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We Used To Send Our Kids…

by Neal Washburn

    Imagine, if you will, a 50-some-year-old talking to a teenager about a shared experience:  enjoying s’mores, stories and songs around a campfire. What is really inspiring, though, is that the experiences shared took place more than 30 years apart.  Such is the joy and wonder of Pilgrim Pines.

     I have a rather unique role in the Southern California Nevada Conference of the United Church of Christ:  I serve as the Youth and Young Adults Ministries Coordinator as well as the Chairperson of the Pilgrim Pines Board of Directors.  To promote both, I visit churches of the Conference for worship, ask for a minute or two during announcements, perhaps meet with the youth, show pictures, have Pilgrim Pines and SCNCUCC Youth promotional material available and hang around to answer questions or just talk to folks and share stories.

     At every church I visit, I hear a variation of the same theme, “Pilgrim Pines is a great place.  We used to send our kids there all the time!”   Well, let me assure all of you that, indeed, Pilgrim Pines is a great place!  That has not changed.  Time hasn’t taken away from the Pines; in fact, there is even more going on than just a few years ago. We have improved both the high and low ropes courses, now offer an archery program and have significantly improved food service.

     Many people recall memories of their experiences at Pilgrim Pines:  eating in the dining hall, meeting in the lodges, hiking to Johnny’s Tree Farm, singing in the morning, hiking to the helicopter pad, worship at Vesper Point, Pinesters…and on and on.  These memories are awesome; they are the source of those shared experiences that happen at different times.  These memories that we have from our youth are still there at Pilgrim Pines and waiting to be experienced again in our youth today.  It is the responsibility of all of us to help that happen! For me, when I visit churches, I would much rather start hearing, “Pilgrim Pines – we sent our kids… and they can’t wait ‘til next year to go again.”

     I have also heard from families who would love to send their kids to Pilgrim Pines and recognize the importance of Outdoor Ministry… but times are currently tough.  With the financial challenges some families face, monies for camp seem a long way off.  Again, helping is the responsibility of all of us!  Wouldn’t it be great if all of the churches of the conference started their own Campership Line-Items in the budget to help send their kids to Pilgrim Pines? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if churches donated unused Campership Monies directly to Pilgrim Pines to help offset the cost of Outdoor Ministries helping those youth who are not being served?

     I volunteer at Pilgrim Pines, I send my children to Pilgrim Pines and I donate my time, talents and treasures; so I am not asking of you something that I don’t do myself.  Continue or re-start sending your youth to Pilgrim Pines!  Prayerfully consider your financial resources and how you can help!  We truly need you to be a partner in Outdoor Ministries.  We need you to help all of our kids have experiences today that give them lifetime memories of God’s grace that happens in God’s space, in God’s great outdoors.

Visit Pilgrim Pines Camp website here: http://www.pilgrimpinescamp.org/

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