As a teenager, I attended summer camp in the mountains of Northern California, among the tall pine trees, above Potter Valley where the Eel river snakes it's way through scrub oak and plenty of poison oak, too. Wild blackberry and sweet peas cover the fence posts along the hairpin curves that few vehicles but logging trucks navigate to bring fresh lumber to the valley.
Back then the hippies all but took over the hollers and backwoods. There was talk that the Hell's Angels had their headquarters there.
But in our little campground, campers from all over California slept in cozy, rustic cabins named after trees like Aspen, and Madrone, shared communal bathrooms, and swam on hot afternoons in the Eel river. Yes, it did have eels in it!
We listened to middle-aged men tell Bible stories out on an open pavilion with a backdrop of breathtaking scenery, sang folk songs, and were inspired to follow God and give our lives to Him. We went on hikes, practiced archery, played volleyball, and made crafts out of pine cones and lichen.
At the end of the week, on Friday night, there was always a hayride. You tried to ride next to that special someone, if possible. When we got back from the hayride, there was a campfire where everyone shared just how much the week had changed their perspective on life, and what they hoped to do about it. When it was your turn to share you threw your fagot on the fire to symbolize you were adding the the collective 'light'. Those of you unfamiliar with this term will chuckle at such a time. It existed. I lived and breathed the air up in those mountains with an almost hysteric joy. Just writing this makes me smell the pine needles and causes my palms to sweat a little.
Every important life decision I made, I made at camp. I am eternally grateful for my parents for taking me, and to everyone who worked tirelessly and often without pay, to make it happen.
Blessings upon blessings.