When our children were little (and as they grew into their teen years) we would go fishing for a week each year at The Juniper Club with a handful of our dearest friends and their children. It was the perfect place to take a family: nothing fancy, no cell phone or internet service, no TV, only one public telephone in the hallway, no place to spend any money, meals were included and served family style, the kids could be outside all day – fishing and exploring. At night, they worked puzzles, played cards, or went on "bear hunts." Books were read, songs were sung, guns were fired, alligators and owls were spotted.
Back in the fall, the now-empty-nester parents speculated on how fun it would be to get all the kids back together for a reunion camp this summer. We issued the invitations and then sat back, fully expecting most of the now-grown-children-with-lives-of-their-own, to politely decline, sighting jobs, school, significant others, or generally busy lives as excuses not to come.
But one by one, they accepted. Yes, they would love to come. Yes, they too thought it would be fun to be together. So on June 16, four sets of parents, one sister, and 14 grown children (including four friends) made their way by car or by plane down to the camp.
We spent the week doing the same things that we always did: fishing, eating, walking the mile-long gravel drive, shooting clay pigeons, working puzzles late into the night, singing (loudly) the pre-dinner song, and catching up with friends.
Since we were last there as a group, all the kids have graduated from high school, all but two are finished with college, four have graduate degrees or are working on them. And all have turned out to be delightful adults – ones that I would gladly spend a week's vacation with.
One night at dinner, we flipped through a guest register from the year 2000 and saw where we caught a total of 66 bass at a one-week camp. This year, the same group caught 425! We laughted, remembering that as parents we were so busy baiting lines and unhooking fish that we rarely put a line in ourselves. Today, each of the children is an accomplished boat driver and fisherperson.
In addition to catching some very large bass, Jack took some beautiful photographs. Here's a look at some of his bird photos.
|Osprey landing at nest with fish in claw|
|Red-shouldered hawk, waiting to swoop down on fish bait.|
The thing I haven't yet mentioned in this post is that three of the families that came to camp had experienced a recent loss of a loved one. What I hope they found at Juniper was the beginning of a healing from those losses. Just to be among close friends, in the middle of a beautiful natural setting, hoping to reel in a large bass, sleeping soundly, eating well, laughing alot. That's the Juniper Spirit.