The song One Tin Soldier tells the story of a conflict between the Valley People and the Mountain People. The Mountain People, willing and ready to share the riches buried on their mountain. The Valley People, willing and ready to claim the gold for their own. After a bloody affair, the Valley People kill the Mountain People and win their just reward. But when they unearth the treasure buried deep beneath the stone, they find a much different treasure than they expected; the words “Peace on Earth.”
This summer’s Camp Theme was “Mountain People” and how fitting a theme for a place and a people hidden on the mountain in the cozy confines of our outdoor Cathedral, Camp Tuttle. In the midst of a global pandemic, the Camp Tuttle staff cautiously facilitated day camps and overnight backpacking trips for youth ages 10-18. It certainly looked different than previous years at camp. No bunking in cabins, no ropes course events, no hustle and bustle of mealtimes in the lodge. But despite its differences, this summer remained as fulfilling and fun as every year that has come before.
When given the opportunity to reflect on this year’s theme, campers commented and related ideas about the struggle between Mountain People and Valley People that they see every day, oftentimes within themselves. We spoke at length with each other about the decision that every person is given during the day to make choices that support kindness, justice, gratitude, and resilience–the choices of a Mountain Person. During a particularly poignant discussion, a camper offered, “I think I’m a Valley Person and a Mountain Person.” The camper said, “sometimes I get angry.” Other campers agreed that it is hard to be just a Mountain Person and that there is often an internal struggle between two opposing sides. Campers also agreed that when you surround yourself with Mountain People, it’s easier to be kind and just, and that it is also possible to teach and warm the hearts of Valley People. Campers talked about the treasures buried in their hearts and homes. Some of the treasures mentioned were family, optimism, kindness, and self-worth.
You won’t be surprised when I tell you that the attitude and behavior of campers this summer was the epitome of Mountain People. Campers were gracious, excited, and energetic. They got to explore new uncharted spaces in camp where they built forts, bridges, and lasting memories.
Some campers made the strenuous trek up to Twin Lakes and enjoyed a night under the stars after an afternoon of games, laughter, and great snacks. Lakeside and under the setting sun, during a conversation about communication and vulnerability, high school aged campers were given the chance to express ideas and opinions about topics ranging from pet peeves to what mark they hope to leave on the world. The youth in this community are resilient and strong. I am excited to see what the future brings for them and look forward even more to seeing them become leaders in our community.
I would like to personally thank every camper, parent, and patron that made this summer possible. It provided a space for reflection and fun, which is hard a thing for young people to find amidst the crisis of today. We are doing our best to prepare more safe and fun spaces for kids in the upcoming months. Please stay up to date through Facebook and Instagram. We will see you soon!
Ingrid VanZanten, Camp Tuttle Director