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A Potpourri of Pilgrim Pines Memories

Photos by Jack Gillespie

Photo by Jack Gillespie

One of the most vivid memories I have of Pilgrim Pines is the Sunday morning church service held under the trees.  We sat on logs facing a makeshift altar in the open air.  I was never quite able to put my finger on it, but there was something so special about that setting.   I could say I felt closer to God in that wide open area, but that doesn’t quite cover it all.  Some of it was the quiet that the setting seemed to require.  There was the quiet rustling of the wind through the trees and the shadows created as the sun rose and shone through the branches.  I remember in particular one time when the whole experience brought me to tears.  Truthfully, I don’t remember any particular sermon or song; I just know that the time touched a part of me that perhaps I had ignored for too long.
– Patty Bender, La Mesa, CA

“One night right after campfire the kids had just left for their cabins and a big old raccoon came amblin’ through the volleyball court.  My friend Barbe and I started to gently shoo it up toward Creek Lodge.  It slowly made its way to the wall.  When it got to the wall it decided to turn back toward Barbe and me.  In all our bravery and glory we turned and high-tailed it in the other direction.”
– Rob Wardle, Waterford, MI

“I remember that, Rob!  And another night a raccoon somehow got into the cabin and was helping itself to some food I had in my bunk area.  My roomies thought it was me and told me to be quiet.  They flipped on the light when the noise continued only to discover the raccoon!”
– Barbe Mitchell, Bakersfield, CA

“I was up at camp with the Youth Round Table for a meeting/retreat.  Camp was pretty deserted; we may have been the only group there.  A group of girls and I were making a trek from the bathrooms behind the office down toward the mail lodge.  Then, la la la la la do de do de do, BAM!  There’s a bear, BIG bear, about two feet from me!  I do what any mature and responsible adult would do – scream and hightail it back to the women’s bathroom, pushing the girls with me.  Quick, shut the door and, um, um, um, wait.  Finally someone got brave enough to check.  No bear.  I think that we were clutching each other so tightly on our way to the main lodge any bear seeing us would have thought the group was one big bear.  BIG bear!”
– Barbe Mitchell

One sunny October weekend, I found myself at Pilgrim Pines for my congregation’s family camp weekend.  At the end of the evening, I settled in with the others in our cabin.  After a sleepless hour listening to the non-stop snorers, I went out to look at the stars for a while.  I wandered up and sat on the veranda around the pool.  It was a super-clear night, and the stars were wondrous.  After I’d sat for perhaps half an hour, I began to hear something moving around at the side of the building.  It was a sort of snuffing sound.  As it got closer, I realized that it might be a bear, and I was a little concerned.  I was just thinking of starting back to the cabin when the actual bear came around the corner of the building toward me.  In the next “oh-my-goodness” split second, it occurred to me that in the fairly populous district of the camp, a dangerous bear would surely have been caught and removed to the wilderness long ago, so this bear was probably pretty laid back.  Besides, my only route off the veranda was directly toward the bear.  So I just sat and waited and watched, and sure enough, the bear passed by a few feet away.  It glanced back over its shoulder as it passed by, and headed on down toward the trash cans.  It made for good conversation at breakfast.                                                                                     -Dick Hatch, La Mesa, CA

Photo by Jack Gillespie

“I loved those nights, so quiet and still, gazing out of the window where I stayed.  There was something of holiness in the stillness of the evening, where the view was peaceful and breathtaking all at the same time.”
– Barbe Mitchell

“…good memories of snow and thick fog, ladybugs filling the air and covering logs, a huge owl swooping down through the pasture…of walking home at night looking up at the stars the whole time and seeing scores of shooting stars in the summer.  Beautiful memories.”
– Win Gould, San Jose, CA

“PP offered some of the best summers and winters of my entire life.  I try to explain it to my kids and there is no way to replicate what occurred there…I loved being a counselor there…little did I know God was planting a seed to prepare me for this wonderful journey I’m on.”
– Dianna Manny


One Response to “A Potpourri of Pilgrim Pines Memories”
  1. Felicia Pastell says:

    That’s so funny that you wrote that Barbe. That exact thing, even down to location and probably the same bear, happened to Amy and me and a group of Round Table girls walking up to upper camp 12 or so years ago. The bear was on that giant rock right by the boys bathroom when we saw it and we screamed bloody murder and ran into the girls bathroom. A few minutes later it was gone. We went up to our cabin, told the boys who then went off in search of it. Boys! No such luck for them though.

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