In October of 1991 my house burned down in the Oakland Hills firestorm. It's not something I think about very often but it's on my mind right now because of the fires in California that are burning now.
My wife's cousin Lark is like a sister: they grew up together, they're about the same age, and Lark, forever an iconoclast, was Laurel's Best Man at her wedding. As kids, Lark and Laurel spent many summers together at Tuolumne. Lark's family, the Doolans, are a legacy family at the camp, going back for generations. Though camp was only a few days in the summer, it was something Lark brought up all year long, because camp was something she carried with her and not just a place her family went to sit in the green chair circle and have a good time.
I only went to Tulolumne one time, when Laurel was pregnant with Fenton, who is 1.5 years old now. I appreciated Tuolumne right away. It reminded me of being at Camp Tawonga, which I went to for years, or what I imagined Lair of the Bear was like. During that first stay, I did climb Beaverhead on my second day trying. I also had what some would describe as a near-death experience. We were visiting Little Falls and the river was very strong and I got caught in a position that was difficult to extract myself from with some hazard involved. Laurel's dad Jed helped me get out and I was fine, only a little banged up. There's no need to be dramatic about it.
We thought about going to camp this year but decided to skip it and go next year. We were only just talking about it. We didn't know what Fenton's temperament would be like as a 1.5 year old when we made the decision. In hindsight we now see he would have been fine and he would have loved it. But we also had agreed that given everything else about the summer, we were relieved we didn't go to Tuolumne. And then the fires burned out of control.
The thing about replacing the structure, is that can be done easily enough. But the trees won't grow back for decades. Camp is something you carry within you and not just a place with a green chair circle, but those trees won't be back soon. It's a bloody shame.
A building from Camp Tawonga burned down, so I hear. I don't know what that means. In the Oakland firestorm, our whole block of houses burned down but not the school I attended across the street. From the schoolyard every day I saw them rebuild my house during recess. When we rebuilt I was able once more to cross 1 crosswalk and enter my schoolyard.
Fires burn things. Fire always wins. Trees always win in cities - look at the sidewalks - and fires beat trees. The deck is stacked in favor of fire. It's just rough when it happens.