Santa Monica, Long Beach, and Anaheim UUs Connect at de Benneville

Collage of images from camp

The annual church weekend in September at Camp de Benneville Pines is a great time to take a walk in the woods. This year’s camp attendees included UUs from Santa Monica, Anaheim, and Long Beach congregations, all sharing in the fun.

This year’s campers included regular attendees, people coming for the first time, as well as previous attendees who had not attended for up to a decade. Nels Hanson and Dayla McDonald, formerly members of the Santa Monica congregation and now attending Long Beach UU, and Margot Page and Ian Dodd (Santa Monica UUs), were examples of people who had not attended the church camp weekend in years. Rima Snyder, a first-time camper said, “It’s very lovely here. All the trees, and so peaceful, being away from the traffic.”

Recent upgrades to the camp, including paved roads, the restored lodge, a new walkway through the camp to the cabins, drew a lot of approving smiles.

Friday evening, Camp Dean, Amy Brunell, opened camp with some “get-to-know-you” icebreakers. This activity gave everyone a chance to find their cohort and get to know their cabin-mates.

Weekend activities included fun workshops (tie dye), personal growth workshops (meditation and yoga), and a sampling of programs (Heart to Heart and A Year to Live), which will be monthly programs offered at the Santa Monica UU church through the coming year. Other activities included archery, which is a perennial activity that many people enjoy each time they go, and go-carts, specially brought up for the kids.

On Sunday morning, under the trees, the Rev. Greg Ward gave a sermon that dived deep into his long personal history at camp (and noting that it was also his birthday). The sermon and surroundings presented an atmosphere for reflection for the congregation.

Socializing with old friends or making new ones, eating delicious food, walking in the woods, playing guitar and singing, and spending some delightfully screen-free time, just breathing in the pine-scented forest — de Benneville Pines is always a place to make some deep connections, whether with others or with oneself.

Applause (and thanks) to the committee that organized this year’s camp: Joyce Holmen, Linda Van Lighten, Kathleen Hogue, Karl Lisovsky, Chela Metzger, and Sunni Pavlovic. The committee was chaired by long time camp alumna, Amy Brunell.

Mark your calendar for next September, or get to any of the other wonderful camps offered at de Benneville Pines throughout the year.

It’s always a good time to take a walk in the woods.

– Judith Martin-Straw

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