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Rev. Charlie Ensley Shares What Pilgrim Pines Means to Him

Rev. Charlie Ensley, Sr. Minister of Bay Shore Community Congregational Church in Long Beach

     I attended winter weekends (the precursor to Jr. High Janboree and Feb Camp) at Pilgrim Pines back in the early 1960s when I was a youth at Community Congregational Church in Los Alamitos.  In 1965, as a high school senior, I attended a conference-wide week of summer camp for high school youth group leaders (a precursor to CYMC – Conference Youth Ministries Camp).
     In 1987 I returned to Long Beach from pastorates in New York.  My first summer at Bay Shore, I took our daughters, a mini and a junior, to Pilgrim Pines for the first time.  They were hooked, and attended each summer through high school.  Daughter Amy became a Counselor in Training (CIT), and then Jr. Camp director during 2005 and in 2006, she and Kirsten Sumpter were Summer Camp Directors.  In the early years, it was fun for me to think my daughters were using the same Melmac plates and square dining hall tables and sleeping in the same cabins I used in the ’60s!  I joined them for the next 21 years as a mini cabin counselor with boys.  Many of those boys came from disadvantaged home situations, and for them, that week at Pilgrim Pines was their only summer vacation.
     As a pastor, I always push the idea for my church youth to go to summer camp, Jr. High Janboree, Feb Camp, and Confirmation Camp.  I felt such an affinity for Pilgrim Pines Camp that I served on its board of directors for six years in the past decade.
     Any time I went up the mountain for summer camp or a clergy retreat, I always felt I was leaving my cares and concerns down in the valley.  My late mother used to attend the women’s silent retreats, so for me it is very significant that our family had three generations making use of and enjoying the great resource we have at Pilgrim Pines Camp.  In the words to an old camp slogan, “the mountains bring peace to the people.”

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