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You Can Help Create A.R.E. Camp Magic

A.R.E. Camp Manager, Malenka Luckett, recently sat down with Duke and asked him to share a little bit about his journey with A.R.E. Camp. Here’s what he had to say:

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On the urging of a friend in Vermont, where we were both living at the time, I attended the annual A.R.E. New Year’s Conference and had two significant encounters. One was a “mystical” experience during the midnight meditation with 100 people. The other was attending the A.R.E. Camp meeting and potluck and feeling suddenly quite at home.

The Camp meeting had such an impact on me that it encouraged my subsequent move to Virginia Beach, where I made more connections with many folks involved with the Camp. I first went to the Camp Valley for a wedding in the spring of 1979, and I have been to at least five more weddings at Camp since then!

I first worked at Camp that summer sharing cabins with young men and modeling a lifestyle filled with music and singing (at least twice every day), physical activity (hiking, soccer, volleyball), creativity through arts and crafts, and meditation and quiet times attuned to the sounds and sights of nature—all while working with others in the realm of community and service. At the end of the summer, I felt enlivened and invigorated.

I came to realize that the reason I felt so joyful and peacefully at home at A.R.E. Camp was because it fosters a schedule centered around living one’s own ideal.

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The idea of working with and through an ideal sprouted in me from working with the Cayce material. I feel like I had ideals before knowing them through the Cayce work, but learning more showed me the importance of what that means. I also learned how you can work with ideals and be aware of them, so that you can use them better and get more in tune with them. When I went to Camp, it all just clicked.

Throughout the years, I’ve had many memorable experiences and have continued to learn about myself through my interaction with the community.

I have also had the joy to watch my daughter, Emma (she’ll be 24 this summer!), grow up at Camp. I first brought her when she was one month old. She has grown up going to Camp—playing in the creek, singing at the talent shows—and has grown into working by my side as a Camp staff person during summers when I have worked as the Camp Director.

More often than not, I spend my birthday at A.R.E. Camp. The year that I turned 64, I had The Beatles song, “When I’m 64” in my head all day. Late afternoon at free time, I got out a songbook with the lyrics to the song, got my guitar, and started singing and playing the tune on the porch of the director’s cabin, which looks out to the Blue Ridge Mountains and sits against the valley’s forest. Part way through, I looked over to the side of the porch and there was a deer next to the porch steps watching me as I sang. It’s those little moments of peace and oneness with nature that really define A.R.E. Camp to me.

For Duke, we are truly thankful. He provides strength and guidance and love and joy. He is a fearless (and compassionate!) snake catcher, musical troubadour, and one of the humblest people we’ve ever met. He approaches each fresh day at Camp with a lightness and ease that everyone have grown to admire over the years, and he has never failed to make us and so many others laugh with his truly unique brand of comedy that can only be described as his essential “Duke-ness.”

Thanks to each of you who supports A.R.E. Camp in your own way—with your prayers, attendance, or financial support. We truly appreciate you.

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