Coppercreek. That name is magic to me. It has been for close to 50 years and I am proud and honored to be a Vintage! We have a deep history and I can’t wait to see what my fellow V’s write here.

I was an awkward and odd kid from a troubled home, uncomfortable in my own skin and without any friends. My mom recognized that things weren’t going well for me at home and suggested a stay-away camp that I could pick from the advertisements that used to be in the very front of Sunset Magazine. I sent away for a passel of brochures from various camps and lived in delight as they came. I studied each one, weighing the options, pouring over the photos. Along came a big envelope and in it was a brown sepia tone full size, fold out pamphlet; it was captivating. There were quotes, too. The one that made my decision for me? “We are apart yet a part”. How I craved that feeling.

I arrived, nervously, to the red dirt that would soon be in my very blood and heart (and feet!) forever. The founder and Director was a tall, handsome, lean, silver haired man. He would become a warm and accepting presence, one that in later years I was able to call friend. My counselor was big hearted and fun. She greeted me as though she liked me right away; this was new to me. Within minutes I had a cabin full of friends who thought I was just fine the way I was, also a new experience.

The whole place was joyful, full of games, activities, crafts, horses, water fun whether at a lake or the icy pool that I grew to love. I was enchanted, truly moved, relieved and over the moon at this sanctuary. I made friends that first year that I still am friends with all these years later. We cared for each other so much that we stayed in contact all those years and this was before the ease of e-mail and texts. I have several boxes of letters from my camp years, some I have given back to their authors, others that live in my huge camp scrapbook…as does that first brochure.

Though home life remained challenging, I could see CAMP at the end of the tunnel and it was enough to get me through. At home I started doing little jobs and babysitting, anything I could do.

I saved enough each year to go back  for many years. Camp was the fuel that got me through the rest of the year as were the constant stream of letters from those dear, dear camp friends. As time went on the lessons from camp seeped into the deepest parts of me and I found that the experiences of camp shaped me, even in the ‘real’ world. Since others liked me, I started to like myself. Since other kids had struggles at home or school I felt less alone. I was good at stuff! Since I could shoot an arrow, take a jump on a horse, sing all the songs with gusto, I started to have more confidence. I was OK just the way I was, wow! Who knew? Camp folk. My Coppercreek years made me a better, happier, more secure person. Those lessons and experiences continue to encourage me to be the best person I can be, a person deserving of being an alum, a Vintage.

I returned for several years on staff, doing everything from being a counselor to being the laundry lady; there was no job that I wouldn’t do with glee just to be at Coppercreek. Later, as a parent, I was thrilled to drive my son to camp and set him free; he returned for 10 years, camper though staff. But that’s another wonderful story.

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