Words for Wednesday: FBI’s 10 Things I Learned At Camp

  1. wakeboarding
  2. new horse skills
  3. how to get along with many different people
  4. teamwork and cooperation
  5. never doubt yourself and what others think of you
  6. friendship bracelets are currency
  7. how to share
  8. how to take responsibility and be independent
  9. listen to everyone’s opinions and compromise
  10. how to shower in two minutes!


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


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: Another Vintage, Karly Drake Lusby, writes about Coppercreek

Coppercreek. That name is magic to me. It has been for close to 50 years and I am proud and honored to be a Vintage! We have a deep history and I can’t wait to see what my fellow V’s write here.

I was an awkward and odd kid from a troubled home, uncomfortable in my own skin and without any friends. My mom recognized that things weren’t going well for me at home and suggested a stay-away camp that I could pick from the advertisements that used to be in the very front of Sunset Magazine. I sent away for a passel of brochures from various camps and lived in delight as they came. I studied each one, weighing the options, pouring over the photos. Along came a big envelope and in it was a brown sepia tone full size, fold out pamphlet; it was captivating. There were quotes, too. The one that made my decision for me? “We are apart yet a part”. How I craved that feeling.

I arrived, nervously, to the red dirt that would soon be in my very blood and heart (and feet!) forever. The founder and Director was a tall, handsome, lean, silver haired man. He would become a warm and accepting presence, one that in later years I was able to call friend. My counselor was big hearted and fun. She greeted me as though she liked me right away; this was new to me. Within minutes I had a cabin full of friends who thought I was just fine the way I was, also a new experience.

The whole place was joyful, full of games, activities, crafts, horses, water fun whether at a lake or the icy pool that I grew to love. I was enchanted, truly moved, relieved and over the moon at this sanctuary. I made friends that first year that I still am friends with all these years later. We cared for each other so much that we stayed in contact all those years and this was before the ease of e-mail and texts. I have several boxes of letters from my camp years, some I have given back to their authors, others that live in my huge camp scrapbook…as does that first brochure.

Though home life remained challenging, I could see CAMP at the end of the tunnel and it was enough to get me through. At home I started doing little jobs and babysitting, anything I could do.

I saved enough each year to go back  for many years. Camp was the fuel that got me through the rest of the year as were the constant stream of letters from those dear, dear camp friends. As time went on the lessons from camp seeped into the deepest parts of me and I found that the experiences of camp shaped me, even in the ‘real’ world. Since others liked me, I started to like myself. Since other kids had struggles at home or school I felt less alone. I was good at stuff! Since I could shoot an arrow, take a jump on a horse, sing all the songs with gusto, I started to have more confidence. I was OK just the way I was, wow! Who knew? Camp folk. My Coppercreek years made me a better, happier, more secure person. Those lessons and experiences continue to encourage me to be the best person I can be, a person deserving of being an alum, a Vintage.

I returned for several years on staff, doing everything from being a counselor to being the laundry lady; there was no job that I wouldn’t do with glee just to be at Coppercreek. Later, as a parent, I was thrilled to drive my son to camp and set him free; he returned for 10 years, camper though staff. But that’s another wonderful story.

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

Place, Possibility, and Potential… A Coppercreek Vintage discusses the meaning of camp

Place, Possibility and Potential

A Coppercreek Vintage discusses the meaning of camp

Sarah Margolis Pearce

Nearly fifty years ago, my mother showed me the Summer Camp Directory in the back of Sunset Magazine. The page featured several large advertisements for camps around the country. From Maine to Michigan to Georgia to Hawaii, every variety of camp imaginable showed off their activities. There were photos of kids on horseback, canoes on lakes, girls sitting on potter’s wheels, boys shooting arrows and promises of “fun-filled, character-building” summers. I saw a picture of a dining hall with dozens and dozens of camper-lined tables, hundreds of faces turned to the camera. It looked like my entire elementary school in one cavernous room. I tried to imagine myself sitting at one of those tables. I could not. I would be lost in the crowd. I was shy and not fond of large boisterous groups. Those camps looked like nightmares.

I might have closed the magazine altogether but my eye caught a very small advertisement near the bottom. It was the size of a return address label. It said “Coppercreek Camp” in a font that looked like a wooden sign from the old West. No pictures of kids or corrals or sailboats. Just a couple of paw-prints next to the name. Small and unassuming. Like me. When the sepia toned Coppercreek Camp brochure arrived in the mail, it was unlike the splashy, shiny ones that came from bigger and more well-known camps. It was understated and hopeful. Like me.

When I first arrived at Coppercreek in June 1969, two people stood on the porch, smiling and waving as my parents drove up. Anyone who remembers John and Lynne will recall their warmth and gentle ways of making even a shy camper come out of their shell. John, who walked like a cowboy and pronounced Los Angeles with a hard “g”, would be to many of us, a father figure well into our adult years. An admonishment from him was devastating; a compliment coveted for life. Lynne’s earth mother-ness, her distinct choices for “Morning Music” and her quiet but firm guidance offered security.

I felt that I could be something different here because there were  people around me who wanted that to happen. Over the years, I came to value John and Lynne’s vision of a place where nature and the outdoors provided subtle lessons about self-sufficiency, resilience and confidence. As a camper and, later as a counselor, the lessons I learned at camp lasted a lifetime.

The meaning of these lessons has taken a lifetime to understand.

The Vintages [former campers and staff who, despite age, distance and varied lifestyles, come together yearly to celebrate camp at Reunion] frequently discuss the meaning of “camp”. The notion of possibility, potential and place, as integral parts of the camp experience, is a common thread. The possibility of a new friend, a new skill, a new goal to reach and the chance to reinvent yourself at camp.  The potential for a changed self, one that is positive and confident, recharged for the school year.

And then there is the physicality of Coppercreek. The place. Is it the setting beneath Keddie Peak or the smell of pines, firs and cedar or the light through the trees or the cool little town of Greenville that defines “camp”? I feel the place called “camp” in my heart the minute Highway 36 opens onto Child Meadows.  It is here that I know I’m back The Vintages refer to as The Motherland.  It is here that the blissful ache of returning catches in my throat.

When The Vintages converge at Coppercreek each September for Reunion and set up chairs on Battleship’s porch, we embrace our shared and personal meaning of “camp”.  Some of us recall with tenderness, nostalgia and an almost religious respect, the idea of camp as a respite from the outside world. Or a refuge from difficult personal lives. Or a time where we felt best about ourselves.

What makes The Vintages keeping coming back to camp? Sutter, Taylor, Becky and Craig welcome us at camp without question. They “get” that camp is an important part of our lives. I am positive that each day that Coppercreek is in session, Sutter, Taylor, Becky and Craig know that there are campers, like The Vintages, who will carry camp with them forever. It’s a big responsibility and a huge honor that Coppercreek takes on with love, joy and sincerity. And then there is the chance to spend time with like-minded folks for whom camp is a jewel in our lives. A moment that was all too brief but remains a strong and steady beam of light.