From Opening Windows to God (©1999 and 2006)
Karin Peterson Heath | Mountaineering staff 1989-1993
One of the things I loved about mountaineering is that there are no other distractions. It was just you and your backpack and your campers making your way along those beautiful mountain trails and up those challenging peaks. It just seemed like we were always so close to nature, and I treasured the stillness of early mornings and grassy alpine meadows and pine forests.
We always gave the campers a choice on peak climb days. They could climb the mountain and feel the sense of accomplishment and joy of being on top of the world, or they could hang out at the campsite by themselves and play cards. They nearly always decided to at least attempt the peak. One thing I always stressed with my campers was that our ultimate goal wasn’t to get to the top of a mountain, but to enjoy the journey. After all, we might be turned back by bad weather or a lack of time. So we always tried to appreciate each other and be supportive of the entire group. We had some terrific experiences that way.
One of my fondest memories is from a six-day trip I led in the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness Area when I was mountaineering program head in ’92 or ’93. The five young campers who decided to take the trip were all boys…. I felt like a mother hen with all those guys. We had an amazing experience finding our way up and back down “Mount Destruction” and we had some incredible testimonies to share after that trip.
We had hiked one day for hours over boulder fields as we worked our way to the next valley over. I could tell from the map that it would be miles out of our way to go around the ridge, so we just hiked along it. But in the end, the only way to get to the valley was to go down a very intimidating avalanche chute. We went two at a time, and sang hymns all the way, being careful not to dislodge any rocks. It was a frightening experience, but one in which I felt we were all protected.
One of the great things about A/U (and for that matter, all camps for Christian Scientists) is how Christian Science is lived in each person‘s experience, day in and day out. Being surrounded by it, as you are there, you can’t help but turn to the Bible and Science and Health any time something goes wrong.
When I went to A/U as a camper, I was just so inspired to be surrounded by so many other Christian Scientists. When I returned as a staff member, that feeling of awe was still there.
We are calling our mountaineers back to the A/U Ranches for a Mountaineering Reunion taking place during Mini Camp, August 22-28, 2022.