Sea Scape

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“I brought home the Sea Scape motel sign … what are the odds of that?”
In the fall of 1969, as a 15-year-old freshman at Randallstown High School, Craig Garriott went on his first Young Life weekend in Ocean City, Maryland. After Skip Ryan’s Saturday night talk on the cross of Christ, Craig got up from his seat on the floor of the grand ballroom in the Sea Scape motel and walked out on the night beach with hundreds of other wide-eyed high-schoolers. In Craig’s own words, “We were told to observe 20 minutes of silence. How do you get 400 high school students to be quiet on Saturday night for 20 minutes? How ridiculous was that? But we did. I did. The cross stunned us to silence. I was slain by the love and grace of a God who loved me so much that He gave His only Son for my rebel heart. I asked God to forgive me for my sins. I told Him that my life was His and I would do whatever He wanted.”


Craig was among many high-schoolers who would attend a we
ekend camp at the Sea Scape motel on 16th Street in Ocean City over the years. In fact, only a year later, as a 16-year old, Craig would be part of the band up front playing his recently-acquired, hundred-year-old acoustic bass. “Joni Erickson (Tada) was one of my Young Life leaders, and somehow her family let me drive her there with my bass and her wheelchair in tow,” remembered Craig. It was during this weekend that five minutes before the last large group gathering on Sunday morning, Young Life leader Jimmy Cross asked Craig if he would share his testimony. According to Garriott, “It was good he didn’t give me any more time to think about it because standing before 400-500 peers was the most intimidating event of my life!”

All this took place at the Sea Scape motel, the go-to place for the Young Life fall weekend for high-schoolers from the Baltimore area in the late 60s and early 70s.

Almost 47 years later, the week of November 28, 2016, Craig and his wife, Maria, decided to visit Ocean City and were staying just two hotels north of the Sea Scape. According to Craig, “I was walking on the boardwalk in the early morning while it was still dark, and the Sea Scape was surrounded by a fence. I walked around the back and it was clear that its season of service was over; demolition had begun. The image of the white-lettered sign against the two-story brick façade brought back a flood of memories. I took my iPhone out and snapped some shots to capture the memory before it was gone. Then the thought occurred to me, ‘They are going to trash all this and the sign, too. What would it take to get that old sign?’ God heard my yearning.”

The next day the demolition was continuing but the building front with the sign was still intact. Two demolition men were standing there as Maria and Craig rode their bikes down the boardwalk. Craig stopped and asked, “Hey, what’s the cost for that sign?” Without much hesitation and sensing a financial opportunity, one man said, “$25.” Craig said, “Deal.” He said, “Come by before 5 p.m. and I’ll have it ready for you.” “I’ll be back to get it.” Craig said. In Craig’s words, “It all felt surreal. But it also felt providential, like a surprise of divine grace. I told these two hard-hatted, middle-aged, sun-weathered, calloused construction men, ‘I was 15 years old and I gave my life to Jesus at this hotel.’ I could tell by their stares that I sounded like some kind of Martian with antennas.”

At 5 p.m., Maria and Craig returned for the sign that was now leaning against the wall. However, one worker said, “Well, our boss promised the sign to a person who agreed to give him $50.” Without a breath of disappointment, Craig said, “Wow, well then, he should take it.” He started to walk away, grateful that at least he got a picture. Then the guy immediately said, “Well, I don’t think that person is coming back for it. So, if you want it, it’s yours for $25.” 

Today, the Sea Scape sign hangs just outside the Rev. Dr. Craig Garriott’s home office. Craig and his wife, Maria, planted Faith Christian Fellowship (PCA), an urban, multiethnic church in Baltimore, in 1981, where Craig still serves as pastor. Maria is on staff with Parakaleo, a global ministry to church-planting spouses, and is the author of A Thousand Resurrections: An Urban Spiritual Journey

This is Craig’s Young Life story. Perhaps you have a Young Life story that you would like to share? We would love to hear it at alumni@sc.younglife.org.