Words For Wednesday: Galaxy’s 10 Things I Learned At Camp!


  1. to be patient
  2. to have an open mind
  3. I’m not as neat as I thought I was
  4. how to slackline
  5. I wouldn’t be who I am without camp
  6. I appreciate sleeping in the dark
  7. I discovered yellow watermelon
  8. hot chocolate tastes better after 15 minutes of waiting
  9. being a leader is awesome!
  10. my parents are more special to me than I thought


Our final January post by the wonderful Vintages: Emily Balestrini-How did camp shape me?

How did Coppercreek shape me?

Music. There is music everywhere, and with campers and staff from all the corners of the globe, I mean literally *everywhere*. To misquote liberally:

All my memories gather round music

Evening campfire

Waking up to music

I hear the music over the loudspeakers it calls me

Radio reminds me of my home far away…

And John Denver isn’t even a natural fit for me!

One truly and deeply fabulous thing about this place is that it is not a specialist camp. We offer many opportunities, and those things are indeed headed up by specialists, but you, as a camper, are required only to bring your open heart and willingness to any new endeavor you choose to try this day. Lornie put me in a kayak at 15 because I was willing. I was not a natural at it and I was not skilled, but I not only survived running my kayak into the willows and meeting the damselfly larvae there (those things are alarming!), I enjoyed it and it inspired a life-long confidence in my own ability to navigate new experiences: I can have some skin in the game, and even if I get scraped up in the process, the education will support me moving forward. Pete Seeger asked a rhetorical question: what’s the difference between education and experience? Education is what you get when you read the fine print, experience is what you get when you don’t. The specialists have both the education and the experience to guide the rest of us beginners through portals of adventure.

Go outside and play with your friends.

Wake up early and go to bed tired. Sit down to meals with your people and happily quench that appetite, and then go sleep it off! Rinse, lather, repeat.

We wake up to music in the mornings. There was always a radio playing when we groomed and tacked up the horses. There was always a boombox at the pool. The boys in the Swamp were a reliable source for something new and interesting, musically. Someone brought some Leonard Cohen cassettes to camp around 1981 (was it you, Karly? Or was is a Ballard sister? Maybe it was Theo.) and I had Famous Blue Raincoat bouncing around in my head until 1990, when I found the album it was on and bought it. One day recently, I was driving from Sacramento to San Francisco, and Let’s Go by the Cars came on my stereo, and I was transported to the back deck of the house where we used to hold our Friday night dances and I remembered the smell of the night and the way we make those floor boards vibrate. Music turns out to be a powerful sense trigger for me. Ryleigh put the Hamilton soundtrack on at art last summer and everyone there that hour sang their hearts out while continuing to work their projects: music, man – it’s a heck of a drug!

I started at Coppercreek 1978 as a pretty sheltered, moderately shy little girl who didn’t really care to brush her hair, and people who were new to me then became instrumental in shaping the direction of my life. John Lindskog had a vision for a place where we could all be our truest and best selves, and by choosing his partners wisely, that vision grew to the camp we have today without ever losing the true heart of the place.

Words for Wednesday: Greta Dedmon, another Coppercreek Vintage, writes about her time at Coppercreek

After several other summer camp experiences, which were disappointing at best, my Dad agreed to order the ACA pamphlet listing all the camps around.  We set out on a mission to find me a FUN, co-ed camp with a horseback riding program that would satisfy my horse-crazy teenage self.  After looking through the brochure, Coppercreek stood out.

So that summer my 14-year old self embarked on what can only be described as a life-changing experience.  The instant I got to camp, I felt I had come home to the place I longed for but never knew.  The staff were fun and creative, I made 2 camp BFFs right away (Thanks Liz and Mia!), and the riding program had me riding hours every single day.  I was in heaven!

How surprised my parents must have been when they got the call early in week 2, asking if I could please stay another week.  After that, Coppercreek Camp became my summer routine.  I was a camper, teen counselor, relief counselor, assistant riding instructor, riding instructor, and then art teacher over the many years I was blessed to be at camp.

For myself, like many other campers, this place and these people helped me to learn who I really was as a person.  Growing up in an alcoholic and tumultuous home and having had early childhood traumas then going through my parent’s divorce, you can imagine that I was a confused mess.  Camp grounded me.  It gave me hope.  It got me through each year.

When I think about camp, it’s difficult to say if the people or place meant more to me.  It was the combination that gave me all the good feels.  Papa John was the stern yet supportive father figure I wished I always had.  Lornie was a mischievous funster and we had a grand time.  Karly and Jean Ann were the counselors I most looked up to for their individuality and spunk.

Our annual trip to camp reunion has become such a beloved event each year.  Blessings to Sutter, Taylor, Becky, Craig, and Lornie for letting us continue to play.  Just as summers at camp were our anchors, now reunion has become the high point of our year!

As a camp family we stick together through the peaks and valleys of life.  I could not ask for a better family I chose for myself.

Speaking of family… I am so thankful that my son was brought into the fold of the camp family.  It warms my heart to think that his confidence and peace at being an individual is, in part, thanks to camp.  There’s nothing quite like being oneself as a child away from your family of origin to get your feet under you.  He has been able to know the wonders of this little slice of heaven on earth and that makes me smile.

It would be impossible to impress how much this camp means to me and the people I love, even 37 years after I first attended.

Greta Dedmon

Words for Wednesday: Jean Smith, a Coppercreek Camp “Vintage” writes about her experience

A timid 8-year-old didn’t realize, 48 years ago, that she was embarking on a life-long, passionate affair with a summer camp. No, she was frightened about being away from home, but thrilled to learn how to ride horses. The camp’s owner and director, a tall, calm man, came down to her Berkeley home and gave her parents a slideshow preview of this camp to seal the deal.

That first summer, back in 1969, began my long relationship with Coppercreek Camp, with John Lindsgog and his children, Lauren and Mike, and with many people I still call some of my dearest friends. That first session cemented my love of red dirt, tall pines, craggy summits, hot dogs roasted over a campfire, the smell of horse sweat and tack, and a million other wondrous crumbs that make up Coppercreek. I had to come back…again and again and again.

Over the next 13 years, I boomeranged back to camp each summer. It was a given; my parents knew this and bless them for making it happen. Camper…junior counselor…counselor-in-training…relief counselor…assistant riding instructor. The later years, when I could spend all summer on staff, produced some of the best memories I have.

Papa John was the anchor through all of it. He was a stern father figure for many of us, but loving and kind. He knew when to encourage us, and he also knew when to fix us with those icy blue eyes and let us know we had displeased him. That hurt…we hated displeasing Papa, and the transgression was never repeated.

Adult life intervened when I turned 21…it was time to get a “real job”, so I stopped coming to camp during summer. But I never lost touch with Papa John, and a few years later, when I started camping up near Lassen, John always welcomed me into camp for a visit with open arms. I felt I still belonged there, a feeling that has never left. I can still hear Papa’s voice…”Hey, babe, it’s good to see you,” followed by a huge hug.

Several years ago, the “vintages”, as we old campers call ourselves, started an annual reunion, held at the end of summer, after camp closed to campers. These reunions have allowed old friendships to roar to life once again, and new enduring friendships to be made. God bless Lauren and Becky and Craig for letting us “old” campers come back to our sacred ground and act like children. God bless Sutter and Taylor for continuing the tradition! Our reunions are the ultimate in life battery-recharging events.

Over the many years, we’ve lost some of our family…John and Lauren hurt particularly, in the heart-stung way of losing dear family members. But we’ve been given gifts in return…Sutter and Taylor and little Harper are the continuum of Coppercreek; watching Ryleigh and Kenna grow up into lovely young ladies has been amazing (good job, mom and dad!); and reconnecting with fellow vintages has enriched my life immeasurably.

As long as Coppercreek exists, and I can walk its dusty red roads, life will be alright. For that, I give great thanks, love and appreciation. -Jean Smith, CCC, 1969-1982

Happy New Year from Coppercreek!

We are wishing everyone a happy 2018 full of adventure, laughter, and joy!


This January we will be posting blog posts from a special group of alumni that call themselves “The Vintages.” These posts share that the meaning of “camp” never changes. We are so lucky to have The Vintages still part of our camp family.


We also begin staff hiring! Within the next few weeks we will start announcing our returning staff for next summer!



Words For Wednesday- “You practically made my summer!”

Thank you 3

There are two ways to make a contribution:

  1. Pay online now with our online donation system 
  2. or Print out our donation form and then mail it to:

Coppercreek Camp PO Box 749 Greenville, CA 95947

Make the check payable to either the Genesee Retreat or the ACA Camper Scholarship Program and memo “Coppercreek Camp”. We will forward your check to the appropriate foundation and send a receipt with their tax id number. 
Thank you!