So the other day I received an email from a camper from the very second year of the Open Road program (1979) saying he had discovered the MTA website and it looked like we had gotten spoiled. He could be right but I’m older and wiser and it’s nice to have the best of both worlds.
But I should mention when my wife and I started our residential program (between ORE & MTA) there was nothing at all easy about that first year. All of the rain we’ve had the past couple of years (at least here in Western North Carolina) reminded me of that very first summer at TrailRidge Mountain Camp in 1982. The boys arrived to find out there were no cabins, there were no flush toilets, there were no real hot showers, and there was no dining hall. We hardly had electricity. The idea was that the boys were coming up that first summer to help us “build” the camp. And they did arrive…by the dozens.
We slept in tents and tarps and endured rain. And we endured more rain. And more rain. In fact, that summer was a record setter back then. I imagine that record has been recently broken. We cooked under a dining fly and used solar showers (if we showered at all) and had one of five porta-potties to choose from.
Then, as expected, the health department discovered we were running this camp and we had as of that moment not been permitted. That’s another story.
Well, we had an ultimatum to get those tents off the ground, get the bathhouse open, get the dining hall opened and inspected, and quit drinking water out of the spring. We had a weekend to get it done, but luckily the Fourth of July was around the weekend so we got an extra day or two. We did get it done. The rain didn’t stop. Most of the kids had fun. Some of them came back. And we continued running the camp for the next 14 years or so.
And then I was back to traveling and the camp morphed into MTA. And I’ll tell you, it’s the way to go! And no matter which way we travel or camp…we make new memories (almost like these) every single day.
This first photo was from our 1979 Open Road trip. It was seven weeks long - SEVEN WEEKS! We traveled from New Orleans to New England and into Canada. We called ourselves, "The Dirty Dozen."
The second photo is from the very first couple of week or so at TrailRidge. This was an example of someone's shelter. Nothing else about that summer.