Letter from a Camp Mom

Dear Friend of Mountain Friends Camp,

I hope this letter finds you well and surrounded by love, light and laughter, wherever you may be. As the land sleeps and the days begin to lengthen, the MFC board is busy planting the bulbs that will grow into next year’s camp. We are so grateful to all the campers, families, staff, volunteers and donors who share their light with us each year. If you have one of those in your family, give them a big hug from us!

In this cozy season of gratitude, my own little family gives thanks for many things ~ among them our far-flung Quaker community, and Mountain Friends Camp. Even now, my 10-year old son Orion is singing snatches of MFC songs, regaling me with stories of camp that I have heard a dozen times, and planning epic skits for next year. (Anybody else remember “Manhattan Friends Camp”? Or Ana and Ari’s anniversary? Or spaghetti tacos!!??) In preparation of the new year, his father and I are also thinking of next year’s camp ~ the saving, prioritizing, and late-night conversations are well underway. What will best serve his growth as a person?

Here’s what keeps coming up about MFC:best reduced size (6)

  1. Fun. It’s fun. Like, really fun.

  2. Plork. Plork is so cool!

  3. Quaker Values. Nowhere else in his life encompasses the Quaker values of peace, community, simplicity, integrity, equality and stewardship all at once.

  4. Inner Light. MFC nurtures the light within him and strengthens that quiet inner voice so essential to a meaningful life.

  5. Staff. The staff is extraordinary ~ we want him to grow up to be like them!

  6. Teenagers. The teens at MFC are as rare and precious as gold. Where else can he learn to navigate the coming waters of teenhood with graciousness, simplicity, playfulness and service? They are silly, kind, thoughtful, and hard workers. They love themselves, each other, and the littler ones. He may not know he is looking up to them, but we do, and we are so thankful.

  7. Relationships. Orion is building long-term relationships at MFC with staff and other campers. Friendships based on Quaker values will help him keep a calm center in the storms of life, and give him friends all over the country who care about humanity, ecology, and service as much as he does.

So yes, Mountain Friends Camp is important to us.But here’s the thing:without scholarship help, MFC would not be a priority; it would be a pipe dream. Twice now, MFC has come through with scholarship assistance for us so that Orion could attend. Thanks to generous donors all over the region, (and some help from his grandparents) we have twice been able to say “Yes!” to Orion and watch him caper about the living room in delight. I am now honored to serve MFC in return by sitting on the board and working to make sure that every child who wants to can come to camp. I learned that Mountain Friends Camp has not turned away a request for financial assistance yet, and I hope we never have to ~ times have been hard and Orion might need assistance for another year as we get our feet under us. And there are far needier families than we, with children who have only dreamed of going to summer camp, for whom Mountain Friends Camp could be an island of peace and play in a year of hardship.

As lights of gratitude and celebration are sparkling within homes and hearts all over the world, please consider sharing some of your light with MFC in the form of a donation. Our financial needs are modest but substantial, as we work to insure that MFC can continue to welcome an increasingly diverse group of young people. In 2015, over 50% of campers received need-based financial aid, and we plan to increase our outreach to under-served communities in the region.

One of the testimonies we value at camp is stewardship~ of our precious environment and our own resources as a community. We envision a future in which my 3-year old will share his brother’s experience at camp, and their children will one day come home from Mountain Friends Camp with stories of their own. After four locations in three states in our first five years of camp, we dream of a home for MFC where we can settle in and focus on nurturing the light in each generation that comes our way.

Yes, those are some big, meaningful goals: Service and Sustainability. And with your help, we think we can do it. The board has been working very hard laying the groundwork, and is so grateful for all the support we have received. We have recently completed the process of acquiring our non-profit status, and your donations are tax-deductible just in time for the end of the year!  If you are called to donate to us at this time, here are some ways you can do so:

-$56 will pay for one week of food for one hungry, hard working camper

-$125 will pay for enough tie-dye and silkscreen supplies to decorate t-shirts all summer

-$546 is the real cost for one week at camp. (We charge $400 for the week, and offer camperships as needed to families who need additional assistance)

-$800 will pay for Wilderness First Responder training for a medic at camp

-$5,800 will pay for our space for this summer!
Campfire
Click here to visit our donations page, with options for donating by check or online via Paypal, as well as matching and other forms of donation.

Thank you all for sharing with us in all the ways that you do, and we hope to see many of you this summer!

Yours,
Bonny Moss, MFC Board Member and Mother of a Camper

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Reflections from Campers and Staff 2014

Mountain Friends Camp 2014, reflections from campers and staff.

“Amazing aspects. 23 young Friends with some friends in the mix with lots of grown-up to
help; we were able to maintain relatively silence for an hour a day for the seven days I shared. I was impressed and the spirit-lead communication during meeting for worship felt inspired! After the hour of silence we had time for affirmations and conflict resolution. It was so effective to start with praise and frame conflict in solution focused communication. It worked and conflicts were resolved, while (F)friends were held in the light as afterthoughts and forethoughts when conflict emerged.

(F)friendships were forged and the entire time was both exhaustive and inspired in ways that will stay in my heart for years to come. I felt some irony as the continuing committee representative advocating for non-support, while I personally benefitted so greatly from camp. I have decided to ask Las Cruces Meeting for Worship (with the intention of business) to reconsider our choice and include this funding in our IMYM allotment. I think the way to raise Quaker kids is to support them- even if we don’t directly benefit from this support. Knowing that this is happening creates a sense of peace in my heart in ways that I cannot express. I would invite us all to have such an innocent and invaluable experience. Not exactly one paragraph but as close as I can get.

Love and Light,

Erica, adult volunteer”

“There are so many amazing aspects of camp it’s going to be hard to just pick a few. Though I’m sure we all missed Tin Cup, the site was beautiful. I loved all the hikes and getting to sleep several feet off the ground was quite enjoyable. And last but not least, it’s the people that make that wonderful place what it is. From the youngest camper to the oldest coordinator/visitor, each and every person contributes their own spark that makes the camp glow with an irresistible warmth.

For me what makes MFC a Quaker camp is the undeniable sense of equality. It’s amazing, a 5th grader can feel comfortable talking to a senior in high school, which definitely is not something that happens often in an everyday setting. MFC no doubt,has effected me as a person, and as a Quaker. When I get back from camp I seem to forget that not everybody out there has the same beliefs as I do. I see people saying awful things to each other and physically harm them as well. It’s hard to watch,but i try to keep up that never ending feeling of love at camp for even the people who were the ones harming others. With that said, since I got back from camp I have sometimes gotten strange looks for my numerous hugs.

And last a thanks to CO Regional Meeting for their support and donations. It’s so amazing for them to do so. I hope that the donations continue and that they know how much we appreciate their support.

-Nicola, camper”

Quotes from Evaluations

Campers: “MFC will affect my life after camp , because I will take the Quaker testimonies every where I go.”

“I liked meeting people. I learned how to be a better person. I made friends.”

“It’s a lot of fun. They included everyone. They have awesome food. It will affect my life by using all of the SPICES. It’s the Most Amazing thing in the World. I love Mountain Friends Camp”

“I like the activities, the ice-cream, the soda, all the people here, all the meals, and my cabin and small group and the CIT alien day”

“Maybe I’ll do my dishes more when I get home from camp”

Staff: “The kids were amazing and embody Quaker ideals in ways that could inspire ANY meeting.”

“I really liked the Shaggy Peak hike & the overnight, as well as the tradition of all staff having an equal voice in program planning (instead of staff just showing up to director planned activities) I hope these traditions continue.”

Beverley (68)

Beverley (255)

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Marathon Matching Grant Challenge!

Dave Wells is a Friend from Tempe Monthly Meeting, a parent of Mountain Friends Camp campers since our first 2010 pilot program, a fantastic vegan cook who brought solar ovens to our 2013 camp, and a marathon runner too. On April 19 Dave is running the Wenatche Marathon in memory of two beloved IMYM Friends who have recently passed away, Carl Wallen from Tempe Meeting and Rebecca Henderson from Santa Fe Meeting, and as a fundraiser for Mountain Friends Camp. Thanks to Dave and an anonymous donor, all donations up to the first $1500 will be matched dollar for dollar, so give now and mark “marathon fundraiser” in the memo line to double your impact! We rely on donations from our entire community to help Mountain Friends Camp grow sustainably, and remain affordable for lower income families. All donations and pledges received by the end of April are eligible for the matching grant; for more information or to make a pledge, contact our treasurer Eric Wright.

As one returning camper told me recently, “at Mountain Friends Camp, not only do I feel accepted for who I am, I feel cherished for who I am.” Won’t you help more young people come to Mountain Friends Camp, where they can experience a supportive Quaker community, enjoy simple outdoor living, and make lasting friendships?
Thanks Dave, and we’ll all be cheering for you on race day!
Cooks 2013
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How Time Flies, When You’re Growing Quaker Leaders!

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Mountain Friends Camp 2013 is quickly approaching. We’re putting together another amazing group of summer staff, including some of our favorites from 2012 and newcomers from outside the IMYM sphere. Camper registrations are coming in fast as well. There are only 5 more spots for week one, so if you’ve been meaning to register, send in your paperwork or contact me today!
An exciting milestone for me this spring is reading counselor in training (CIT) applications from several of our pilot program campers. These wonderful young people were 12 years-old in 2010, and made our first year so much fun. Now they’ve grown up into new positions of leadership and responsibility. One CIT application reads:

I’ve been coming to Mountain Friends Camp since the year it opened it’s doors, and I want to continue to enjoy a wonderful summer there again. I also want to get to be more of a role model for younger campers, and learn how to become a more responsible person. . . I enjoy painting and drawing, so I would be more than willing to help lead any art workshops or even do some face painting. I also love to hike and play sports, and could help supervise either activity. :)”

We had many goals in mind when Mountain Friends Camp was nothing more than a blip of a committee and big dreams-living Quaker testimonies, deepening our spiritual connections, playing cooperatively, working joyfully, increasing nature intelligence, changing the paradigm-and a central component was growing Quaker leaders. I know I have grown in my four years as a summer camp director, and I’m so proud to see the commitment, compassion and creativity our campers and CITs bring to the camp community. We are lucky to have them at Mountain Friends Camp, and I know they let their inner Light shine wherever they go.

Campers at Ariel at the Wolf Sanctuary

2010 campers with Ariel at the Wolf Sanctuary

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Epistle 2012

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To all Friends everywhere,

Thirty friends (week one) and twenty-eight friends (week two) gathered in the shadow of the Swatch Range in Tincup, Colorado from June 23 to July 7, 2012 for fun, community, and testimony of our Quaker values.Mountain Friends Camp week 1 group pic

As the sun rose each morning, friends were awakened by the joyous voices of singing counselors spreading inspiration. As everyone gathered in a quiet ring before each meal, lovingly made to suit every dietary need, the smells of the meal filled our hearts and prepared us for the coming activities.

The volleyball court was a place of gathering and free time activities every day. As sand flew up and screaming and shouting filled the air, the volleyball bounced back and forth and our ever-shifting “Quaker Rules,” made sure that everyone had a good time playing.

The collaboration of the group was truly remarkable. We worshipped every day, with each person’s silence illustrated by a doe walking in the woods during one memorable meeting. When we broke the silence with affirmations one could tell by the meeting of eyes across the circle that a powerful sense of unity existed among us.

Mother Nature challenged our spirits during both of our all-day outings. Pine trees blew in the wind and hail pelted the tarps that our groups huddled under. At times, it seemed as though the elements were relentless. But the rain was appreciated given the fires blazing in other parts of Colorado, and being cold was the least of our concerns because we had laughter and hugs to warm our hearts. The canoeing adventures were particularly memorable. When the sky cleared and boats were pushed into the water, everyone took a turn paddling around the placid lake. And at the end of the day we cuddled by a warm fire in the rustic lodge with hot cocoa and singing into the night.

Another particularly memorable activity was playing “predator and prey” in the woods behind camp. Carnivores stalked omnivores and herbivores who hid breathlessly behind young aspen trees and who cooperatively protected one another by darting out and distracting the outnumbered predators. Food and sustenance wandered the woods while human impact and natural disaster played their part too.

Hiking, plork (play+work) and arts and crafts were daily events, as was having a “secret friend” where we exchanged notes and trinkets. Of course plork, which followed morning meeting, never seemed like work as we cleaned, shoveled, hammered and chopped together, and hiking opportunities allowed us all to be carried away by the majestic beauty of the high Rocky Mountains.

In Tincup, Colorado, nestled at 10,186 feet warm hearts huddled around a fire that will blaze for many years to come.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mountain Friends Camp 2012 Epistle Committee
Maygen, Henry, Jonas, Ceryn, Tynan, Will and Julia

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Quaker Road: Homeward Bound

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Our next stop after Flagstaff was the Durango area. On Wednesday afternoon we met up with Cortez Friend Linda R. for a tasty lunch, during which she shared some of the insights she has gained from several years of running a day camp in the area. Linda is hoping to free up her schedule to join us for a session this summer! We could tell what an asset she’ll be to Mountain Friends Camp from our long conversation about how to integrate more nature and ecology into our programming. Although plans for a potluck and MFC presentation at the Durango meetinghouse that night fell through, the Telep family welcomed us into their home outside of Durango for the night. We cooked a meal and enjoyed good conversation and great music (of course!) before heading to bed. Many thanks for a restful stop! We left some brochures with them to share with the Durango Friends that we missed. The next morning we got back on the road, as we were trying to get to Salt Lake City by that evening. We stopped at Moab Friend Cynthia S.’ house to scarf down the lunch we’d packed and to chat about camp. Though the visit was short, it was a very pleasant one. Cynthia updated us on Moab Meetings discussions about MFC and potential campers and staff from the community. Castle Valley, where Mountain Friends Camp was last year, is just outside of Moab– so of course we had to stop! The sight of the rusty canyon walls and the winding Colorado River brought back many happy memories as we made our way to the site of MFC ’11; so did the towering rock formations looming above the valley.

Spring 2012, Fruit Trees!

The first thing we saw upon arriving at the house was the sign that Ariel and a camper painted last year; the next things we noticed were the rows of baby fruit trees swaying happily in the wind. The trees were planted in holes that the staff and campers of MFC labored over last summer–cracking that hard, red dirt was no easy task! But we managed to, and can see the results of all that sweat and love just a short time later. We snapped a few pictures to share, picked up some camp supplies that were left over from last year, and continued on our way to Salt Lake City, where we were hosted by the Box-Viavant family.

Ana arose early Friday morning to attend a conference to which she won a full scholarship, the Utah Society of Fund Raisers “Fund Raising Day”. It was eyeopening and encouraging to interact with over a hundred professional fund raisers–and we’ve already started using some new outreach techniques for camp! The workshops and seminars lasted all day, and that evening we had dinner with our hosts and shared pictures of camp and ideas for the future of MFC. The next morning we had breakfast with Salt Lake Friend Charlene W., and then headed back home to Logan. The whirlwind three-week trip was over, with a grand total of 15 meetings visited, 8 potlucks held, 11 presentations given, over $3000 in pledged donations from four individuals and three Meetings, and many, many Friends reached. Thank you everyone for your hospitality and support of Mountain Friends Camp–we couldn’t have done it without you!

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Friends in the Sunny (and Snowy) Southwest

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Tuesday April 3: We woke up to a snowy Albuquerque, said goodbye to Karen and headed down south to Las Cruces. Several Friends were out of town, so our potluck was down to three people, but we were very glad for the chance to connect with Micki W and learn from her years of experience with Farm and Wilderness Quaker camps in Vermont. Micki encouraged Mountain Friends Camp to continue and reach out to more non-Quakers, and generously invited us to visit her at Farm and Wilderness in the future! Genevieve and Paul were excellent hosts that evening; we were glad to share their home and pecans from their own trees. Next up was Silver City, where Gila Friends Meeting had arranged an informal lunch meeting to share ideas about Mountain Friends Camp. We enjoyed a long conversation with Marion and Jamie N, and Harold J about our plans for camp, the support from Gila Friends, and how MFC and Monthly Meetings can protect the young people in our care. Harold shared insights gained from five summers working for the Baltimore Yearly Meeting Quaker summer camps; one particularly salient concept he shared concerned how, through mindful discussions and community bonding, the staff “recreate” the program and prepare to nurture and guide campers each summer. We look forward to further discussion with Harold and other Friends from other Quaker summer camps. Wednesday evening we stayed with Nancy, Jim and Milagre C and their sweet dog Coco. The fresh green salsa and tortilla chips were outstanding, as was the conversation and hospitality! We were pleasantly surprised when Milagre asked about coming to camp, as her summer was already fully booked, but we’ll be happy to have her as a counselor in training should she find a way to join us.
Our visit in New Mexico drew to a close, and we pressed onward to Arizona. Tucson was alive with birds, blooming cacti, and of course more wonderful Quakers. Eileen H hosted us and is encouraging the Young Friends in Pima Meeting to consider coming to camp. On Friday evening we met with Pima Friends Jane K and Meredith for discussion and early dinner; later in the evening we shared slides and conversation with three Pima Friends at the Meetinghouse, one who took a brochure for her grandkids and one who felt led to give us a very generous donation. Thanks Pima Meeting! As at so many of our mid-week stops, we regretted not being able to join Friends at Meeting for Worship, but were glad to connect with a few and plant seeds of interest and involvement with our mission. April 7: Saturday saw us in Tempe dyeing Easter Eggs with two families from Tempe Meeting whose kids have been MFC campers since the very beginning. These same great campers and their friends at Tempe Meeting made plans to accompany Ana to Phoenix Friends Meeting on Sunday to share with their (much younger) youth group the Quaker fun that is Mountain Friends Camp. We enjoyed a great breakfast potluck, then joined the First Day group for an Easter story and discussion followed by our Mountain Friends Camp presentation. Thanks to Kim, Adrianna and Brianna for leading the discussion! After our talk the patient Phoenix kids (finally) got to search for eggs. After meeting some stayed to spray paint “MFC” on t-shirts. Look for more opportunities to make or buy a MFC shirt at IMYM this June!

Tempe Young Friends visited Phoenix Meeting with Ana to share their enthusiasm for MFC

Making MFC T-Shirts in Phoenix

Meanwhile, Ariel drove to Flagstaff on Saturday afternoon and arrived just in time to join hosts Kay and Ted B for a wonderful dinner and a trip to the annual Recycled Art Festival! The next morning she joined Flagstaff Friends for Meeting for Worship and a potluck; after the potluck, Flagstaff Meeting was treated to the MFC slideshow. Flagstaff Friends had decided to give a substantial donation to Mountain Friends Camp, and after the slideshow Clerk Steve F took the opportunity to present Ariel with the donation. It was quite the photo op—too bad no one had a camera! Ana caught a ride with Vickey F to Flagstaff later that afternoon, and we went on a hike with Steve, and more Flagstaff Friends Pam and Jim. Vickey and Steve hosted us that night and showered us in warmth and hospitality and pro golf on tv!

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