Have you ever said "I've never done that before"?

There's a first time for everything. We experienced a first time recently. It wasn't our first time camping out with our camping club, Sunflower Ramblers, but it was the first time camping at Marion Lake, and the most memorable first came on Saturday.

It had rained off and on all day. Then in the evening, the clouds started to build up, looking very dark and began to thunder and lightning. The wind was picking up when the Marion County Sheriff drove into our camping area. He advised us to go to shelter because there were tornado warnings for our area.

Wow! Go to shelter! The shelter was at the foot of the dam, which was 2 or 3 miles away from our campsite. We made a quick bathroom call, grabbed my purse, locked our motor home and rode with another couple. When we got there, we were directed into concrete rooms -- long, windowless tunnel-shaped areas with a lot of supplies, storage and equipment. We learned if we ever have to go to a shelter again to take along something to sit on (maybe a folding stool), and also to take along a flashlight, a bottle of water and a camera. (I forgot mine).

It was interesting watching who else came to the shelter: men, women and children, young married couples, family pets (cats in carriers, dogs in the arms of their owners; one small dog was dressed in a sunsuit with a matching diaper.) All races and ages ranging from 3 weeks old to 97 years old.

The older lady said that after many years of camping with her husband and family, this was a first for her. She had never gone to a shelter before.

So firsts can come any time, even after you reach the age of 97 and beyond.

The people were quiet but worried and very tense. Two hours seems to be a very long time when you are underground, unable to see or hear what is going on outside.

We were praying for everyone, praying our lives would be spared to praise the Lord again, asking for protection for those who decided not to go to shelter. "We'll ride it out" they said, and stayed with their campers.

We were excused about two hours later. It was safe to return to the campsite. The threat of tornadoes had passed, although we found out one had touched down at Durham, about 7 miles cross country north of our camping spot, causing damage.

We also want to share more about this campout. A lot of time was spent visiting about family, the past, and health issues and playing cards and board games. The hostess had a get-acquainted game: She handed each camper the roll of toilet tissue, telling them to take what they needed. After everyone had tissue she announced that they had to tell something about themselves -- if they had five squares, they had to tell five things, two squares, two things, etc.

We might soon be members of the U-EE club, when you miss your turn off or don't ask directions and need to make a U-turn you renew your membership in the U-EE club.

Devotions on Sunday morning, by the lake, sun coming up over the water, birds singing, wind rustling in the trees -- a beautiful moment to worship as a group. Everyone came with something to share -- poems, stories, songs and prayers. We left with our hearts full of peace and love and wishes for health and happiness until we meet again.

We are never to old to experience a "first time." May your next first be interesting and something to share with family and friends. Happy "first times" to all.

Jim and Opal Flinn, Ellis, are members of the Generations Advisory Group.