Camping at Their Core
The Swope family — Roshan and Eric and their two daughters, Molly and Maya — share a deep appreciation of the natural world. Maybe nothing demonstrates this more than the family’s devotion to their annual camping trips to Spoonwood, a wilderness pond in the heart of the SuperSanctuary. Molly, a 20-year-old rising junior at Smith College, and Maya, a 23-year-old professional who lives in Minneapolis, still look forward to being at Spoonwood together with their parents. After all, it’s a family tradition that has taken place almost every year of their lives.
That said, there was one summer when the family thought Maya wasn’t going to be able to join them. It was her sophomore year in college and she was living in Minnesota, but she was not about to spoil the tradition! Maya recounted a well deployed caper:
“I secretly booked a plane, hiked in to Spoonwood, and then tromped through the woods to their campsite. I got there just before dark and said, ‘Sorry I’m late for dinner!’ I really surprised them—it was wonderful!”
Nature at the Heart
You might say that nature is at the heart of the Swope family. Roshan and Eric met at Stone Environmental Schools in Groton, MA, where they both taught. They moved to the Monadnock Region in 1990 so that Roshan could attend Antioch University New England. The couple got to know the Harris Center when Roshan worked at Wol’s Nest as a counselor and co-leader for the overnight Spoonwood camp program. She now teaches kindergarten at Wells Memorial School in Harrisville. Eric is the industrial pre-treatment coordinator for the city of Keene at its wastewater plant. He makes sure businesses are following environmental regulations, does water quality sampling, and coordinates 4th grade water science fairs and other water-focused activities in local schools.
Maya is following in her parents’ environmental footsteps. A graduate of Macalester College in environmental studies and geography, she works for an environmental organization to protect clean water. Molly is studying engineering at Smith College, and hopes to work as a civil or environmental engineer after graduation.
Both girls attended Wol’s Nest for a few seasons (Maya even became a counselor), and the family has attended several live animal programs at the Harris Center. They also enjoy hiking on Harris Center trails. But for the Swopes, nothing quite compares to the joy of camping at Spoonwood Pond. Roshan said:
“It’s a magical place — like being in another world. It’s rejuvenating, relaxing, and it’s become such a family tradition. It’s one of the things we did right as parents.”
“It’s a utopia. It’s wonderful to count on Spoonwood every year. It’s stress-free and always there for us.”
Camping at Spoonwood is not for the faint of heart, as it’s only accessible by canoe or kayak from Nubanusit Lake. Additionally, the campsites do not have the typical amenities found at many campgrounds, such as plumbing, tent platforms, grills, fire rings, picnic tables, or even reliable cell phone reception. And that’s exactly what is attractive to this family, who appreciates nature’s gifts and the opportunity to enjoy them together. Molly recalled one of her favorite memories:
“We would build fairy houses out at the point, especially when we were little.”
The Swopes ticked off many of their beloved Spoonwood activities: swimming, reading, paddling the loop around Spoonwood, fishing, playing games and cards, picking blueberries, watching eagles and loons, and looking for meteor showers under the night sky, to name a few. They have camped at Spoonwood together every year since 2001, and a few times before then.
The Harris Center works hard to maintain the pristine and remote nature of this special place, protecting it with a policy of no pets, excessive noise, or campfires, and limiting campsite amenities in order to preserve its wildness and beauty. Reservations for a one- or two-night stay at Spoonwood are taken at the Harris Center office as a thank-you to current Harris Center donors at the $75 level or above. Eric said:
“If people don’t experience it, they don’t appreciate it, and aren’t moved to protect it.”
“Part of the magic of Spoonwood is that we went every year and formed a relationship with the point.”
The Harris Center hopes the Swope family tradition will endure and continue to nourish the bonds that were strengthened so naturally in that very place — with nothing but each other and what nature has to offer — for many years to come.
Maya shows off her catch in 1999.
Molly takes a Spoonwood catnap in 2001.
Maya and Molly go fishing in 2005.
Molly, Maya, and Roshan roast marshmallows in 2005.
Molly, Maya, and Roshan at their Spoonwood campsite in 2002.
Eric and Molly bring home dinner in 2008.
For more information on the Harris Center’s 50th anniversary celebrations, please contact Lisa Murray at (603) 525-3394 or by email.