Zipline catches up with alumni of A/U Ranches and DiscoveryBound (formerly A/U chapters) programs.
Melissa (Missy) Miller
Missy’s connection with the A/U Ranches began in 1989 when she applied, very last minute, for a counselor position in the corral at Sky Valley Ranch. They were needing corral staff, so she headed west from New Hampshire in her VW Golf. The following summer she worked at Round-Up Ranch on corral staff after driving the bus and trailer for the rafters’ training camp for a week. At the end of that second summer, she washed dishes for the week of Adult Camp, manning the radio and enjoying the view out the window. She stayed on and worked in the corral for the first Alumni Staff Reunion – “such an incredibly fun time – I loved meeting so many former corral staffers, and hearing all their stories,” she recalls. Since then, she’s worked a number of Christmas Camps and attended several reunions, including last year’s Wrangler Reunion during Mini Camp, which was “a blast,” she says.
“Riding and working with horses and campers, in what is truly God’s country, as well as meeting and working with so many amazing and wonderful people, while sharing in the love and practice of Christian Science, makes for truly amazing experiences that I treasure immensely,” Missy says. “Exploring and growing, sharing and learning, praying and playing…”
At home in New Hampshire, Missy works as a painter, primarily in oils painting landscapes and cityscapes, although she also loves working in pencil and charcoal. Recently she has returned to her love of horses, as well as the garden. She works from both photographs and from life, en plein aire. “Whatever the subject matter, every painting I do is an exploration and reveals something new to me.” Her work can be seen at MelissaMillerArt.net.
Aubrey was a camper for nine years at the A/U Ranches, and during those years she participated in Horsemanship, Explorers, Mountaineers, Challengers, Photography, Rafting, and Family Camp. Each of these activities magnified her love for all of God’s creatures and being outdoors. While at the A/U Ranches, Aubrey began to recognize the universality of Love because camp gave her the opportunity to meet and make friends from all over the world. After her last year as a camper she discovered her love for traveling and finding Christian Science all over the globe!
In her last year of college at Principia (where she received her degree), Aubrey traveled to Tibet, and within the first week of being there it was clear to her that her next step after college was to become a Journal-listed practitioner of Christian Science healing. She learned so much about the importance of each individual practice during her time in Tibet and how individual practices can be shared and bring about healing for ourselves and others. She remembers very clearly the moment when she knew the public practice was for her.
“I was talking with one of the professors on my abroad [trip] after spending much of the day on a bus, traveling through the Tibetan countryside and villages to get to different monasteries,” Aubrey recalls. “I distinctly remember saying to him, ‘There were so many people making prostrations (going from a standing position, to laying on their stomach, and then standing up again) in demonstration of their religious practice to get to their monastery, and then spending the whole day making prostrations around their monastery.’
“I was in complete awe of their open/public dedication to their practice of their religion and the fact that they spent the entire day practicing it,” Aubrey continues. “I told my professor, ‘If Christian Scientists practiced as openly and as dedicatedly as what we have seen here in Tibet after only one day, there could be no question about the effectiveness and healing power that Christ demonstrated for us that we strive to practice.’ And then I knew that what I wanted was to really live a life that publicly demonstrated Christ and approached the supreme good and helped others in the process!”
Aubrey is currently a Journal-listed Christian Science practitioner, living in Godfrey, Illinois, with her Shiba Inu puppy, Titus. Together, they spend time outdoors each day while reflecting in thoughtful prayer and pondering the tasks that God lays before them. She went into the public practice immediately after graduating from college, and has since been visiting Christian Science camps across North America during the summers and off seasons to continue participating in the camp experience.
She recently wrapped up being a DiscoveryBound Compass guide, where she was able to support teens in their discovery and love for Christian Science. She had an incredible experience connecting with each of her teens and discussing different topics that brought them each closer to God, and to each other.
Garrett was a rafting camper for a summer or two in the late 1990s, but it wasn’t until he worked as a ranch hand in 2002 and 2003 that he really connected with the A/U Ranches. He made close friends and had amazing experiences over those two summers.
“One of the staff members set a tone for us, and his leadership is something I still try to emulate,” Garrett says. “Every morning we would meet to plan our day, but first we talked about ourselves: our emotional lives, what inspired us. We shared poems, spoke about our emotions, sang songs, shared movies that moved us, and gave each other the freedom to be true to ourselves. This man was fighting toxic masculinity well before it became a mainstream topic of conversation. Every day as we dug septic pits or new sewer lines, we’d stop and remind each other how lucky we were to be doing this surrounded by such beauty.” In fact, he still sees his friend from time to time when he’s in Australia, and each time they record a song together.
Since his time at the A/U Ranches, Garrett has done a lot: He lived in New York City for eight years doing comedy at UCB Theatre and Magnet Theater and working on Wall Street; worked at a music festival in Timbuktu that he had to sneak into because it was being threatened by Al-Qaeda; lived briefly in Beirut teaching improv and trying to write but leaving with just a first page; spending two months a year for seven years in Edinburgh, Scotland, producing a theater show at the Festival Fringe; and spending a couple of brief stints in Copenhagen attempting to start a new business teaching improv to businessmen with a fellow ranch hand alum. He also made “a lot of attempts at things that never panned out,” he says.
Garrett is currently living in Los Angeles for the third time, producing for a YouTube channel called Smosh. “Digital producing is an exciting job that is different every day,” he says. “Some days I’m shepherding a cast through Cairo and others I’m figuring out how to shuttle people around Catalina. I get to use the wide variety of skills I’ve picked up trying and failing at many different careers throughout the years.”
Where are you now? Let us know!