location, good family and finally doing what we were meant to do…