Anastacia Easterling, founding member and current director of Mountain Friends Camp, remembers swatting mosquitoes by the lake at FRIENDS CAMP (So. China Maine) in July 2008, hearing the laughter of happy campers and wishing there had been a similar camp in Utah where she grew up. From that wish, and through several deep conversations with friends and family, she brought an idea to the Senior Young Friend (link) continuing committee/winter meeting of a Quaker summer camp in the intermountain/four corners states. The SYF (high school and college aged) did what any motivated Quakers would do and passed a minute to establish a committee to explore starting a summer camp.
During the annual gathering of Intermountain Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (our regional Quaker Meeting) these young friends invited some older adult friends to join a two-day workshop to vision and plan for a summer camp. Together we created a five year plan to develop the human resources, capital, and organization of our summer camp, and worked in particular to prepare our trial week-long camping trip for June 2010. After our seminar we presented our ideas during a plenary session of the entire Meeting and gained approval to develop a summer camp under the auspices of IMYM, with a line item to accommodate donations and financial support for a few to attend Continuing Committee in January to plan this summer’s project. We also began brainstorming and networking with the Yearly Meeting to identify potential locations for our trial as well as our permanent camp. To collect and compare quantitative information we created a survey for interested individuals in our Yearly Meeting (link).
Some didn’t think our proposal to organize a pilot program with middle school aged campers in one year was feasible, but more encouraged and supported our efforts. Dominic and Miranda attended workshops at “Our Community” (now ShiiKoeii Community) building with strawbale and adobe and experience sustainable community living. The two families of “Our Community” were wonderful hosts for our first summer, welcoming 4 campers, 3 junior counselors and 4 adult staff. We camped in tents, cooked in their outdoor strawbale kitchen and learned about living simply in nature through experiencing compost, solar showers, natural building.
In 2011 Mountain Friends Camp continued to gain momentum. Our second year of camp, on a Quaker family’s land in Castle Valley Utah, was a powerful experience of community, collaboration, and simple living for 10 campers and 6 staff representing four states and 7 monthly meetings. Evaluations from campers and staff were thoughtful and enthusiastic, e.g. “Fantastic! I love it here with all of my friends and the beauty of nature”, and “I liked being with the other campers talking best. Everyone was so accepting and nice.”
See archive for full evaluations, reports to executive committee, newsletters and much more information.