July 13-27, 2013, Friends young and old gathered at Timberline Trails in Tincup, Colorado
for the fourth year of Mountain Friends Camp. At 10,186 feet high we met once again on the property of our hosts, Curt and Joy, just under the continental divide. Thirty-seven Friends (week one) and forty Friends (week two), ranging in age from 9-68, worked together, played together, and shared in the spirit during camp this year. Quakers, seekers, and non-Quakers alike practiced living the Testimonies while enjoying and exploring the natural setting of these high Rocky Mountains.
The early morning troubadours awakened us with their lovely and sometimes inventive singing. Other great songs were written and sung by counselors and campers alike for fun, creativity night and/ or special occasions, like birthdays, etc.
A sweet aroma from the kitchen greeted us before meals and the menus were always a surprise. The hard working kitchen staff did an excellent job accommodating all of our various dietary preferences with their healthy, mostly organic, slow food cooking that filled our tummies and gave us opportunities to try new tastes.
We met daily for meeting for worship after breakfast, taking turns to clerk and sharing affirmations all around. Our plork (play and work) projects this year included rebuilding steps, fixing railings, painting the bathhouse, re-gardening the gathering circle, and an environmental stewardship trash pickup. (On our way back from canoeing, we stopped and picked up a big pile of crushed cans from a stream and admired our work afterwards.) Kitchen plork was popular, an opportunity to learn solar/vegan baking; wild foods gathering and preparing; and chopping, mixing and cooking new and invented recipes for our yummy lunches.
We had many hiking excursions to the Lily Pond, Goldcup, and the small reservoir for canoeing. Visiting Tincup to learn about local history was great. Morning exercises, group games, sports, and arts/crafts kept us all moving around and busy. Having secret friends made everyone happy, exchanging notes, services, and crafts each day and, at the week’s end, discovering your partner!
Small groups met daily for worship sharing, exploring questions of a spiritual nature and ‘checking in’ for attention and support. This helped us form closer friendships and take responsibility later for chore groups, etc.
The volleyball court and the community room were places for group gatherings and free time activities. Week one found us waking up on ‘backwards day’ to a campfire and s’mores before a spaghetti breakfast! A big part of camp during week two was making plans and decorations for the surprise celebration of the wedding anniversary of Ana (camp director) and Ariel. For dinner we made a potluck ‘stone’ soup, with a story/song for each item put into the pot. Square dancing before bedtime finished off this night of special sharing.
Our time at camp embodied simplicity because we had only what we needed– we were away from distractions like electronics/social media and could focus on nature and ourselves in community. Peace was present in the natural setting, as well as in the satisfaction of working hard with others to accomplish a difficult task. We set norms before camp and helped remind each other to stick with them and interact with integrity, like remembering to take only your share of morning cocoa!
The activities, games, songs, and stories we shared help build the relationships essential to having a loving community. The campers, counselors in training and staff all upheld the value of equality; each person was respected when they wanted to share something, regardless of age or experience. From composting our food scraps, recycling, and removing litter from the grounds and nearby hiking trails, we were able to practice good stewardship. Mountain Friends Camp provided a place for everyone to grow as Quakers and as people, and we all had a lot of fun doing so!
Mountain Friends Camp Epistle Committee, 2013