For Lisa Morrish, camp is not a CCS credit, a church event, or a summer retreat. It’s home.
For the past twelve years, the sophomore and her family have lived at Palomar Christian Conference Center, a year-round campground in Palomar Mountain, Calif., a rugged mountain a long, winding hour from the nearest town. In her unassuming way, Morrish simply calls it “the mountain.”
“It’s kind of your own little world,” Morrish says. “You live there. You work there. You eat there. Everything’s in this camp. And it’s on top of a mountain.”
As a staff member and lifelong equestrian, Morrish’s summer consists of nine weeks of weeklong horse camps for girls aged 10-18. “We teach them how to ride and how to vault, which is gymnastics on the horse,” she says. “We teach them what you need to know about taking care of horses.”
As at many other camps, staff members at PCCC give each other nicknames. “The girls have to figure out our real names,” Morrish says, “So we call each other our camp names all the time. When we go into town, everyone’s like, ‘What?'”
The curious campers usually ask for the story behind Morrish’s nickname, Pockets.
“I tell the girls, ‘I’m a pickpocket.’ They laugh, and I just stare at them. They say, ‘Are you serious?'”
She smiles. “I’m not really a pickpocket.”
Being at camp year-round may sound a little like a s’mores-and-kumbaya-filled heaven, but living on the mountain has its drawbacks. Town is over an hour away, although twenty minutes from the mountain, “there’s a general camp store and gift shop, a vegetarian restaurant, a post office, and the observatory,” where the Hale Telescope resides, Morrish says.
The secluded mountaintop retreat has little to offer socially. Her sophomore year of high school, Morrish chose to be homeschooled after tiring of the daily twenty-minute drive to her small charter school. This summer, she also decided to drive down the mountain to church, instead of going to her parents’ congregation, which “meets in the observatory recreation hall. As of now, it’s about five people big.”
“We don’t socialize with other people on the mountain other than camp staff,” Morrish says. “I didn’t quite like being in the little world. I couldn’t wait to get off.”
Coming to Corban’s hilltop campus was not the change Morrish expected.
“I feel like we’re in our own little world here, too, just instead of fifty people, it’s a thousand,” she says.
Still, Morrish enjoys Corban’s quick access to Salem – and Dutch Bros.
“It’s nice to go get a coffee and not have to worry about being gone two hours,” she says, smiling.
A day in the life of Lisa Morrish