Sleep away camp, for me, conjures thoughts of forced physical activity, serial killers lurking in the woods, and writing letters to your parents begging them to send you better snacks. So I was excited but a little apprehensive when Anand told us our summer retreat was going to verge on the summer camp experience at Pinecrest Lake, a peaceful spot in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. As the new kid at BBA, was I going to be the killer-in-the-shadows bait?
Our first night at Pinecrest kicked off the weekend with cocktails and a playlist of 90’s rap and R&B; trust falls are so passé – nothing says team-building like a sing-a-long to “I Believe I Can Fly.” Saturday started with a big breakfast (sans bug juice) to fortify for the jam-packed day ahead. First up was our group horseback ride, and we hit the extremely literal dusty trail with our horses – Bullwinkle, Joyce, Bob, Cash, Mork. Our ride took us by some incredible vistas and through a ski area. I was nervous about the ambitions of our trail guides when glimpsing a double black diamond sign as we began our descent back to camp.
Next up was our pleasure cruise. Two party boats, dubbed “Booze Cruise” and “Snooze Cruise” (take your pick) set out on the gorgeous lake, where we suntanned, grilled, jumped off the boat, jumped off rocks, jumped into floaties… basically jumped off anything that was sturdy enough to launch from.
Saturday evening was capped with a dinner at the Steam Donkey Restaurant. We chatted away about upcoming projects, the balance of creativity and critique, our favorite wines… and presented Seth and Bonnie with a surprise, funny books full of silly candid shots that we had been hoarding for an appropriately embarrassing occasion. We continued the party late into the night, playing boisterous rounds of Heads Up and Salad Bowl.
Sunday came all too soon, and after a huge stack of pancakes, we made one last nature stop in the Stanislaus National Forest, for a great view of the Echo Lake Reservoir. I sat on the edge of the cliff, watching the shadows of drifting clouds move across the surface, thinking about how much fun I had with my colleagues, getting to know everyone better and blowing off steam… only to be interrupted with a jolt by the painful sting of a wasp. Time to get back to reality!