The natural beauty that surrounds Chiloquin creates a powerful experience. Because the town of Chiloquin itself is so small, the opportunities to see the areas around it allow for a distinguishable connection with nature. The spirit walk location overlooks great views of the land, lakes, and all the way to the mountains on the other side. Being so high up, there is so much to see and take in. The scenery was so vast that I was able to pick up on something new every week of the summer.
“This made for quick gratification for the volunteers, being able to go from seeing an empty space on the ground at the start of the day, to saying “I planted that tree” by the end of the work day.”
Chiloquin’s Adventure Wednesday spot at Collier State Park, by contrast, is nestled in the trees by the Williamson River. What’s especially cool about this location is that volunteers got to do their Wednesday service there, swim in the river, feast on a barbecue dinner, and worship through evening program.
The park rangers who led the Wednesday work were wonderful in educating the volunteers about fire prevention and upkeep of the natural space, but even more special was the opportunity they gave volunteers to plant trees! This made for quick gratification for the volunteers, being able to go from seeing an empty space on the ground at the start of the day, to saying “I planted that tree” by the end of the work day. It was especially neat knowing that before that, most of the volunteers wouldn’t have been able to say that they had planted a tree. Everyone was really excited about it, and got to stick around and continue to appreciate their work for the rest of the day.
I personally never got tired of smelling those ponderosa pines. It may be a trivial detail, but a very real joy. I suggested giving those trees a sniff to many a volunteer, and whether that was met with confusion, skepticism, or no question at all, no one was disappointed by the experience once they leaned in for a whiff.
Editor’s Note: Caroline Hines has served on summer staff for two summers and will be returning to Chiloquin as the Spiritual Life Coordinator in summer 2019. Caroline attended SSP as a youth volunteer with Half Moon Bay United Methodist Church. There is still space for volunteers to serve in Chiloquin this summer. Check out the current availability here.