CHOSS • 1999-2000

Timeline posts are a chance for me to get my life in order.  Literally.

1976-1978 • Belton

1978-1980 • Schonaich

1980-1985 • Fort Knox

1985-1989 • Erlangen

1989-1995 • Belton

1995-1999 • Texas A&M

summer of 1998 • Merri-Mac

Camp Highland Outdoor Science School at Highland Springs Resort

internship, September 1999 – May 2000

CHOSS press

As the Fall semester of my senior year at A&M started, I found myself boarding a plane headed for Ontario, California. I had accepted an internship at a camp/school in the hills of SoCal. I had no idea what to expect but figured California was a fabulous place to spend four months. If it was terrible, I’d be home by Christmas.

The camp was housed on the grounds of a Korean evangelical retreat center and resort. Often, we would be packing up for a weekend in Joshua Tree while serenaded by an a cappella version of Our God is an Awesome God with an Oriental flair. There were horses, ostriches (known to escape), cows across the fence, and an aviary that contained mostly chickens and doves.  CHOSS was simply a renter and keeper of the grounds during the week until retreat guests showed up Friday nights.

We staff lived in Smurf Huts… little cottages from the 50s (?) with shower heads at about 4ft high. My hand to heaven, there is still a 5-foot long centipede hiding in the walls of my cabin shower.  My dislike for showering may, in fact, be traced back to here.

I got poison ivy in my blood the second week of training and spent the next month on steroids and looking like death. No matter. Our weekends were spent camping and climbing and hiking in Joshua Tree… or in Sequoia National Park with foot-long inchworms… or anywhere in between.

Note: if you’re going to go to Vegas on Halloween, go as a pregnant bride. We were serenaded at every hotel. I was just the family doctor along for the ride in case the vampire Elvis baby came early, but no one ever questioned us. I don’t think the city even realized it was Halloween.

I was the designated driver to and from a PHISH concert, I bought my first pair of Chacos (still in service), I was introduced to the beauty of Trader Joes.  I went on my first mountain biking experience, I learned to compost, and I experienced my first earthquake and Santa Ana wind destruction.

In between weekends, we taught. We all taught. Science and archery and ropes and environmental classes to California’s 5th and 6th graders. I taught rich kids from Beverly Hills (imagine my surprise when Elliot’s mom showed up at my cabin late Friday night early to pick up Gabby for a gymnastics meet the next day) and tough kids from Erin Brockovich’s Hinkley . I held snakes and identified yucca and counted tree rings and preached water conservation.


I returned to CHOSS for their spring semester, even after graduating, because I missed my friends- vegetarian though they be. Living with AT hopefuls and river guides and medical school dropouts taught me more about educating children and friendship and tofu than I could have ever imagined. I am so very grateful to still call so many of them dear friends, however far away.

In May of 2000, I accepted a job- a salaried job including benefits– with Young Life’s Oakbridge in Ramona, California.  It would require me to leave CHOSS a couple weeks before the end of the school year, which automatically enrolled me in the Farewell Hazing Seminar. My hut was barricaded shut by ninjas with my own furniture, I was ambushed at dinner with a traditional banana cream pie, and I was ungraciously thrown in the pool without my bathing costume. I am so very glad I was not on the receiving end of the chicken in the car or the canoe in the bathroom.

I do so very much miss you all*. 

*Except for Rusty.

Are you allergic to poison ivy?


About texasnorth

TexasNorth is a little farm in Western Michigan. It's home to 5 chickens, 25 longhorn cattle, a coonhound (Banjo), 1 barn cat, a husband, and 3 ridiculously funny children. The mom of this zoo has been known to mow the lawn in a skirt and roast marshmallows after dark. View all posts by texasnorth

4 responses to “CHOSS • 1999-2000

  • Vaughan

    Great post, Sebeck. I believe I recognize the legs of the gentleman who graciously threw you in the pool. Luckily his tree cookie is turned away to protect his identity. Good times… I miss that crew, too.

  • Skogs

    a) putting up the picture of me with my flowing hair is just mean spirited…
    b) you did not “get” poison ivy… you RUBBED in on you to show off how you don’t get it…
    c) we miss the h–l out of you… Move East Young Lady, Move East!

    • texasnorth

      True, true. But here’s the thing: I had never, ever in all my youth of camping in the wild of Kentucky, EVER gotten poison ivy until we took down those shelters in the woods. Secret, scary poison ivy they have out there, I tell you.

      And, for the record, I do miss Rusty. I do.

  • Tif

    Oh my goodness…. I knew you and I had lots in common!!!! I am from So.Cal. This is/was my life from a very small age. Although I was at Forest Home (a camp in Big Bear area)…. Not CHOSS. But I know of the centipedes you speak of, and what all fun you had…. And let’s just say, today, your post made me smile. Especially the bit about VEGAS….where everyday is Halloween.

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