Buddy Bag was packed with more than usual and had to have his sister bag, Betty, on call also as they were heading to Deer Valley with changes in weather a guarantee. It is my annual trip to "Gramma's Camp," which was called "Women's Physical Fitness Camp" thirty years ago. Now that the women are at least thirty years older, they pack their knitting needles and crochet hooks, their bestseller books to read, and warmer clothing to wear. In place of hiking boots, sailing outfits, and shorts to wear are fuzzy pajamas and sweat pants several sizes larger than what was worn some years ago.
Deer Valley is a place not like any other in the world attended by women unlike any others in the world. These are women who are leaders, poets, and mothers to leaders and poets as well. We have laughed, cried, and shared our lives with each other for many years and look forward to getting together the last week in September every year.
The changing of leaves are always more vivid at Mount Davis, the highest point in Pennsylvania, with two beautiful lakes to reflect the images. The Amish farms are pristine and beautiful as well. Although we are not to photograph these private people in their horse drawn carriages or walking barefoot on their way home from school, I turn the car around for a second and third look. They have such a peace about their faces, and their simple life—without all the technology of cell phones, computers, and iPods—makes me think whether we need these things in our lives also. Another great advantage of Deer Valley is there is no cell phone reception and no computer hookups so there are no interruptions in our sharing, meditations, or exercise classes.
I have lost track of how many years I have attended "Women's Week," which is the new politically correct name for it. When I walked into dinner last Sunday, I spotted my favorite Deer Valley sweatshirt, "You Look Marvelous," Fifi the French Skunk shirt, on a fellow camper. When I asked her how long she has had it, she volunteered, "At least twenty-six years." How many women do you know who save and wear a shirt with a skunk on it for over twenty-six years? That was reality, hitting me square on, telling me how much we all love this place.
In addition to the lovely landscapes, waterfront, and cottages, there is every class possible, available free as part of the camp experience. One can start the day with a hike around the lake, yoga, zumba, or a sleep-in until the breakfast bell chimes at 8:15 AM. The breakfasts are to die for if you are not counting your calories, but they have even thought of those who are eating healthier nowadays. They offer alternatives of oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruits, juices, whole wheat breads, and muffins.
You can guess that I go for the waffles, sausages, eggs, and mountain foods that stick to your stomach as I wouldn't want to lose weight at the "table for dieters." This table has been done away with a long time ago. Yes, a nutritionist tried to get some of us to eat lighter and actually lose weight and become more fit. We may have gotten more fit, but the weight loss lost its appeal a long time ago. This nutritionist didn't even come this year. Maybe she isn't eating enough calories to keep up with the canoeing, kayaking, zip-lining, horseback riding, walking, etc. Let's face it: one has to become more fit than we had been at home in front of our computers, televisions, and iPhones.
For those of us that come to rest and relax, there are many classes in crafts, ceramics, fabric arts, and fine arts. That's where I come in to share with others. Some years ago, I took my drawing and painting materials with me to capture the art essence for myself. When the director saw me out on the patio of the Hecker Activity Center, she asked if I would be interested in sharing my talents and interest with others.
After some consideration, I decided to share my love for art and taught "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" and "Experimental Watercolor." What pleasure and satisfaction I have derived from seeing women who have never drawn a picture or painted before say, "I can't believe I actually did this picture of a horse, landscape, man, or woman." So many people will say, "I have no talent and can't draw or paint." This is not true, of course, as we must explore our inner self and draw upon our hidden talents, of which we have many.
Now you know why I had to take Buddy's sister bag, Betty, with me as well. Towels, sheets, sleeping bags, and clothing for temperatures from 30-75 degrees may take place in one 24-hour period take more room than Buddy Bag can fit in his 20" by 12" area, and don't forget the extra art materials I need to take for those who may not have them. Never let it be said that a person cannot take Miss Dorothy's art class because they did not have the necessary materials.
When one of the women in my class volunteered to give me a lift to Cumberland, Maryland, to pick up my car which had been towed there when it wouldn't start a few nights earlier, I gave her a watercolor set, brush, and watercolor paper. That was like giving her a million dollars as she told me that she has a nerve disease that keeps her hand shaking from time to time, but it didn't do so when she was in my class. She also said there were no art stores in her area and she would use and treasure my small gift to her. Where can a person get that kind of satisfaction?
Deer Valley, of course! It is indeed a special place. Buddy and Betty and I look forward to September 22, 2013, when we go back.