Before we meet up with Parham in Jackson, we are planning to check out a community in Mississippi Called Camp Sister Sprit. One of our goals on the journey is to check out come intentional communities along the way, and volunteer to help out in exchange for a place to rest. We have both been very curious about ic living and are hoping to learn a thing or two about them as we visit. So we found and contacted a few places in the south on the ic.org site. Camp Sister Sprit wrote us back and said we were welcome to come by! CSS is in Ovette, MS which is really off the beaten path, but more or less on the way from Biloxi to Jackson. And we can handle the less beaten paths in our beast, we hope at least.
Years after being formed as a Lesbian Separatist community, Camp Sister Spirit Folk School is now described to be a nonprofit charitable organization whose mission is to eradicate division and misconceptions through building understanding, developing acceptance and teaching tolerance via social, academic and spiritual education of the individual, community fellowship and workshops. They offer use of their 120 acres in the heart of the Pinebelt of Southeast Mississippi for various gatherings. The camp has been used or rented for Gulf Coast Womyn’s Festival, SpiritFest, Women Writer’s Weekend, Yoga Weekend, Drumming Circle, Plays & Concerts, Getaways, Board Retreats, Commitment Ceremonies, Hand Fastings, AA/NA retreats, Religious and Spiritual Gatherings, Birthday/Anniversary Parties, Circle Celebration, Sister Camp, and more.
CSS has received some hostility from the surrounding community in the past because of their openness as a community for gay and lesbians. The views of CSS don’t quite fit in with some of those upheld by many in the deep south, but since the camp has been involved greatly in helping out Hurricane Katrina survivors and their on-going efforts in the community, many have become more accepting.
It seemed to be more camp than intentional community since there weren’t too many people living there during our visit. Andy, who runs the camp, was away, but Josh and his family were there taking care as well as a few other visitors. Josh greeted us after we arrived and set us up in one of the cabins. There are people who have built these cabins to live in when they visit for events and the camp will rent them for a suggested donation when they are vacant. Our particular cabin was decorated with Wiccan murals and some various quotes.
We settled in and made our way to the building that houses the kitchen and dining hall. We found a library with books ranging from fiction to health and social issues, with sections devoted to books especially regarding women. There are also plenty of games, videos and other activities to keep you busy during your stay. We walked around the grounds with some new friends who were also visiting to see the areas where they would have concerts or plays and checked out some other paths and even saw the cabin … that was sturdily made out of cardboard!!
When we returned, we sat around a fire while dinner was being prepared. We talked to Josh about the camp, meditation, psych-trance and many other things. Huey, a gentleman who would come to help out from time to time, came with his family to join us all for dinner. The kind folks were very nice to make lots of yummy, vegan things for us to eat. We had pasta with vegan meatballs, potatoes, and great iced tea. Afterward, we knock out all the dishes and were planning to check out the bonfire that Josh had been excited about all day but we were informed that the wood was too wet and would not start a fire. So we retired to our cabin for the night.
Here’s where begin another kind of adventure. It was after midnight , and feeling a little tired, we pull down the comforter and the sheet underneath. There we discover a bit of a hefty wet mark. Could it be a leak from the roof? We investigate closer, pull the fitted sheet off to reveal a padded sheet, and there lies a bigger spot, and now it’s starting to smell like urine quite a bit. We remove the pad to reveal the mattress that had more stains on it. So, laughingly, it seems like we need to come up with a plan in order to get some sleep that night. We walk down to find Josh to see if we can move into another cabin, but by this time everyone is in bed. So we went back to the truck to get our sleeping bags out of the storage bag on the roof. Opening up the bag on top of the truck, we find that it is filled with water!! There were some heavy downpours earlier, and some of the rain must have snuck in! Luckily, almost everything up there is either in a plastic container or a trash bag to provide double protection. It turned out that only one of our three sleeping bags got wet along with the tent and some folding chairs. So we grabbed the dry sleeping bags and some sheets and a tarp. We flip the wet mattress and throw the tarp down then the sleeping bags and then our sheets. We light some incense and we hit the sac. I love it when a plan comes together!
Visit Camp Sister Spirit on the web at: www.campsisterspirit.com
Enjoy some more photos of our visit to CSS here and on our Flickr page!!!