Marissa Bunting has been coming to camp since 2002. Throughout the years camp has been a second home for her as she’s gone from camper to counselor. This past October Marissa joined us for two annual fall events.
I started going to off-season events at camp when I was 13 years old. Jessica Henderson, a previous director, took me up to camp one weekend and we spent the time cleaning the office. Since then, I’ve been attending as many off season events as possible! That first office-cleaning time and the following work weekends were really exciting for me. I really liked being able to see behind the scenes at camp, whether that meant being able to go into buildings I wouldn’t necessarily go in during the summer or learning about how camp runs in the off season. It’s fun to say “I took down the teepees!” or “did you know they have to bring the floating docks in for the winter?” or even “I’ve been upstairs in the lodge!” When I was younger, even that was something really special.
But whatever the occasion, once you go to camp you become a part of it and it becomes a part of you and that never goes away. You always want to be there, around your camp family, helping out any way you can. CLC’s mission statement “to promote spiritual growth in campers and staff and through them bless the world” is really expressed at these weekends. After your time at Crystal Lake you go out and bless the world while learning new things and then you get to come back and bless camp. It’s neat to see this huge cycle of continuous good. For example, at Clean Up Weekend all sorts of people will attend, some with specific skill sets from whatever jobs they have at home and will bring them to camp for certain projects – like a couple attendees that were able to use their carpentry expertise to build a new wood shed by Wigwam.
At work weekend, you can have a little work experience or a lot; there is something for everyone to do. It’s just a great feeling knowing you’re helping to lighten the load. Where certain projects may take one year round staff member a week to finish, the same project can be done in one day with the help of volunteers. There are no limitations and you have this great balance at Clean Up of hard work and enjoyment with the people around you. When the group was asked “Who wants to fill in potholes?” it was a group of three women (myself included) who volunteered. We grabbed some shovels and headed out in the camp truck, Rufus, to patch up the road. Sitting in the back of the truck enjoying the autumn light and breezy air felt so good. Then, when we found clusters of potholes in the road, we got to work! I shouldn’t speak for the others, but I definitely felt like we were total rock stars as strong women shoveling gravel. It turned out to be the highlight of the weekend (besides hanging out by the fire with camp dog, Katie Kisses). It was especially satisfying because now that I have my own car I realize and deeply appreciate all the hard work that goes into maintaining the road. As I was driving in for the weekend, I was constantly apologizing to my car, Watson, but when the weekend was over, I had this immense satisfaction driving over the lumps of gravel we put in those holes to fix the dirt road.
If you missed seeing the posts of Fall Clean up on Instagram, here are some of that weekend’s photos:
To see more visit CLC’s Instagram
These weekends are also a great way to meet other people, especially alumni who have gone to camp for decades. You get to hear all their stories from their time at Crystal Lake and you realize that camp is this huge family, and sometimes you don’t even think about the fact that there are older generations of that family. To see the bigger picture of the place you love is wonderful.
One event that really brings the camp family to light is Alumni Weekend, which I also attended this fall. That weekend is a special time for alumni of all ages to spend time with each other. We carved pumpkins, had a talent show, barn dance, council fire, little olympics… It’s basically a bunch of summer favorites stuffed into three fun-filled days! It’s unique because there are families there who have been going to camp for generations… you get to sort through pictures and find them when they were kids in the ‘70s, and that’s just really fun for everyone. The talent show was full of acts from people of all ages; that’s one way you get to learn about other alumni- they share their talents with you and make you laugh and listen and think. The childlikeness is brought out in everyone, and it’s easy to forget the so-called limits of time and age.
One of my favorite parts about alumni weekend was doing arts and crafts. The resourcefulness of people who go to camp is always impressive to me.
We had a bunch of random craft supplies that did not seem to give us a cohesive craft option that we would be satisfied with making. So, we just started creating, and decided to make little “people” out of odds and ends, and we talked and sang and laughed, (and also had a surprising amount of silent and totally focused time) People stopped by and joined in every once in a while and were pretty excited about what we were doing. That’s one of the best parts of camp – you can just take all this random nothing and turn it into something, and learn a lot about people along the way!
The relaxed structure of Alumni Weekend allows for a lot of flexibility in activities, which is something I like about it. If you don’t feel like signing up for any of the (super totally awesome) activities that are being offered, you don’t have to! You can just bounce around from place to place, visiting your favorite camp spots, catching up with old friends, and taking in the autumn scenery. As always, there’s a little bit of something for everyone!
It’s also really great to see people continuing to grow. I remember one of the first weekends I came to an event current camper, Kiersten Edwards, had attended. Just a few years ago I was her counselor and saw her reach new heights throughout the summer. Although I wasn’t able to be at camp this past summer, I still was able to witness her growth continue through events she attends like work weekend.
Now I love coming to camp for all the events, fun, and people but sometimes it’s great to come to a place that is the epitome of beauty and calm. Crystal Lake really is a symbol of serenity, and one of my favorite parts of coming in the “off-season” is sitting there in the evenings being really still and enjoying the nature around me.
One thing’s for sure… CLC is the place to be!