I spoke with a Lake Owego Camp alumna the other day who told me about a fun, outdoorsy, camping oriented, father/daughter group that he and his daughter belong to called the Y-Indian princesses. As he told me about it, a flood of memories came rushing back. My dad did that with my sisters, and my brother and I were part of the father/son version, the Y-Indian Guides. This was really my introduction to camp and the outdoors (and unfortunately, poison ivy) and where my passion and enthusiasm for nature was first sparked.
I remember hiking, canoeing, setting up tents (at the time this seemed to be very difficult task, equaled only by the challenge of correctly folding a giant map in the car), leatherwork, archery, the cold morning air as you run from your tent to the less than luxurious bathrooms, campfires and s’mores, and bonding with my dad and our camping buddies through our shared adventure.
After one of our first camping trips off the coast of California on Catalina Island, my mom and dad let my brother and I set up our tent in the backyard. It was a big dome, 6-man tent, which, to a little boy seemed like an enormous, rustic mansion. It was our oasis in an imaginary backyard desert and the shelter deep in the imaginary woods of our minds. The sense of adventure I felt when camping on Catalina Island stuck with me, even in my backyard in the suburbs, and I couldn’t wait to get back out into the real woods, deserts, and beaches all around me. There was so much more that I still had to discover.
We traveled the coast of California and visited Yosemite, the Redwood Forest, and the Giant Sequoias, and these adventures are some of my favorite childhood memories, and they have impacted me for life. As I got older, I learned about Minimum Impact and Leave No Trace Camping and wanted to help preserve and care for the environment. I studied Ecology, Hydrology, Oceanography, Forestry, Geology, and I wanted to help save the world.
Nowadays, I get to help save the world in some small way by sharing my passion and enthusiasm for the outdoors with others through the medium of camp. At TOP Adventure Camp, we give our boys the opportunity to get out into nature to experience the wilderness and world around them first-hand. We go on great adventures, visit beautiful sites, and create our own memories that we share as we sit around the campfire together, roasting marshmallows, laughing, and telling stories. I hope that as they grow up, they too will have their minds flooded with happy memories when they talk about camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, or the art of setting up a tent, and that they can pass this on to their friends and family.
Who or what impacted your view of nature and the outdoors? I’d love to hear your story when we’re sitting around a campfire this summer!
Johnny, TOP Adventure Director