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A View from the Woods.

From infancy on, the father of my boys would take them on evening walks. He would call owls, listen to the peepers, and point out constellations. Connections to the environment on those evening strolls became a ritual of awareness. When the boys' father was away on a trip, I felt responsible for the obligatory evening walk. We headed out the door before bedtime. Unfortunately, I was not as talented at owl calling as their father, but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. On the way home, I picked up Dillon, who was two-and-a-half at the time, and he looked up to the sky and said, "Oh look, Mommy, Orion!" Now, I thought to myself "yeah, right" and glanced upward. Sure enough, Orion twinkled back at me.

What power we have in our simple teachable moments. Special moments of passing experiences touched by the human spirit. These fleeting moments of time build deep profound values. As time is measured, I have not been with ACA long. However, already my time with ACA has taught me what I see as three significant ACA values.

We value people. All of our moments combined that result in the camp experience repeatedly express the value of people. We demonstrate that value through respect, honesty, caring, and sharing. Young people do not leave our presence without understanding the tender strength of mankind and the appreciation for the community that is needed to protect such kindness.

We also value the natural world. We seek and appreciate what is real, genuine, and unartificial. We not only seek those qualities in people but in the actual world in which we spend our time. We not only understand the importance of human connections for survival but the critical connections to our physical world. We realize the need to protect not only one another but the environment in which we live. Our intent is to preserve and share that legacy with the next generation.

Finally, it is clear to me that we value a sense of contribution. Although, how we bestow these gifts results in a beautiful potpourri expressing the true harvest of our community. Our contributions are both obvious and subtle. The benefits of our work are both immediate and slow to emerge. Most significantly, although the experience itself is often fleeting, our impact on the human spirit lasts a lifetime.

So, don't underestimate the simplest lesson or the briefest wink of time. It may be a star in someone's horizon for all eternity.

Peg L. Smith

ACA Executive Director
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Title Annotation:appreciation of camping, and its values
Publication:Camping Magazine
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Sep 1, 2000
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