Articles From the August 1995 Unification News
"I Can't Believe It's Snowing In June!"
by Kristina Seher-Berkeley, CA
The Sunshine School took its annual camping trip to spectacular Yosemite National Park in Northern California June 6-9. Twenty seven students in grades 2-8, along with their teachers, Brenna Iredale, Susan Liebermann, Poppy Richie and I, and several volunteer dads, Jan DeGoede, Nicholas Buscovich, Bill Bechtel and Richard Zinke, made the trip.
We were expecting balmy June weather. Last year the temperature at Yosemite the same week in June had reached over 100 degrees! Everyone packed shorts and tee shirts and we even brought our bathing suits (even though the crystal clear waters there are formed from the melting snowpack and are just above freezing temperature). The first day we set up our tents and arranged our campsite. We camped in a beautiful spot, nestled among majestic redwoods, just beside a spectacular mountain meadow filled with songbirds and wildflowers. There have been several incidents this spring in Yosemite with bears in the campsites, so the rangers warned us not to leave even a candy wrapper in our pockets or in a locked car. Some bears had destroyed cars in order to get food inside. We spent the first evening "bear- proofing" our camp. We carefully stored our food in special metal "bear boxes" and carried every last little scrap of candy wrappers to special bear-proof garbage cans. I even got up in the middle of the night, remembering in horror that my daughter had smeared marshmallow on her pancho while roasting s'mores. I had visions of bears slashing apart her tent, smelling the marshmallows. I hiked up the hill in the dark with the pancho and washed it in freezing cold water to insure that no bears were attracted.
The next day we all woke up, alive and in one piece! No one had seen a bear in camp-although several students thought they saw something big and furry which they were pretty sure was a bear! We didn't see one all week, as a matter of fact.
Each day was packed with wonderful experiences. We had morning service and meditation time in the beautiful meadow, bathed by the warm sun. Breakfast and dinner were cooked over the campfire, with students whittling their own roasting sticks for marshmallows and hot dogs. During the day we took long and exciting hikes. The first day we hiked around Mirror Lake, at the foot of Half Dome.
The second day we had a thrilling climb up a very narrow and steep trail along the side of a rushing, roaring waterfall-Vernal Falls. There was so much snow melting in the peaks (which we could see all around us) that the river was fuller than it had been in decades. The water roared past us, over us, and down our necks and shoes as we valiantly climbed and climbed. Though it was very long and steep, I am so proud of the Sunshine School kids-not one person complained or wanted to quit. Finally, we reached the top. We stood right next to the river and touched the wall of water as it plunged over the cliff. Then we sat in the warm sun and ate our lunches, soaked but totally victorious!
As we began our descent (just as wet and dangerous as the ascent), clouds rolled in, chilling us. By the time we made it down the mountain, it appeared that we were in for a Sierra storm. To our amazement, as we approached our campsite, not rain, but snow began to fall! It piled up on the tree branches, gilding them with white. It lay thick enough on the ground to make snowmen and (of course) snowballs! We stopped long enough to have a good snowball fight and then rushed back to camp to change into dry clothes. For some kids, it was the first time they had ever touched snow! That night we built up a blazing campfire and after dinner we had a hilarious game of "Creation Charades," bathed in its warmth.
Another day we spent just playing "Pinecone Baseball," coached by Nicholas Buscovich, and doing watercolor paintings of the beauty all around us in the meadow. We visited an authentic Ahwahnee Native American village, still used by the Ahwahneechees, to learn how they had successfully lived off the land. We visited the gift shop and kids bought special souvenirs of the trip. Each night we ended with song, circle, and prayer.
It was a wonderful trip. No one wanted to return to civilization at the end of the week. We all felt closer to Heavenly Father through the drama and exquisite beauty of His Creation.
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