Meet the Balestrini Band!


My name is Emily, one of a growing tribe of Emilys around this place.

I was a camper here before the invention of electric light? Not quite, but I did eat my first ever slice of pizza at the Plumas County Fair in the early 1980s. Hunger drove me over the edge. I came up from Riverside with a cohort of about 7 other kids from our neighborhood, all of whom fell off as we grew up and got interested in other things, but I came until I aged out.


Then I wondered what to do next and how to approach life from that point: fortunately, having to bunk (or camp or backpack!) with strangers for a month each summer gave me the confidence to at least take my chances on places and people I hadn’t yet met, and so far, the experiment feels like a success. Here’s a small thing that meant a lot to me when I was 8: at the opening night campfire in 1978, Papa John stood up and introduced every person there by name, rank and serial number. Granted, the entire camp was 33 people big, but he did that!


Did I mention (ever so subtly?) that I went on Trek two years in a row for a whole month each time? When Lornie was still developing it?

Trek 1986
Trek 1986

The ropes course used to move around, too, for reasons I have never explored; AND campers used to put together a newspaper! With personals and bad jokes and reportage of the events of the session. I LOVE CAMP.


I am a working artist in the Sacramento valley, where I am raising three more Coppercreek campers with the help of my husband/their father, John. He tried to tell me that he went to camp as a kid, but when he finally came up and saw this place in action, he understood things on a whole different level.


As an artist, I focus on making relief prints, but I feel it is important and exciting to step outside my comfort zones and allow myself to fail (sometimes spectacularly!) in other mediums; like clay, for instance. It is interesting that two three-dimensional mediums are so very different.

I like to have a general plan for each day, so when kids ask me what we’re doing that day, I can give them an answer. We’re making candles! or soap! because ART is such a big idea; it’s good to have a trailhead from which to start your explorations. If someone has an idea that they want to develop, I will help guide that, too. An important note here, though, is that while I am a working artist and I am participating in no fewer than three shows this year, I make my living as a technical writer. Few artists are fortunate enough to make a living exclusively from their craft. LIFE LESSONS! In the flesh!

Emily and Jay
Emily and Jay

My favorite part of the Coppercreek day is early morning before the music starts: I like to lie in bed and watch the light change and reflect on what noisy little buggers the birds are, and take in the smell of breakfast being cooked as it mingles with the pines, cedars and oaks: that is when I know that I am truly at home.


2 thoughts on “Meet the Balestrini Band!

  1. “…ART is such a big idea; it’s good to have a trailhead from which to start your explorations.” This is superb! I’ve never heard it phrased so well and lovingly. Doesn’t surprise me that it came from the amazingly talented and big-hearted Emily! She was a great camper and is continuing her Coppercreek experience by being a wonderful program leader for Crafts, a mentor and an inspiration to the kids and staff alike. Coppercreekers grow up GREAT 😉

  2. P.O'D.

    You paint such a picture! Love love love camping it enriches the soul more than anyone can know – until they have done it!

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