News from the Mountain Top
Dear Campers and Camp Supporters:
November brings fall to the mountain top with stunning autumn leaves and chilly black nights. Fall has always been my favorite season in the mountains.
November also is a time of gratitude. And I feel compelled to give thanks to so many of you for holding both the Camp and me in your loving thoughts most recently. I had no idea when I authored my last article on rocks that so many of you had “rock stories” to share with me. Thirty of you wrote me with childhood rock stories, including heartfelt stories of those precious folks who are the rocks in your lives.
Thank you for reaching out with your cherished stories. It was fun to discover that I was not the only kid on the block who held onto a few special rocks or who felt a bit wobbly after the loss of a special person—your rock of support. If you missed my rock story, it is worth the read. Click here to access it.
At the time I wrote the story on rocks, I had no idea that a mountain of rocks and mud would soon be flowing down into camp, and that I was just weeks away from losing the most important and stabilizing rock in my life. In August, the camp experienced a torrent of sludge, rocks, and rain rushing down the mountain slope and into campus, creating a month’s work of cleanup.
And soon after the flood on the mountain top came to an end, so too did my husband’s life end, leaving me without my partner and my rock. Again, so many of you reached out to me with words of support and stories of personal loss. There is no denying I was, and still am, on shaky ground after losing my husband, who was my rock of support for close to four decades. The work to get camp up and operational has been a good distraction for me but soon I must pay attention to my loss and my grief.
I did get to hold Bob’s hand and stroke his head just hours before his death. He whispered to me, “Love you to the moon and back, my bride.” COVID pneumonia had taken over his lungs at this point and a whisper was all he could manage. I can barely think of the moment without drowning in tears. He was trying to fight his way through the pneumonia, but his heart grew so weak.
Bob passed away one day shy of our 35th wedding anniversary. The memories of extraordinary moments in my marriage far outweigh any dull and listless times. And I find myself thinking quite fondly of our wedding day in the German Black Forest, August 1986, when I was whisked away in a carriage to a chapel on a breezy mountain top.
If you would like to know more of my wedding fairytale, click here for more photos and a story, and perhaps you shall learn something of my life that I rarely share with others. I realize there is nothing that can replace the absence of someone precious, and that the emptiness and deep missing is just a place in time—something to move through. In a way, the pain is a gift. It seems to keep Bob close in my heart.
During this time of Thanksgiving, please know that your loving cards with healing messages arrived in my mailbox at a time when I felt deeply alone. Your words will be treasured by me for years to come. Your continued volunteer work has made it possible for camp to reopen for a few weekends this fall—a good trial run for opening fully in spring 2022. And let me not forget to thank you for supporting our fundraising efforts as well. For it is your generous giving to camp that is paying the bills while we have no income. Please continue to support camp financially for the next year or more as we operate at a reduced capacity.
Campers leave messages in the woods
Future site of Homet Lodge 1961
I do hope to see all of you in Camp on Saturday, May 14th, for our 60th anniversary celebration and open house. Come up for our homecoming and enjoy food, fellowship, activities and more. I know after the sadness and heartache of COVID, I am looking forward to celebrating something positively wonderful—CAMP!
Your Beloved Camp
Bob, Janet, and Daisy Doodle
Getting Camp in shape during the COVID shutdown
We sure do miss the continuous stream of happy campers de Benneville Pines has gotten accustomed to serving over the past 60 years. However, it isn’t easy to maintain and upkeep beds, cabins, the kitchen, and common areas when the camp is busy with guests and activities.
While the COVID closure has created a financial challenge for Camp operations without a steady income stream, it has given the staff the much-needed downtime to get projects done. Dedicated project money had been sitting in a special savings account for five years, just waiting for “down-time” to get the work done. The COVID closure gave staff and volunteers that gift of time, and your generous support has kept Camp alive.
Craig’s Cabin got a roof-to-floors makeover. In Homet Lodge, the kitchen was taken apart, cleaned, repaired, and painted, the bathrooms were painted and new partitions installed, and common areas were cleaned out and reorganized. Attic storage areas and the store were inventoried and organized, the sound system was upgraded, and the church tapestries were cleaned and rehung.
Cabins were painted, the decks re-stained, bunks refurbished, and new carpet laid in the bedrooms. Road cracks were filled, and the roads slurry-sealed.
The infirmary and the arts and crafts buildings were emptied, inventoried, and restocked, and fire sheds and equipment were checked, cleaned, repaired, and replaced as needed. Rockers were re-stained and repainted. The labyrinth and archery range were cleaned up of fire and mud damage and reconstructed like new, the welcome bear received a new pedestal, Wayne’s Way arch base was repaired, and the hot tub deck was recoated.
A decomposed granite trail was installed between Cabin 8 and the Library, and trail lights were refurbished.
Raking, tree trimming, and brush clearing have taken an enormous volunteer and staff effort, and it will be ongoing for many months to come.
All in all, your old familiar camp is ready to embrace you lovingly and envelop you in fresh surroundings.
From virtual to in-person!
In August, before Camp returned with its “soft opening”, over 40 campers enjoyed one last summer retreat with Virtual Summer Break Camp for Adults.
As it turned out, the year of learning “to Zoom” paid off, as a powerful summer rainstorm sat on top of the mountain and moved tons of rock and debris downhill and into Camp. The highway was closed, and no one could visit the area.
With the theme “Through the Ages”, campers enjoyed three days of workshops on being in relation with land, people, and time, and nuggets of wisdom learned from the pandemic. Afternoons and evenings were filled with presentations on the history of environmentalism from the 1960s on, Native culture, honoring water as medicine, geology and our relation to the mountain where Camp is located, how to write your memories of camp, and women in movies since 1961. Campfire gatherings offered storytelling, six decades of music, and Camp reminiscing. More music, social hours, and sharing of pictures of campers from their earlier days rounded out and filled the days.
Get a glimpse of the fun here >>>
With September came the much-awaited official re-opening of Camp. Then, a U. S. Forest Service forest closure order delayed that opening. Sadly for many of you, we had to cancel Yoga Camp.
- Finally, on October 1st, de Benneville Pines welcomed 27 campers with Art Groove, a six-day camp of learning and creativity.
- UU Young Adult Camp followed with a long-standing de Benneville Pines tradition as 36 active UU adults ages 18-35 gathered to reconnect, steward the land, discuss social actions, laugh, dance, and reflect.
- Music in the Mountains provided music, music, and more music with 45 pickers and grinners gathering for concerts, informal jams, and workshops.
- Thanksgiving Family Camp is November 25 – 28. This upcoming camp, which is already full, is the final camp of the year. After nearly two years of uncertainty, sadness, stress, and strife, how fitting it is to celebrate with a camp dedicated to fellowship, remembrance, and gratitude.
And for more joy of Camp, save the date for a day of fun, friendship, and celebration.
- Camp’s 60th Anniversary Celebration, “60 Years of Love”, is Saturday, May 14, 2022, live and in-person at your beloved Camp de Benneville Pines.
Stay up-to-date and get details about Camp happenings and events on the website’s What’s New and Calendar pages.
Campers Say and Do
Giving thanks for volunteers and supporters
Through the many months Camp was closed, volunteers continued to share their love through thousands of hours of labor. They joined Camp staff or worked alone to complete many of the tasks listed above In “Around Camp.”
View more pictures of volunteers in action here >>>
And those of you who have contributed monetary support are making it possible to “stay afloat” and sail on to the better days ahead.
We could never have accomplished what we have without your help.
Below is our message (through Natalie Merchant) to all of you for your continuing love and support.
Kind and Generous >>>
The Natural World
To everything there is a season
Fall is a season of beauty, reflection, gratitude, honoring native cultures, creating family traditions, wearing sweaters, enjoying warm seasonal foods, sitting by a cozy fire, and much more. As you move about and feel comfortable socializing again, try new activities or resurrect old ones.
Click on the link below for a list of simple and gratifying autumn activities to do with family, friends, or by yourself.
Fall Activities >>>
Watch this Video
Even after months of difficulty, we have many reasons to give thanks and be grateful.
Share this little ditty with everyone in your life to remind you of all that is good, fun, and important in life.
Continuing the Legacy
Share Your Love
We appreciate the love and support Camp has received, and we know you want to get back to your beautiful and beloved home on the mountain top.
After Thanksgiving, de Benneville Pines has no more scheduled camps until the spring when, once again, we will see smiling faces and hear joyful voices.
Until then, you can help keep essential operations running and have your donation matched by contributing to the Share Your Love campaign in honor of Camp’s 60th anniversary.
Learn more here >>>
Keep the spirit of de Benneville Pines and yoUUr faith alive in your heart.