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My truck is packed – all full of the regular accoutrements one requires to holiday: air hammer, die grinder, chisels, diamond pads, angle grinder, air hose and extension cords, plinths to carve upon, a tent to sleep in, beer cooler for important storage and a guitar for random entertainment needs.


This is the annual trip to Camp Brotherhood Symposium 2008 near Mt Vernon, Washington where over seventy people from ages 21 to 81 gathered to carve stone for eight days without another care in the world. With no meals to think of cooking, no regular vocational responsibilities and no tedious domestic safety, Camp B is a place where you can absolutely be at home without being at home. There is clarity in the generosity of spirit that seemingly everyone who attends Camp B is imbued with. Inclusiveness is paramount, and sharing one’s knowledge is both rewarding and inspiring. So, if you want to feel illuminated by diverse spirit, to find yourself immersed in art, human wholeness, and general miscreant fun, then you really should find yourself at Camp-B next year.


The camp itself is a bucolic farmland with morning and evening light that makes one wish to paint. It offers undulating landscape replete with cows, rabbits, a donkey, a few sheep and several Jurassic Emus beating out a sonic percussion that resonates throughout the property. Tall, straight trees, bountiful gardens, moonlight nights and Paul, the caretaker of the farm, who shows nothing but welcoming kindness.


I know I'm sounding pretty positive here, but really it is like some kind of undeserving dream. I know of nowhere else like this.


This year the formidable Alexandra Morosco, who put together our cadre of instructors, invited architect Bob Leverich and stonemason Shannon Wean to design "A Hearth Effect." Under their guidance, we built a beautiful fire circle for which the granite was cheerfully donated by Marenakos Rock Center. We basked in the warm glow of the fire every night of Camp. For years to come it will be a place to commune in the evening for us folks from NWSSA as well as the many diverse groups that attend this facility throughout the year.


NWSSA is a volunteer run organization and, I believe, something worth protecting. It was started about 20 years ago as a means to have conversations about stone, to compare processes, to find friendship, but moreover to teach art through sharing. And this is the crux. If you have, or if you think you may have a passion for stone, you are welcome at any level and at any age to come see, learn and above all to participate in carving stone.


As with most volunteer organizations, NWSSA must engage in fund-raising, which allows us to promote valuable education within the association. One of the most enjoyable ways I can think of to raise funds is to have an auction where people donate quality items and other people bid on these items. Where else can you get a $10.00 T-Shirt for $60.00 and feel good about it? On Wednesday night, aglow with laughter and wine, everyone who had fallen in love with the feisty and prodigiously talented, featured guest artist, Nora Valdez, showered her with gifts that I'm sure she will take with her on her travels as she carves monumental sculptures around the globe. People were unabashedly generous in raising well over $4000. It made me so very proud to be a part of that generosity.

I'm home now, giddy with inspiration. My tools are unpacked and I have a couple of fresh rocks to carve from the ubiquitous traveler, Canadian stone seeker,

Randy Zieber of Neolithic Stone. And I have some new tools from Scott, Kentaro and Alex of the fabulous Marenakos Rock Center. NWSSA and Camp B have given me a sense of being able to accomplish anything through hard work and a diligent focus. I must confess to each and every one of you that you have found a place in my heart. In particular, this year’s outgoing director, Arliss Newcomb, has once again suffused Camp B with her unfailing warmth and considerably benevolent hospitality. Happy ‘retirement’ Arliss!


To quote the wisdom of Tracy Powell after attending his first Symposium 16 years ago, "I have found my tribe."


I raise a toast to memories of 2008 and look forward to July 2009 where, I’m certain, we will successfully meet again. Rock on!!