Reminiscences from Camp Joy Apprentice, Olive Huxley

Where I grew up is not what one would necessarily call the norm. In 1971, my grandparents founded Camp Joy Gardens, a teaching nonprofit farm. They raised my mom and eventually me on this farm, which has affected me greatly. If it was not for the neighborhood I grew up in I would not have had the same opportunities to learn and meet people that I will always love.  My neighborhood and where I grew up have helped me grow and evolve into an outgoing nature loving person with friendships that will last a lifetime.

I have always been an outgoing kid who is not afraid to speak up when it is needed. My sister, who is seven years older than me, is consistently very nervous talking to people she does not know very well. For example, when I was seven years old my sister and I were in the grocery store. We could not find the bagels that we wanted and my sister did not want to ask anybody where they were. So I marched right up to the grocery store attendant and asked him in a big voice where the bagels were. At this moment I helped my older sister stand up and speak up for what she needed. I credit my ability to ask questions and speak up when I need to, to the neighborhood I grew up in. Growing up, there have been many apprentices on the farm coming and going who were learning around me. I would always strike up conversations with them thus forming me into a very outgoing person. Because I grew up in a community that was full of people at all times it conditioned me to speak up and tell people what I needed even at seven years old. 

Not many ten-year-olds can teach people how to prune fruit trees but I have a grandpa that taught me how. My grandpa taught people who came to the farm how to do many things from how to take care of beehives to when to plant what seeds. One thing he taught often was how to prune apple trees. I had listened to him give his talk a few times about where to cut the branches, how much to cut, and why one does it. One day I was at the farm when my grandpa was not and someone was trying to prune a tree. I took it upon myself to teach the twenty-four-year-old how to prune. At this time I was able to teach someone much older than me how to do something mature for my age. This illustrates how much my knowledge of nature is and was heightened because of the neighborhood I grew up in. I became the teacher in place of my grandpa. It was unexpected for someone of my age but I taught them well. If I had not grown up in the neighborhood that I did, I would not know nearly as much about nature and gardening as I do now. Even now I still thoroughly enjoy spending my free time out in nature because it is where I feel most at home and comfortable.

Camp Joy was always a massive and loving community with many people involved. I can say that I have at least three close friends that I have had since I was two. When I was eight my best friends and I, who all grew up in the same neighborhood, carved our names into some of the wood surrounding my goat pen. We sloppily carved each other’s names, the year, and “The Clubhouse” with a sharp stick into the softwood. I am still friends with all of these people today. Growing up with people so close to me has forced me to have lifelong friends. Because of the neighborhood I was raised in, I have strong connections that have lasted many years. We all may have grown apart over the years, as humans do, but I will always be able to devote my strong friendships to Camp Joy. Despite some moving and us growing apart a bit, I can confidently say that I talk to every single one still and I will always feel like I can trust them. We can not talk for months and then when we hang out again we are immediately back to our old selves like we are hanging back by the goat pen once again. 

Because of the neighborhood, I was raised in I have adopted many good traits. It is because of Camp Joy that I have so many close friends, that I am outgoing, and have a lot of knowledge about nature. I give Camp Joy laurels for all of these things and I am eternally grateful to have grown up in the neighborhood that I did.

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