Regarding Charles Russo's "Camp Clamp Down" (July 16): As a Junior High School teacher who brought her students to Caritas Creek for 15 wonderful years, it was with deep dismay that news of the Caritas firing was received. Thank God that people like Paula Pardini, Erik Oberg and all the others resurrected the vision of what this nourishing camp is all about. Way beyond the science standards, Caritas touches the hearts and souls of the children who experience this spiritually charged week of environmental education. Both teachers and students return to their schools enriched with an education that far exceeds the curriculum of classroom learning. "Caritas"—"God's love"—is what the staff offers, and to live the week with these gifted people is to participate in a glimpse of heaven on earth!
Heart and Soul
I would like to thank you for the article about the Caritas Creek program. I have grown up with this program, went through the entire line of being a Caritas camper, a summer-camp camper, Caritas cabin leader, summer camp CIT, all the way to summer-camp counselor. I was in shock when I learned what had happened in January 2007, and it was time someone heard our side of the story. In fact, it shows how dedicated the staff members truly are to this camp.
Two days after the decision had been made to "terminate" camp, more than 25 staff members from the summer camp were in Daly City having a meeting about what we were going to do if asked back to summer camp. We made a collective decision not to, which is why I feel CYO Summer Camp was a disappointment to many of the campers in the summer of 2007. I went to visit their "new and improved" camp, and they had ridiculous rules and regulations. The staff members could not even hug the campers front to front. It had to be a "side hug" so that no genitals touched. It was tragic. It was, in fact, heartbreaking, and all I wanted to do was give these campers a real hug. So I did.
I have volunteered a couple of days a week out at the new Caritas, and I have to say that these staff members are my personal heroes. The campers I work with have never been happier to be there and have made everlasting bonds with each other.
It just goes to show what we have been telling the campers for so long: Camp is not a place; it is the connection you create with yourself, others, nature and spirit. No one can testify to that more than our staff members.
John Sakowicz ("Boomer Bummer," July 16) implores baby boomers to protect their assets by buying gold or investing in gold-mining companies. What he doesn't tell us is the dark side of gold—the environmental damage that modern gold mining causes. Gold ores these days have very low concentration of gold—gone are the days of finding pure nuggets in stream beds. This means digging, hauling, processing and disposing of perhaps tons of dirt for an ounce of gold. The processing involves toxic chemicals such as cyanide or mercury, which can sicken workers and wildlife, and which remain in the ground long after the gold is gone.
You may think, "What do I care, there are no gold mines near me—out of sight, out of mind." Think again. It takes a lot of fossil fuel, mostly diesel, to move all that dirt around. The carbon dioxide from burning those fossil fuels affects everyone. Even worse—it's hard to say how much worse—deep mining for gold often releases methane trapped in the ground. Methane is 21 times more potent a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.
But that's just for buying gold itself. If you buy gold-mining companies, you're basically feeding the beast that belches the greenhouse gas. I'm not an investment adviser, but I'd hope people would consider investing in clean energy to reduce greenhouse gases or something else a little more benign than gold. If we don't begin to think of the wider impacts of our individual actions, it's going to be a lot harder to stabilize the climate. If you don't think individual choice can make a difference, think about how dramatically gas-guzzler SUV and truck production has dropped in the last year.