Volcan Mountain Foundation

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San Diego County, California

Celebrating the Memory of Peter Bergstrom

It is with great sadness that we share the passing of Volcan Mountain Foundation founding board member, Peter Bergstrom. Peter passed away peacefully with his family on Christmas Eve.

Scroll down for Celebration of Life registration information and link.

Peter Lodge Bergstrom
September 2, 1946-December 24, 2018

A person of boundless curiosity and joy in exploration, Peter Bergstrom was equally inspired by nature and by his fellow humans. As directors for 40 years of Camp Stevens Episcopal Camp and Conference Center in Julian, CA, he and his wife Vicki created what they called “a peaceful place apart” where people from all over the world could come to appreciate the beauty of the natural world and experience a sense of community with others.

After attending UC Santa Barbara in the late 60’s, Peter joined VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) in Chicago, where he met Vicki when the volunteers were all recalled to the downtown YMCA during rioting in the aftermath of Martin Luther King, Jr’s assassination.  Thrown together in this time of upheaval, they became engaged within six weeks of meeting, and were married on September 2, 1968—Peter’s 22nd birthday.

As a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, he, along with Vicki, did two years of alternative service with the Church of the Brethren Volunteer Service in Germany and in Greece working on projects furthering international relations and youth development. After returning to the US, Peter completed his degree in Anthropology at UCSB in 1972, and while there saw a job posting for a camp executive director position in the small town of Julian.  He and Vicki decided to try it out for “a year or two” and the rest, as they say, is history.

During his time at Camp Stevens, Peter developed a wide variety of programs, from the “adventure group” style of summer camp, to Outdoor Education for school groups, to adult retreats.  Wilderness exploration trips to Baja and the Sierras, international travel for students and adults, and recruitment of staff from many countries added to the richness of the Camp Stevens experience. 

His efforts also expanded the area of the camp, preserving an additional 200 acres of wilderness for future generations of campers. Several new buildings were constructed and older ones modernized, and after the Angel Fire of 2007 which destroyed twelve structures, he gathered support to further rebuild and improve.

Broadening his interest and influence in the world of camping, Peter was a founding member of the Episcopal Camps and Conference Centers Organization, and later served as its Executive Director for nine years until his retirement in 2015. He was also a leader in environmental stewardship within the Episcopal church, and in recognition of his service he was named an Honorary Canon of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Camp Stevens was also designated a Jubilee Center by the Diocese of San Diego, for its “extraordinary transformational efforts” within the community.

Peter was also a dedicated citizen of the town of Julian, serving on the school board anFd helping to organize the Julian Wild & Scenic Film Festival among other community events. Most far-reaching was the founding of the Volcan Mountain Foundation in 1987, which to date has helped to preserve more than 30,000 acres of land as the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve.

In his free time, Peter was always out exploring the world—planning trips overseas with friends and family, fishing and hunting throughout Baja and California, and having adventures with his children, Jenne and Erik. He had a lifelong interest in progressive politics and activism, and worked on many campaigns from local to national, most recently as a founding member of the Julian chapter of the Indivisible movement.

His many friends and colleagues remember his warmth, compassion and generosity, his love of great conversations and good food, his dry sense of humor, and most especially his uninhibited joy in singing and dancing.

Peter died after a long series of illnesses, surrounded by his family, in a beautiful place that he loved. He would have liked to have more time to explore this world, but his favorite thing was always a new adventure, and as Peter Pan said, “to die will be an awfully big adventure”.

Peter Bergstrom is survived by his wife, Vicki Bergstrom, his children Jenne Bergstrom and Erik Bergstrom, his daughter-in-law Erin Pitts, and his brother Kip Bergstrom and sister Robin McCormick.

In lieu of flowers, donations to any of the following organizations would support work that was very close to his heart:

Volcan Mountain Foundation, P.O. Box 1625, Julian, CA 92036 (www.VolcanMt.org)

Camp Stevens, P.O. Box 2320, Julian, CA 92036 (www.CampStevens.org)

James Hubbell’s Ilan-Lael Foundation, P.O. Box 1221, Julian, CA 92036 (www.IlanLaelFoundation.org)

A Celebration of Life will take place on Saturday, April 13 at Camp Stevens. The Celebration of Life service and supper are free. Camp Stevens staff needs interested attendees to pre-register (even if you're not planning on staying overnight) so that they can get a head count for supper.

Please register here: http://campstevens.org/summer/special-events/#specialevents_bergcel

There are several steps to the registration process. If you have any questions about the registation process for the Celebration of Life, please contact Camp Stevens at: 760-765-0028

2-18-19: We received this email update from Camp Stevens addressing questions about registering for Peter's Celebration of Life:

We've heard questions from several of you about registration for Peter Bergstrom's Celebration of Life and want to provide more details to help smooth out the process:

Option 1 - Register online:

Here's the link to the description page for the event.

At the bottom of the description, click register - this will take you to the registration page. Because we are running this weekend like a family camp, it is listed under family camps. Once you've completed your initial profile and log in, you will click on family camps and scroll to the bottom of the page, looking for Peter Bergstrom Celebration of Life. Note that registration for any part of the weekend may have "camper" language - it will ask everyone for a grade - just check N/A.  Also - the medical form helps us know about any special dietary needs. We will have food around for guests, even if they aren't joining for meals, and we want to be prepared.

Option 2 - Call the office (760-765-0028) and we will assist you in registration.

Option 3 - Email us at info@campstevens.org or reply to this email and we will provide guidance or call you back to register you over the phone.

Hope this helps!

With gratitude,

Kathy Wilder

Executive Director 

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