Chocolates, Chess, Caching, and Camps

I spent yesterday in Medford, Oregon. This large metropolitan area of Southern Oregon provided a lot for me to do! I started out by attending a business seminar about marketing, sponsored by Southern Oregon University at their downtown Medford campus. This was the same place that I went to college, and I drove the same van I drove to college and parked in the same parking garage that I parked in during college and walked down the same street to the same building that most of my college classes had been in. Ah, memories. I then went down the street to an event at the Harry and David world headquarters, where I was sure to munch on all kinds of chocolate-covered goodies. The only thing left on my agenda was to attend a banquet that evening, but since I had some time before that began, I went back to downtown Medford to play chess with some man.

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For the past twelve years, this man has been sitting at Vogel Park trying to determine his next move at chess. He’s really into the game. Nothing can distract him from his contemplation, even through stolen chess pieces, spray paint on his face, and other acts of vandalism. Across the table from him is an open seat where any passer-by is invited to play against him. I tried, but since I don’t know how to play chess and his turn was taking way too long, I got a little frustrated.

losing chess to a statue

One of the reasons I visited this piece of art was because there was a nearby geocache. Now typically, I don’t like geocaching in high-traffic places, and this little park is on what is probably the busiest corner in Medford. When people walked by, I would nonchalantly sit there, pretending to check a message on my phone or something like that. As soon as they were out of sight, I would duck underneath a table and search for the geocache. Since there were always cars waiting at the stoplights, I tried to stay on the side of the tables that faced away from the streets. I finally got to the chair that I was almost certain had the geocache underneath. But lots of people were walking by at that point, so I had to just sit there as I casually tried to feel the bottom of the chair for something magnetic. Finally, when everyone was gone, I looked under the chair and found that coveted geocache!

chess cache

As I was emptying this little cache of its contents, I found out that one of the drivers in a truck waiting at the stoplight was obviously watching me. He rolled down his window and yelled “Did you find the geocache?” I’m glad he at least knew what geocaching was. Oftentimes, people who catch me searching think I lost something, or that I’m just plain crazy!

After finding the geocache, I went back to the van and drove down the street a little ways to the inn where I would be attending a benefit banquet for Wildnerness Trails, which provides free camps to kids in crisis situations. Now, I recently ended a three-year career in camp ministry, but while you can take a girl out of camp, I guess you can’t take the camp out of a girl! Even though I won’t be working for Wilderness Trails, I did use the evening to meet the Girls Camp Director and turn in a volunteer application so that I can help with winter retreats whenever I’m available. Oh, and the banquet was amazing! There were several guest speakers who were campers, leaders, and local pastors, but I have to admit that the highlight was definitely the catering! Two types of salad, vegetables, and several main course choices. And the dessert was amazingly rich whatever it was. To me it tasted like a huge slab of fudge drizzled with raspberry syrup and topped with a raspberry. I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed such a fancy meal from a camp-organized event!

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Although I’ve never been to the Wilderness Trails camp, between talking with the volunteers at my table and reading about all the great things they do, I am definitely looking forward to going there this winter. For winter retreats, there is a cozy lodge to stay  in, but in the summer they have archery, canoeing, lake ziplines, horses, and they sleep in tepees! In the room outside the banquet hall, they had a few camp-themed items set up, including one of their tepees!

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