By Chris “Yuma” Young, National Alumni Board
Reunions naturally draw our focus to cherished memories and sharing those recollections with friends. The Adventure Unlimited 60th reunion weekend was certainly a trip down memory lane for me.
As I turned onto the dirt road and passed under the A/U Ranches sign, I couldn’t help but remember being greeted by counselors on horseback as I arrived for my first summer as a camper. I also remembered hanging from the sign with ropes as a mountaineering counselor, eagerly waiting for the airport bus to arrive with first session campers. I can’t help but wonder how many memories we all have of turning into the ranches and seeing Five Fingers, Yale and Columbia welcoming us back with open arms.
An idea took hold of me and continued to strengthen throughout the weekend. It is not new or original to me. It is something that I think we all share when we think about our time at the A/U Ranches or at DiscoveryBound events. I think it is simply the recognition of home.
The 60th was amazing! It was spectacular to see everyone arrive at Chuckwagon, excited about returning to the ranches and seeing old friends.
I ran into one friend who I realized I had known almost my entire 30 years of Adventure Unlimited history. I think this encounter is what started to put into focus what this place actually means to me and to many others. Over the years I continue to run into this friend, share a cup of coffee and talk about life. I never went to school with this person, we didn’t grow up in the same town, and we don’t even have similar careers. What we do have, despite all the differences, is a shared idea of home.
This idea was further developed at the Mountaineering affiliation gathering Saturday morning of the reunion. There were about 40 people from the A/U Ranches’ mountain programs, representing at least five decades. As we went around sharing stories, it became clear how significant our time spent together in the mountains was for defining us as individuals and illuminating a connection that we all shared. It was also clear that our time spent in the mountains helped shape us into the spiritual thinkers we are today.
On Sunday I was able to join a small group of friends to reminisce about our time on staff as ranch hands working with Virgil Miller. It struck me that it was working as a ranch hand that I truly learned how to laugh. We barely scratched the surface of the number of stories we all had about our time working on the ranches. I was still thinking and laughing about some of them hours later as I was driving back to Illinois.
The best part about recognizing home in a place is that it ceases to be something that is only remembered and becomes a part of our present reality. The reunion reminded me that the A/U Ranches is more than just a part of my history, more than cherished memories, more than a beautiful place. It’s home. And home does not exist in the past; it stays with us wherever we are and wherever we are headed.