Close your eyes and think back to that one remarkable camp experience you wished could last forever, where you met new people and discovered things you didn’t know about yourself. How quickly would you decide to relive it?
I remember my camp experience 10 years ago at Redwood Grove Nature Camp as if it were yesterday. Keith Gutierrez led the camp, enlightening campers about the towering redwoods and the ways the Ohlone Indians survived off the land in years past.
“Ranger Keith” had an enthusiasm for nature that cannot be replicated. Once he left Redwood Grove in 2008, the camp lacked the magic he brought to it.
Gutierrez has worked as a nature guide, teacher and enthusiast for more than 34 years, showing children all over the Bay Area how to stay in touch with and appreciate nature and past cultures. In addition to his time at Redwood Grove, he has worked at Hidden Villa and Deer Hollow Farm, sharing his passion for nature with tens of thousands of children.
Gutierrez now organizes school presentations and oversees summer camps. For the past five years, I have been a camp counselor at his A Touch of the Earth Summer Day Camps, where I have been able to relive and replay my childhood memories.
In recent years, attendance at the camps has declined, and there is now a possibility that this institution of learning could disappear and the experience I had when I was young could end.
Please join me in the fight to help save Gutierrez’ nature camps. As we become a more technologically crazed society, we begin to lose touch with nature and all it has to offer.
A former camper recently wrote to Gutierrez about how his experiences at nature camps shaped who he is today:
“... Thank you for giving me such an amazing opportunity to attend camp at Redwood Grove. You provided me with my favorite camp experience of my childhood, and I have not and will never forget the joy of running free through the creek and eating the succulent blackberries.
“My last year as a camper also turned out to be your last year as caretaker, and now that I’m working for the city as a counselor, I see just how much has changed ... Even though the kids I see every week will never be as lucky to be shown nature through your eyes, I was lucky enough to be given that privilege, and for that I cannot thank you enough.”
Nico Noriega attends Archbishop Mitty High School.