Remembering Peter Bergstrom

Peter and Vicki Bergstrom

 I’m Greg,  a London MIndfulness Community Facilitator, currently in New Zealand, looking forward to returning to London, later this year.  

Here I make some personal remembrances about Peter Bergstrom.  Each of us has special life moments. This week in Camp Stevens nestled in the California Mountains, is a celebration of the life of Peter Bergstrom, who has significantly, with his wife Vicki Bergstrom, influenced many, including my life adventure and mindfulness. 

More than 4 decades ago, a 20 yr old me, with almost no money, is in a gap year, hitch-hiking on a highway.  My life, had gone from a conveyor belt of expectations, to here, never sure when the next ride might come.  It had become an  adventure, an exploration – opening me to the possibilities of life.  Standing by a highway, seeking a small dot on the map, the Camp Steven’s Youth Hostel, seemingly more in sync with my background, growing up in a small mountain town in New Zealand, than LA.  Some young Californian’s picked me up in a red convertible, and invited me to join them and a few dozen of their closest friends, at a festival in the desert in Arizona.  After the festival and further adventures they dropped me off, as they returned to San Diego, and again I sought out the small dot, the isolated Camp Steven’s Youth Hostel.

Arriving there, I was welcomed by Peter and Vicki, a young couple, and directors of Camp Stevens.  They fed me, gave me some chores to do for room and board, and soon invited me to join their camp counselor training program.  To be honest, if I had been in their position, I would not have been so generous!   This was no ordinary training program, but one full of heart, communication, listening, group, and trust building.  The Camp was not a leisure center, where youngsters from California, chose their activity, but one in which the community, down to the group, learnt communication skills, building group decisions, and also had a lot of fun!  It also put a significant emphasis on the natural environment.

Peter and Vicki, so young, had great ideas, that were unknown at the time.  How to build communication and healthy thriving communities.  We all shared duties (dishes, cleaning, camp facilitators, guiding campers on wilderness campouts etc) and it was a wondrous and amazing group of young people.   Peter was boundlessly curious, but also grounded in the immediate concrete practicalities.  I am not sure, if my spells in the kitchen were a hit, since I once added a cup of tabasco, to ginger cake mixture, which had David the phlegmatic cook, dug deep into his repertoire for ingredients that would negate the tabasco effect.  Campers noted a certain extra zip, that they had not experienced in a ginger cake before.

Moments of compassion, generosity and curiosity filled the way they interacted.  They treated everyone that way.  After the loss of a New Zealand friend, they encouraged me to complete of a mural, which helped me with my grief.   Peter was able to look into a person, see their possibilities and work together with them.   International connections, trips and projects, including Japan Camp, in which I participated, were part of the Bergstrom’s boundless curiosity and networking.  They even came to New Zealand and Australia and met with my family.  On a recent trip, Peter and I discussed quantum mechanics, on a drive to San Diego.

Peter leaves behind a legacy, of love, boundless curiosity, generosity that makes our world a better place.  It lives on in the many lives, with which he shared himself.  It influenced me deeply.

Obituary for Peter Bergstrom