Yesterday, I became a member of an alliance dedicated to preserving some incredible land outside of Boulder for future generations... I can take clients, children or adults, up to this incredible 640 acre parcel of land and get to know this place deeply... as deeply as I knew Camp Takahano, the camp I grew up going to.
|Inspiration Hill at Takahano, with The Rocks in the background|
And, here come the tears. What are these tears about? Camp Takahano was my home away from home. I knew every acre of that 200 acre camp. I knew where the streams led, where the wild mint grew, where the spring was and the monkey bridge that led the way toward the Appalachian trail.
|The Monkey Bridge|
Takahano was where I felt the most joy of anywhere. Takahano was the home of so many memories, of so many magical places hidden from view.... It was my escape from a difficult school life where I was constantly tormented by bullies. I learned about knots and knives and firebulding, started assisting in those classes by age 10, was teaching them on my own by 13, and was first paid to be the “lead outdoor skills instructor” at a Camp Fire camp at 16.
|The Pond behind the Farm House|
|The tree house|
When Takahano went up for sale, I sobbed. I was 18, and wondering how the hell I could afford to purchase that 200 acre piece of land so it could continue to be the source of so much for kids in the Washington, DC area. I was petrified that it would be purchased by a developer and that my 200 acres of heaven would turn into a housing development. This grief of losing Takahano has seated itself deep into my being.
|Meals around the fire behind the farm house|
|Camp Fire's logo from my childhood|
|Camp Fire's logo today|
Rosemary has hundreds of kids attending summer camp as I write this. She has created a resource for thousands of kids and their families, as I sit here across the country and grieve about what was lost. As I look at Camp Fire's website, and Rosemary's Facebook page, my tears become tears of joy... and of hope... What do I know about what has happened with Camp Fire in the 16 years since I graduated from high school and left home? Very little, honestly. In the 16 years since I moved away, Camp Fire's Patuxent Area Council has revived and grown, and is thriving in a way that fills me with immense gratitude for Rosemary's dedication to the kids of Maryland and Washington DC.
What can I learn from that dedication? What can I learn? I realize, now, as I sit here writing this, that I share the dedication that Rosemary has. I have also dedicated my life to creating the same kind of deep connection to place that we all had with Takahano. I went to school for Animal Behavior and Environmental Studies, and got a master's degree in Environmental Leadership. I've been an outdoor educator for how many years? 18? 21? 24 years? Where do I begin? I've been a naturalist for close to 30 years... Why not start that count with my obsession with identifying every salamander and snake and tadpole at Takahano?
I have the opportunity, now, to create the same kind of memories here in Colorado. I've already done a lot, exploring the open space and national forests outside of Boulder, teaching about the plants and animals that live there with my meetup group, Boulder Naturalist Outings. (http://www.meetup.com/Boulder-Naturalist-Outings/). I've explored many miles of rivers that stretch out onto the plains, and made friends with owls and eagles and coyotes along the way.
But now, by joining the Lefthand Alliance (http://www.lefthandalliance.net/), I see so many possibilities of deepening my work by getting to know the Alliance's land deeply. I applaud the work of the founders. This area is so rich with wildlife and magical places. I barely know any of it, honestly. But, I share the vision of my new friend Ira, who is dedicating his life to this place. He says on the Alliance's website:“The Alliance offers an invitation to directly connect with the Father Sky and Mother Earth. It offers a sanctuary to enjoy a 'Rocky Mountain High'. She offers abundance in the earth, the forest, the wild- life, the water that continually flows as the Lifeblood of the Father Sky and Mother Earth dancing with love. This is my version of heaven, and I love sharing it with each of you.”
This very well may become my version of heaven, too, as Takahano was when I was a child.
Special thanks to my mom, Marg Bond, for leading my Camp Fire group, being the director of Camp Takahano for so long, and, you know, for everything!
|Mom and I on my wedding day!|