By RHEA-FRANCES TETLEY
The 18th annual Apple Fest was held at Thousand Pines Camp to celebrate the beginning of the fall season and the ending of summer. This Apple Fest has developed over the years with over 100 people attending the luncheon this year.
It began 18 years ago when Jacki saw they had so many apples ripening on the trees in the orchard of Thousand Pines and made an apple pie for the office workers. They all loved it so much that each went home with a lot of apples and came back with their own apple creations. This continued and has developed into an entire luncheon for all the staff with apples being incorporated into every recipe.
This Apple Fest had main dishes, including Anita’s famous Apple Meatloaf, Chicken with Apple Curry, Pork Loin with Apple Chutney, Braised Beef Stew with Apples, Apple Curry Country Style Ribs with Apple Chutney, homemade Mac and Cheese with Apples and more, about 15 main dishes in all. Plus, there were desserts, from pies to cupcakes, muffins and apple cakes with honey, to apples with caramel and apple ice cream. Refreshments and drinks were also all apple based. Everything was delicious and enjoyed by the new and old staff, their families and visitors. Many went back for seconds, commenting on the delicious taste of the foods and the surprise at the variety of food offerings, all with apples included.
Camp Manager Steve Garcia told the story of the inseparable connection of apples to the history of Thousand Pines Camp and how this yearly Apple Fest reminds them of the journey the camp has experienced since its beginnings in 1939.
When the camp first began, it had nothing and not much funding, but had a bountiful apple crop that year from previous camps and the CCC workmen who had been housed at that location while building the dam that created Lake Gregory. The Thousand Pines Camp workers began using and selling the apples to help fund the camp in those early years. They were successful enough that the camp began to thrive and has grown over the years.
Now, Thousand Pines hosts over 20,000 visitors each year. They have summer sleep-away camp sessions and week-long winter outdoor science school for students and weekend retreats.
Thousand Pines operates year-round, with a variety of programs, to meet the needs of a varied audience, from children to adults and couples. This Apple Fest banquet was used as an opportunity to celebrate all camp staff, from the managers to the cooks, counselors and office workers, to those staff members who are leaving after the summer sessions, while using the opportunity to welcome the new winter outdoor science school staff. The cooks and other staff members created the varied menu, which was happily enjoyed by all. Camaraderie among all staff was evident.
Thousand Pines Camp was created in 1939 when Arthur Gregory, who had just completed overseeing the building of the dam that created Lake Gregory, donated 10 acres of land to start the camp, which has grown over the decades by adding an additional 110 areas, and now offers locations for community events and hosts other groups such as filming crews, besides their regular camping sessions. The Gregory family descendants continue to stay connected to the camp.
The Apple Fest was held in their traditional dining room, with a patio and a lovely fireplace, plus it has tree views out its picture windows and from its deck. Thousand Pines Camp, which is located at the north end of Thousand Pines Road in Crestline, made the news last winter when it safely evacuated some outdoor science school campers who had become stranded when the roads were closed by the snowfall. The camp cared for them and continued to educate and feed them, until it was safe to bring up some busses, then enabling the students to safely leave only a few days late.
This Apple Fest was enjoyed by all who attended. The decorations included historic apple signs from the days when they sold their apples. The camp highly honors its history and the location’s over 120-year heritage and the camp’s 84-year history. The apple centerpieces on the tables were made from folded and spray-painted books and the napkins were also apple themed. The whole apple experience was all encompassing and done with elegance and led to a fun event.
To learn more about Thousand Pines Camp and the variety of the programs they offer, see their website: https://www.thousandpines.com