By Kate Robertson, C.S., National Alumni Board
When I was a girl, my best friend would tell me all about the camp she went to each summer. It sounded like heaven on earth. But it came with a price tag that, for my family – with eight children to feed, clothe, and educate – was insurmountably out of reach.
Even then, I was old enough to know that my parents were doing everything they could to simply put food on the table, provide shelter and pay basic utilities. I knew that even asking to go to camp would have been unkind.
But, I was blessed. I had a friend, a best friend, who shared her camp experience with me in every way she could. Early each spring, I would go shopping with her (and her mother) for camp clothes – western shirts, cowboy boots, bandanas and wranglers.
We made a party of ironing name labels into every item. We packed and unpacked her camp footlocker, over and over again, as we counted down the days until she would take the train to Colorado.
Once she was at camp, she would write letters, send photos, draw maps and share the day-to-day details of her camp life.
I loved each missive and, through her eyes, felt like I was experiencing camp myself.
But each June, as I stood on the train platform while she waved goodbye from the lowered window of her berth, I would silently fan the flame of my own hopes for a summer spent at camp.
In fact, it was from that platform that I learned one of my most enduring lessons about the power of hope. I discovered that hope was not a choice. I couldn’t control it. Hope was a living, breathing spiritual fire within me.
I hadn’t created it, and I couldn’t squelch it. It persisted. It was self-assertive. I never lost it. So, I looked for ways to “live camp” without getting on that train.
Gratefully, Adventure Unlimited (the organization behind that camp) had a year-round field program. And I was “all in.” I served on the local teen council board, volunteered for committees, organized service projects, attended each event and took advantage of every work-to-camp program available.
The first time I passed through the gateposts of the A/U Ranches, eyes fixed on the 14,000-ft. peaks that serve as her breathtaking backdrop, I felt the power of hope realized.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, today no child is ever turned away from attending camp at the A/U Ranches for financial reasons. To learn more, visit AdventureUnlimited.org/support-us.