Like many things last year, the Pigeon Community Multicultural Development Center’s annual field trip to White Oak’s Selah Farm was cancelled due to COVID, a sad thing for certain.
I became fast friends with the PCMDC’s coordinator, Lin Forney, after meeting her at a birthday party with our then young boys in 2003. Over pizza, Lin shared how her summer camp for kids had just gotten started, and I shared with her our hope to make our home a place where visitors could find rest, as well as have fun — two things that, as we’ve discovered, often go hand in hand.
Soon after, the PCMDC’s Selah Farm field trip was born, and since 2004, our family’s been blessed with an abundance of splashing, as well as squeals of joy, one day each summer, with the exception of July 2020. This year marked sixteen years, to be exact, and Lin and I couldn’t have been happier to be back together.
The field trip’s schedule has remained quite predictable. Campers look forward to a tour of the barn, including an opportunity to gather eggs, and they’re able to meet and even feed our family’s goats and chickens. In years past, there have even been horseback rides, though our lone Missouri Fox Trotter Mick is now retired and enjoys grazing in the pasture.
Campers also get a peek inside the greenhouse, are able to try asparagus and other homegrown fruits and vegetables, and are encouraged to pick wildflowers atop our family’s root cellar.
There’s basketballs and scooters, as well as a trampoline and playground.
Mostly, there’s the pond — the very first feature we installed when we purchased the property from Earl and Eva Mae Ledford in 2001. For hours, campers enjoy boating, fishing, and swimming — creating unique jumps or dives off the “big rock,” as they call it.
Before campers depart, there’s watermelon, a bonfire for roasting marshmallows for s’mores, and pasture rides, with joyous laughter from those packed on a trailer pulled by an ATV.
Which brings me to two particular things — or shall I say “special persons”— missing this time. One camper who’s been in attendance most years since the field trip’s beginning and one Selah Farm resident who’s been the builder of the bonfire and the driver of the ATV were both otherwise occupied this year and, thus, unable to participate.
Officer Carlos Mendoza and Officer Dorian Miller are now serving with the Waynesville Police Department. Carlos was a camper more years than not, and our son Ian was a host. The two have known each other for years but deepened their friendship throughout their months in BLET (Basic Law Enforcement Training) last year.
It is important to say that both these fine and courageous men are who they are — with a desire to serve their community — largely due to the influence of people like Lin Forney, her daughter Tausha Forney, and others on staff with the PCMDC. This program strives to raise up leaders who love broadly and serve bravely.
What a joy, even in a small way, to be part of this wonderful organization! In a world with so much chaos and hate, discovering kindness, offering hope, are two beautiful fruits, born of a friendship that began nearly two decades ago.
If you would like to know more about the efforts of the PCMDC, check out their Facebook page or online at https://pcmdc.org.