From time to time, we will be opening up our blog to guest authors to share their Pyles story. If you would like to contribute, please contact us! We'd love to hear from you!
My entire experience as a Camper, Lioneer and Worker has stuck with me my entire life. I served in the Marine Corps and am now own and Operate my own Brazilian Jiu Jitsu school in Katy, Tx.
Here is what I'd like to share about my experience as a camper:
At the end of each camp session there was a Pine Cone Celebration. In the Sequoia National Forest, the pine cones are much larger than regular pine cones, and they burn really bright when tossed into the camp fire. Each boy, if they so choose, can get up and grab a pine cone to toss into the fire and stand before the other boys and tell them about their experience at R. M. Pyles Boys Camp.
As I sat and watched other boys get up and show so much courage, I too wanted to get up. I almost talked myself out of it. I was scared. I could feel all of the emotions welling up inside and I was sure they would spill out if I got up there. I didn’t know that was a sense of “vulnerability” at the time, but I knew it was what I feared most. I wanted to be seen, just not in that way. In contrast, the thing gnawing at me as I sat there was knowing if I did not find the courage in this moment I might not find it at all. I stopped the noise in my head, I shushed the voices telling me to stay put, and I got up.
I can distinctly remember feeling my legs get a bit wobbly. I had to make myself take the steps down to the camp fire. I got to the bin of pine cones, looked in so that I could find the biggest one there was. I thought to myself, if I’m going to do this, I need to burn as bright as I can, in hopes that someone can see me for me. I pulled the pine cone out and held it in my hand, I took one deep breathe and tossed it into the fire. As it caught fire, it burned so bright that it lit up the faces of all the boys in the seats watching me. Before I could get the first word out, my emotions spilled out of me.
I spoke of my counselor “Dodger” and how he did something in a week that hadn’t really been done my whole life. He was able to see me, the hurt and the pain, the anger and the hate. He temporarily filled an empty space reserved for my Dad. I was still a little boy inside endlessly crying. I poured my heart out at that camp fire. As I picked my head up from crying, I could see tears falling from other boys’ eyes. This was the first time I ever thought that someone else was enduring the same thing I was.
After I finished, I walked back up to my seat and “Dodger” stood and gave me a great big hug. I will never forget him even though our paths have gone separate ways."