BigView – Camp Stories

The BigView – Monthly Feature Camp Stories By Chris Murphy and our awesome ModestoView readers

Going to camp is one of life’s special treasures. Countless movies have been made, the pranks are legendary and the first love that blossomed make stories for the ages. Not all experiences turn out to be like Parent Trap, Meatballs, or Little Darlings, but there are so many of us that grew up going to these summer camps, making friends we have forever and a lifetime of stories to tell. For anyone that ever went to camp, there is something inside of us that stays with us, whether overcoming the fear of singing in front of people, acting crazy and fun, or toughing it out on a 50 mile hike or learning to cook or play the ukulele. Old Oak Ranch, Foothill Horizons, Boy Scout camps at Utica and so many more places are part of our local culture.

Camp Jack Hazard is one of the local camps and there are many stories to tell. It could have had a bad ending as the YMCA self destructed a few years ago, in the process putting Camp Jack Hazard at risk. The Jack and Buena Foundation was created to save the ranch and is now the proud owner of the Camp. On March 16, there will be an amazing fundraiser at the Gallo Center featuring Oakdale native and globally acclaimed singer songwriter Brett Dennen and the soon to be globally acclaimed Good Luck Thrift Store Outfit. These musicians grew up playing together and their sound is amazing an they are donating their valuable time and talent for this fundraising concert. Jason Poisson, currently a teacher at Valley Charter High School will soon take the reins of the Jack & Buena Foundation as Executive Director and will make sure that there will be camp experiences at Jack Hazard for generations to come.

Here are some of the great camp stories we received from our ModestoView readers. One of the first we received was from Brett Dennen. The next 3 of these were selected as our Camp Winners and received tickets to the Mar 16 event.

Brett Dennen My fondest memories of camp were always on the overnights. Watching our counselors prepare food over a fire, washing our dirty faces and hands in rivers and lakes. Of course, roasting marshmallows, putting mud on our faces and giving ourselves animal names. Hiking to the top of peaks and screaming in victory like we could accomplish anything. We learned how to have fun with less, explored our imaginations and the wild places within us while we were out there in the wild, even if it was just for a few days. We learned how to be comfortable in nature, to appreciate it, learned new things about ourselves that I believe we can only truly learn when we are outside, and away from our normal comfort zones. I developed a love for the outdoors at a very young age, and I continue to rekindle that feeling every time I am in the mountains.

Barry Peterson, Modesto Ca So many fond Memories from foothill horizons… I started my trip on our hike accidentally sliding into the river, then had to hike all the way back as I got my know it all rear end chewed by our counselor. I promptly came down with a high fever and Bronchitis, which meant myself and one other camper had to be quarantined for the remainder of our trip. I also remember the bus ride home, Holding a girls hand and being so scared, we hid our hands under a pillow…romance at its finest. Wouldn’t trade the memory for anything!

Stella Johnson  Hull Creek. Here is a story…. I was 6 months pregnant. It was my husband at the time, his best friend and his best friends wife who was also 6 months pregnant. First night, people across from us left in a hurry after we heard screams. It was 3 am… next day we tranferred to their spot, next to the creek. All day was kinda weird. Hearing loud stomps, grunts, etc… we go to sleep in our tents, scared because of the weird noises up in the forest… 3 am, something was sniffing around our tents. My husband friend screams, “I dont know what it is but it isn’t human!!!!” The guys jump out with machetti’s, rifles, we saw the foot prints in the dirt… and we left faster than cheetah’s run.. we swear it was bigfoot…. lol and I still think that..

Gary Gervase: Wish I could show you the photo of the plaque I made in 1965 at Old Oak Ranch – it’s still on the patio in my back yard. Our skit was a lip-sync of the Beach Boys with 5 of us in striped shirts (like the “Concert” album cover. It was also the first time I ever fell in love but it was an older woman – one of the high school sophomores who were counselors…there’s a photo somewhere… (the photo of Gary’s plaque is shown here)

Micki Balentine- Went to camp with First Baptist Church, Total fun and learning for 7 years and there has never been anything better! Just sayin. And we had Summer Camp and Winter Camp……….

Teri Ruscigno –  Went to Mount Madonna last summer with my husband. The first night a raccoon broke into our ice chest and stole our chicken and steaks. The second night I came back from the restroom at 4 am to my husband holding off Ricky raccoon with a flashlight yelling at me to ” GET IN THE TENT” I almost stepped on a snake and we had “skunk” issues! Best camping trip ever!!!

Troy Logan Gilbert – Foothill horizons.. 6th grade camp. It was responsible for both of my first experiences to “Moaning Cavern” and “Calaveras Big Trees” both of which I have been to 100 times since. Our dorm was the “Toyons”. Memories that last a lifetime and an invaluable experience to any Central Ca kid’s upbringing.

Pati Hayes-  Camp Jack Hazard, pre-teen to staff. My favorite part of my childhood, the kitchen crew OMG

Kimberly En Fuego Humke-  CJH for my whole family! My mom and dad both went (he was a director for a while), my brother was a camper and staff (and was in Cabin 1 the year it burned down), me as a camper and staff, and now my niece goes every summer!

Corina’s Cake Pops- Camp jack hazard loved the kitchen crew when they would come out and sing We Will We Will Rock You!!! And who can ever forget the Flying Cazaenza Brothers!!! Loved all the great memories went from 3rd grade to Jr High loved all the lanterns we made and going to Eagle Meadows for the horseback trip.

Tammi Tatum- Yes, i remember the counselor (isn’t he the one kneeling in this pic?) who sang we will rock you and how we would pound on the table for the beat. too freakin awesome!!! What year is this pic???? Looks sooooo familiar. YM YM YMCA CA CA CAMP Y M C A C A M P… love the memories!!



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About the Author:

Chris Murphy is the President and CEO of Sierra Pacific Warehouse Group and Publisher and Founder of ModestoView Inc. Chris worked globally in the cycling industry returning to Modesto in 1996. He is also the founder of the Modesto Historic Graffiti Cruise Route, Legends of the Cruise Walk of Fame, Modesto Rockin’ Holiday, the Modesto Music History Organization and co-founder of the Modesto Area Music Association. Chris is married to his artist wife Rebecca since 1985 and has two daughters Madison and Abigail, both graduating from Modesto High and UC Berkeley. He is lead singer and guitarist for his band, Third Party that donates their performances to non-profits.