Backpacking and Camping in Point Reyes

By David Jaeger

Jesuit Volunteer, David Jaeger, had the opportunity to co-lead an outdoor trip with 8 Corpsmembers to Point Reyes National Seashore.

I will quickly admit that I am not the best driver in the world. After receiving this warning, six Corpsmembers confirmed my self-evaluation shortly after hopping into a van headed northwest from our West Oakland academy site. After a few rough turns out of the parking lot and onto the highway, the driving went much more smoothly, and about an hour later, we arrived at the Bear Valley Welcome Center (all in one piece, as we’d hoped). When on the trail, there is a Civicorps tradition of using “wilderness names.” So, after we stopped for a sandwich break, we swapped our ordinary names for new monikers, did some stretching, and had a short team ritual to take us away from the mindsets we normally inhabit and towards an attunement to the trails. Now prepared, we set off on an hour’s hike towards our camping spot in the coastal valley for what would be a short but memorable backpacking trip.

Our group of 8 Corpsmembers and 5 staff, pitched tents at our campsite by the trail and quickly trotted down to the beach path just in time to see the sun setting and giving way to a beautiful near-full-moon. Osa* and Socks* even (bravely and enthusiastically) fully immersed themselves in the frigid ocean before we made the short trek back to our campsite. As things would have it, the fire would be a bit tricky for us this weekend- two of our three camping stoves weren’t working well at all. Nevertheless, we were still able to enjoy our pot of spaghetti and cooked vegetables. After we had some warm food in our stomachs, we headed back to the beach to try our hands at making a bonfire.

Our second attempt at a fire was stubborn and meek at first, but with enough kindling and about half an hour of effort, we had a fire worthy of s’more-making and were more than warm enough to become engrossed in several games of Mafia. After the game, we began the proverbial campfire ghost stories and we were quickly engrossed in Ya-you’s* tales of haunted hotel rooms and stealthy campsite visitors, followed by Bread’s* first venture into story-telling improvisation (regrettably cut short). After a few hours of our bonfire circle, the flames died down and in the quiet night we slept, for the most part peacefully, until dawn.

All of us spent the next windy morning on the beach, where we enjoyed the feeling of ocean waves on our flesh, let our feet dig into the sand, and explored or reclined while taking in the view of the coast and open sky. As we walked back and neared our vans, someone in our group astutely pointed to a clearing in the woods- and lo, there was a group of six elk grazing in the distance. We would have loved to have spent many more hours in Point Reyes, for there were many trails and sights that we did not have the chance to tread, but perhaps in the future, Corpsmembers and staff will take another trip to explore its beauty.

Before heading out, we ate our lunch at a trailhead and as a group, we transitioned back into our everyday names and roles. In our closing circle, we noted that almost all of us appreciated the opportunity to get away from the hustle of the city, to learn more about each other’s histories, to reflect, and attune ourselves to life on the trail, if only for a day. So, don’t let our appearances fool you. Everyone on this trip, whether it was their first time camping or the 300th time, transformed in some way or another, immersed with a new appreciation for each other and with new insights into ourselves and to this vast world we find ourselves in.

*Wilderness Name

Tervell: Big Steak
Roderick: Bread
Autumn: Wildlife Autumn
Keyone: Devon
Damario: Birdbox
Anthony: Bucko
Rosalinda: Osa
Jesus: Oso

Lauren: Ya-you
Eli: Moth
David: Stinging Nettle
Carl: Socks
Danny: Lil Steak

P.S. The driving went much more smoothly on the way back to Oakland also, just so you know.

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Civicorps Ski Trip 2019

What do you get when you have a detective, an angel, 3 mafiosos, and a cabin full of Corpsmembers? Mafia! This party game of deception, intuition and storytelling was so much fun during this year’s Civicorps weekend ski trip.

This past weekend Corpsmembers partook in Civicorps’ annual ski trip. Six Corpsmembers, 4 staff including Civicorps’ Jesuit Volunteers, and 7 Environmental Traveling Companions Guides and volunteers shared a cabin in Arnold, CA, and cross country skied at Big Trees State Park. It was the first time Corpsmembers experienced the snow.

“My favorite part of the weekend was seeing snow. I’ve only seen snow on TV. I’ve also never skied and falling was my favorite part. Everyone kept a smile on their face as they tried their best. Thank you to the ETC staff and volunteers for making this possible.” – CP, Corpsmember

The weekend forecasted a winter storm, however the excitement of being in the outdoors did not prevent our Corpsmembers from staying indoors. We suited up in our ski gear and went out in the cold to experience something new.

“I’m really impressed with everyone’s attitude. This was a huge storm. Nine out of 10 groups ETC hosts would have stayed away. But everyone’s attitude was great, and we made it a great weekend with 3 feet of snow. My favorite moment was when we reached the split (halfway to our destination), and everyone wanted to keep going.” – Jake, ETC Winter Program Leader

“The ski lesson on the parking lot was my favorite moment. It was so hard, folks were crisscrossing their skis and falling. But people were smiling. Even when Jake kept recommending to take off the skis, [Corpsmembers] were determined to stay on them and learn.” – Naseem, ETC Winter Program Volunteer

After a long day of skiing, we returned to the cabin where we made dinner and engaged in fun activities like Mancala and Apples to Apples. One of the most popular games that everyone liked was Mafia. Folks were passionate and really got to share in their story telling abilities.

“My favorite moment of the weekend was meeting everyone and playing Mafia. That’s the best game I’ve ever played.” – Rakeem, Corpsmember

When Sunday morning came, we were snowed in and the power went out due to a falling tree on the highway. During that time, Corpsmembers went sledding, while staff and volunteers shoveled snow. We finally made it out and arrived safely back to Oakland. This weekend would not have been possible without the support of ETC’s volunteers and guides. We thank them for welcoming us to their cabin and making it a home for us. It’s always a pleasure bringing our Corpsmember out of the town and into the outdoors.

See more photos on our Facebook Page!

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