Memories from the Early Years

Camp Common Ground Family Camp 1995In honor of our 20th anniversary, we're re-publishing letters that we received from campers in the early years of Camp Common Ground. Many of these can be found in the commemorative Common Ground Center cookbook, which was published in Spring 2014. Please contact us if you'd like to purchase a copy!

(Pictured at right: Camp Common Ground circa 1995!)

October 1995
Dear Peg & Jim,
When I asked Annie & Zack to b
e specific about what they liked about CCG, they answered in unison, “Everything!”…I loved CCG – location, food, freedom, openness, friendliness, acceptance, and especially my work with the preschoolers…Annie said she felt closer to people at camp than the people here in St. Michaels! And Zack, with amazement in his voice, echoed that…A family camp is the only way my kids would ever have experienced an overnight camp. Annie, especially, grew and blossomed in that week in ways that are still impacting her. Every now and then she will do something new, then say to me, “I could never have done that if I hadn’t gone to CCG.”
~Sara Woodall
St. Michaels, MD

September 1996
Hey Peg & all,
So, now it’s weeks since leaving, and I find I can’t isolate many events to write a coherent account, or even the incoherent flow of words I expected would pour out of me on return here…
Some things happened—the nights we gathered after dinner outside the kitchen, sighing and laughing together; the beginnings of musical connection—moments of perfection in blended guitars and voices; finding a place to sit with Kathe, then joined by Dew and Kate and Marcela, under the trees in the soft night; dancing, sweating and jumping in the lake; waking up to one of my favorite childhood melodies, “The Ash Grove,” with new words and unspeakably perfect early-morning-harmonies sung by Joanna and Ginny; seeing and hearing people with open faces, smiles, words of praise & gratitude, an intention, but grown effortless, rising out of the air…
Spending three weeks at Camp, I was sad to leave, but I never felt I was leaving something behind. Instead of thinking of camp as some fantasy, accessible in brief snatches, I came home feeling more hope than ever, more faith in our ability to shape this lifetime, and mindful action…

I love you all—see ya soon!
~Kate Hallen

September 1996
Dear Peg, Jim, and all,
We want to send greetings from this, the western most outpost of the CCG spirit. Fall is here, and for sure frost after the moon changes. The leaves are turning and birds are gathering, even the red tailed hawks and crows, although they don’t migrate, so it seems appropriate for humans to gather too. My father recalled a couple of bands of the Sauk-Winebago coming together and camping in our woods in early fall.
We are fine…Joe still has his cast. Ana rides her horse before and after school. Corn harvest is just starting and the leaves on the soybeans are turning golden. I sowed winter rye last Friday and with luck there will be some to harvest just before CCG next summer. Between farming we are roofing and siding the house with help from an Amish neighbor.
Hope all of you are well.

~Francis Goodman, Ana, & Joe
Note: When he’s not doing caretaking work at Common Ground Center, Francis (pictured at right) continues to update us with letters written with a fountain pen from rural Wisconsin!

September 1996
Peg & Jim
Merci encore for your warm hospitality and human values. Thanks to the whole wonderful staff. Camp Common Ground has been such an important and wondrous stop on the long road.
Much love,

~Kimberley JAIA!

January 1997
Dear Camp Common Ground,
We miss you guys. Dew, all of us are still drumming! Ginny and I visit a women’s drumming circle nearby. The kids play with the drums for fun, alone, and with friends. We also get together with other families and play.
Rachel, whenever we are in the car the kids want to sing “A Cat Has Paws” and “Did You Ever Go Down to the Waterfront.”
Kathe, whenever Julian complains about doing the dishes, we remind him of how many dishes he did at camp!
Love & Hugs,

~Joanna, Ginny, Julian, Saani

November 1998
Dear CCG,
We had a great time at camp. The one word that keeps coming back to me is “wholesome.”
No TV (and it wasn’t missed by our TV and computer-game loving son); wakeup songs along the pathway of tents and cabins; wonderful healthy and plentiful foods; drinking coffee on the front porch of the lodge looking out acress the wide lawn to Lake Champlain and the Green Mountains…and beyond.
The well-organized and fun classes. For all of us it meant trying new things from kayaking (new to us all) to yoga as the sun rose (new to me).
The vacation worked for everyone in the family…and we were able to do things as a family and have some grownup time to ourselves as well.
I loved seeing Sam, our 7 year old, running all over the acres and acres of camp with the friends he made—he had the kind of freedom that he’s never had in our Boston suburb.
Rebecca, our 3 year old, still treasures the necklaces and “bird mask” she made at camp and they both want us to go back for two weeks next summer!

~Emily Soltanoff