On the closing of one of my favorite places…

April 23rd, 2013 by Karen

Personal opinions follow…you are warned…

I must admit that I am terribly sad about the closing of Camp Pendola. I always wanted to feel comfortable enough to send my children there, but with so many whispers in the wind about issues and the very un-Catholic goings on grumbled about on social media and behind closed doors, I just never felt like it was the right time. Am I overprotective? Probably…but they’re my children. It’s my job.

I’ll never forget the amazing times I had at Pendola…from the first time I laid eyes on it in 1992 at CLI, to what will likely be our final trip to the space later this summer. Without Pendola, I would not be married to Joel, I wouldn’t have our three beautiful children, I wouldn’t have the friends I do now. I loved all the campers, teaching arts and crafts (despite all the holes in the floor), the craziness that was living in First Aid with Kim, Liz, and Ro and all the shenanigans that entailed, the hikes, the campfires. I loved watching the kids try to find the kitchen staff as we played Wild Thing and I loved the delight the staff took each week in hiding. I loved pausing on the way to Camp at the G Spot in awe every time and the final turn on the road into Camp where the trees opened just enough for the upper lawn to peek through. I loved blackberry picking (and yes, that is actually all we -ever- did tyvm, though I did recently hear a variation on the story that had us as a star crossed couple who died in an accident with the blue truck. Crazy!), making bottle rockets, helping in requisitions, relaxing in the hot tub on Saturdays (before it was removed), sleeping under the stars at Slate, stops at the Nugget for choco-tacos, and days off in Nevada City. I loved returning the summer after Casey’s Grove was finished and sitting there alone to say goodbye to my gentle friend and co-counselor among the trees.

  • The first time I met Joel was at Pendola in 1992.
  • He kissed me for the first time on July 9, 1995 in lower staff, after asking my permission.
  • We laughingly discussed our favorite children’s names sitting on the big green couch, not knowing that years and years later we would use them.
  • Camp friends attended our wedding and helped with the Mass, doing readings and distributing Eucharist.
  • Miss Margaret and Mr. Matt Sanders are the godparents of our eldest daughter.
  • The very first person we told we were expecting our son was Cheryl Tholke.
  • Mr. Steve and Cheryl are his godparents.
  • I’ve taken great delight watching my children explore at Family Camp through the years and discovering the magic that is Pendola.

I’ve heard some of the reasons for the new space and frankly, they don’t move me. It’s just a space with buildings and it holds no meaning for me. To me, Pendola is so much more than just a place where kids come for a week in the summer. It’s the starting point for what would become my family and not just mine, but countless others as well. I feel it’s a shame that all the history and grace that is Pendola will be lost. And it will be. The space will belong to others who don’t know what it stood for, what it meant to the thousands who came there for years and years, who don’t know of the hard work and dedication of staff and volunteers through the years, who don’t understand the meaning behind the gift of the Pendola family or why that extra stage is inexplicably hidden back in the trees. That legacy will not exist except in the memories of old staff and campers who likely will not be involved much or at all at the new site. It’s a rather bleak end for a beloved spot.

I know others may take exception to my opinion on this and they are welcome to opinions of their own. Panta rhei…everything flows. Change is inevitable and nothing remains the same, and yet… I will still carry great sorrow with me when we drive away for the final time.

Up in the pines, there stands a camp,
a camp of honor and of faith,
the most wonderful camp in all the world,
and Camp Pendola is it’s name.

We see the sun set in the West,
the green hills where the campers trod.
We love our camp up in the pines,
and all our thanks we give to God.

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