The summer of 1962 was my breakaway summer. I was on my own for the first time in my life, without my family, without a boyfriend, without my twin sister! I was 17. Now at retirement age I look back through the fog of years since then to try to see which of my early life experiences shaped me the most. It had to have been that summer spent in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.
I am hoping to add some new chapters to the life journal I have been writing ever since my junior high diary days. And now that I am a member of the alumnae association of the Estes Park YMCA of the Rockies familiar names and faces from that era have begun to surface. Experiences long buried are coming to light. I wonder how the lives of those friends that had been so much a part of my life have been lived out.
That summer provided me with more than a wonderful adventure. It was an opportunity to learn new things about the world from young people my own age. It was a spiritual spark that ignited my spiritual growth. It pointed me to a vocation. I met people and experienced what it was like to see issues in our country and the world that hadn’t touched me very much in the farming area of the mid-west where I grew up. The seeds of passion for social justice and advocacy were planted.
After college and marriage I got involved in issues that were everywhere. I wrote and worked for peace as much as I could manage while raising a family . Was it in the air at the YMCA of the Rockies? No doubt about it. Was it the great people I met and their viewpoints and influence? Absolutely. Did anyone sit me down and preach that this would be my lifelong calling? No. I had no idea it would lead me to seminary and ordination as a minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA )in 1997.
But that summer I took in all I could, loving the Y activities and relationships that were instructive, fun, engaging, and even sobering. Now I view that time as one of the most magical experiences of my life. I went back to Iowa changed, no doubt about it, but I didn’t realize the treasure I had found until later in my life. After all I had three more years of college ahead and there were places to go and people to meet and experiences to consider. That summer was a moment in time, a moment that got pushed aside and that almost faded away until the fall of 2007 when I moved again and discovered that a box of old scrapbooks had made it through moves from Iowa State (graduation in 1964), to Lancaster and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Boulder and Fort Collins and Denver, Colorado; Cheyenne, Wyoming and Midland Texas and now back to FORT COLLINS. I found pictures, cards, souveniers, and some of the old newsletters that described how we, the youth of 1962 viewed the smouldering world that was pre Kennedy assassination and civil rights movement. I remember writing articles for The Peaker that were really, really awful but began a lifelong interest in writing that has taken many forms.
I am now retired and share grand-parenting duties for two sets of twins born 5 days apart. They are now almost 3 years old with 2 yr. old and 5 year old siblings. (6 grandchildren under 5 yrs. old…4 boys and 2 girls) who, by the way live close by. But that is another story. New adventures continue to keep me busy. I live on a small suburban farm property with my family, 3 horses, 3 dogs and 3 cats (As well as any number of kids, depending on who is visiting at the time.) in Fort Collins. It is a grand experiment in intergenerational living. I continue to try to find time to write!
It seems I am a long way from the summer I taught tennis and archery, checked out recreation equipment, played ping-pong and was voted Queen on the fourth of July! I have never quite figured that one out. :0)Even the experience of running into a deer with a borrowed car takes on a different hue. (Not quite as hysterical). I remember delivering weekly activity programs on horseback, singing around campfires, staff parties, hikes, walking in the moonlight, sitting on the roof of an old cabin with only the whispering sounds of the moonlit bathed stream moving by. It is enough to make my blood rise again.
I am planning to return to the camp this summer for the reunion, even though plans are not yet set. Hope to see you then.