up, one of the few things to inspire me was Camp Adams. I quite literally
counted the days. As time went on, and I transitioned from camper
to staffer, my love of camp became indistinguishable from my love
of Sarah. Two things strike me every time I reminisce of that place:
1) the absolutely brilliant, silly fun I've had with the campers and
the staff alike; and, 2) the rich, organic feeling you get living
amongst the trees. I couldn't think of a better way to encapsulate
my feelings for Sarah.
the summers of 1996 and 1997 I was lifeguard while Sarah was 'nature
lady'. In 1999 and 2001 we directed camp togetherfirst a week of 6th
graders, and then a week of 4th and 5th graders. In 2002 I was staff
coordinator for the summer, and Sarah was again involved in directing.
From the very beginning of our friendship, I absolutely adored her—in
fact, she was everyone's favorite. She was ceaselessly inventive,
refreshingly innocent, and she had an infectious smile that could
not go ignored. No matter what friction or stress arose on those long,
underpaid days at camp, she was the glue that held the staff together
because she was so much the embodiment of what we wanted to share
with the kids. Seeing her come up the trail in her overalls and ragged
Henry Weinhard's t-shirt was like watching a sunrise, and I have never
had a more sincere hug. I made so many friends at Camp Adams, but
she and I were inseparable—she was truly a kindred spirit.
was such a courageous person, always challenging herself with goals
or projects that would seem outlandish coming from anyone but her.
I still admire how she would forgo the cabin for sleeping out of doors
every night—most often alone. It still blows my mind that after
having been the first to experience the haunted tree up on the logging
road (I can personally attest to the reality of this phenomenon),
she went up there alone on more than one occasion just to confront
her fear (and the spirit). The kind of connection with nature most
of us seek on vacation she sought every day. I would do anything to
again share with her a starry night on the 'peninsula' next to Nate
Creek, or one more brisk night swim under the waterfall and the long
shadow of the tall trees. Her creativity was dizzying at times. And
like most things in her life, her projects and activities would alternate
between those created for the sake of goofy fun, and those created
for the sake of more serious environmental or humanitarian concerns.
Kids were called on to help her with the statue of Harold the groundskeeper,
artwork constructed from junkyard materials, carefully illustrated
and thought-out family crests, the building of small villages out
of items found in the forest, long hikes to identify plants and animals
(or maybe just to get muddy), and so many other activities that we
can be sure inspired countless young minds.
were other times, too, when kids needed more than just the typical
camp experience. Quite often, Sarah was called upon for her social
worker skills. I know her gift was a burden at times, but no matter
the situation, kids and adults alike always responded to her. She
had such a talent for listening, presenting the options, and helping
the troubled person(s) to achieve a broader perspective.
of camp we met less often, but whenever I was so lucky as to see her
for even just a few hours, I was guaranteed a memorable time. Actually,
for a time she was enraptured with the idea of 'spontaneous fun days',
and there was no predicting what might happen. On one such day in
Walla Walla we played Scrabble outside, climbed multiple trees, raided
a country thrift store (more of a barn than a store), attended a college
party, and climbed the tallest building late that night to see what
there was to see. I have always been a fairly moody, somber person.
Sarah would take the world just as seriously, but wouldn't forget
to let go and have fun along the way. She was such a gift to me in
that way. So it didn't surprise me at all to awake one frigid winter
night to Sarah and her friends arriving at my farmhouse to watch a
meteor shower. A lot of these simple, but lasting, pleasures would
have passed me by if it weren't for her.
Sarah and I had some backpacking adventures too. Most vivid in my
mind is a one-night trek way up the Salmon River Canyon. By the time
we reached our destination late in the day, the entire mountain was
fogged in, and the lake we were intending to camp on was nowhere to
be seen. We spent two extra, feet-blistering hours searching for water
and, in the end, had to hike up to get snow to melt. There have been
few times I have been so fatigued, but we had such a good time. When
we awoke in the morning to an incredible view of the Cascades (still
so vivid in my mind's eye), the lake was, of course, right down the
path from our tent.
last time I saw Sarah was in late June of 2004. She and I hiked up
to Angel's Rest in the Columbia River Gorge. I am so grateful for
that time with her. As always, it was as if no time had passed during
my time away. We chatted all the way up the mountain, we chatted on
top of the mountain, we chatted on the way down the mountain, and
then we hung out in the trailhead parking lot for another hour continuing
to laugh and catch up. She spoke with humility and gratitude and love
when speaking of Joseph. She spoke with laughter and joy when speaking
of her family. And she spoke with conviction and amazement about her
social and political activities. I made it very clear that I could
not wait to come back to help her with her projects—and that
I looked forward to the day when I could again share everyday kind
of moments with her.
may seem that I've missed my chance for that, but I know I haven't.
I grieve still, but more often I try to mirror the spirit of her life
in my own. It is astonishing how far this goes to improving my perspective
and my interactions with others. Her voice still— resonates
in my ear. It's so simple, but the single most memorable thing about
her for me was how after months of months of having not talked to
each other, I'd pick up the phone to her hilarious "Mr. Micah
was, and is, so many beautiful people at once: a child at play, an
activist, a worker, and my sister. She's been such an inspiration
that some day I hope to have started a charitable outdoor education
camp in her name. She's not gone, and no doubt we'll be gathering
many, many years from now to remember her and tell our stories. And
even then, in a crowded room full of good people, she’ll still
outshine us all.