The night was strangely warm for late October. Gusts of wind shook the last remaining leaves from the skeletal trees. The whole atmosphere seemed unsettled and unpredictable. Out of the darkness, the MiddCORE house glowed like a jack-o’-lantern, and flames danced in the old fireplace. You could not have asked for a better night or a better place for Halloween stories.
We all gathered in the living room, forming a semicircle around the fireplace. It was a varied group of MiddCORE students: we had representatives from the MiddCORE programs at Sierra Nevada, Monterey and the one right here on campus. But regardless of where or when we had taken MiddCORE, we were united by the experiences and the values MiddCORE fosters. And tonight, we had all come back together to share cider, s’mores and spooky stories.
This event highlights one of the things I love most about MiddCORE: long after the intensive four-week program is over, you remain part of an active community of fun, engaged people – they are your MiddCORE family. Whether it’s getting together for stories on a dark October night or meeting up in the dining hall for lunch or attending a MiddCORE-sponsored workshop on a Friday afternoon, there are a myriad of ways to stay in touch and stay connected.
On this particular evening, master storyteller and MiddCORE team member Mike Kiernan was in prime form, regaling us with tales of creepy next-door neighbors and the inevitable takeover of the world by supergerms. Katie McFarren, an alumna of MiddCORE Monterey, likewise captivated us with a tale of strangers, dreamcatchers and hot springs in the canyons of Nevada. Elyse Barnard (MiddCORE Sierra Nevada) added in her own tales of treks through the frozen wilderness and close calls with fire.
As we laughed with glee and shivered with fear, I felt so lucky to have found this community of people. Yes, MiddCORE has given me skills as a leader, a networker, a communicator, and an innovator. But it’s also given me a group of friends and mentors who enrich my life and bring pure and simple fun to my days.