Puerto Rico’s Camp David Crozier, now defunct, was a main training site for early Peace Corps volunteers who went to posts in various parts of the world: Peru, Ethiopia, Costa Rica, and of course Panama. Later on, they shifted training to the country to which you were assigned. I’ve written about Camp Crozier, and so my blog turns up if someone does a word search. Not all of you read the Comments section, but I’ve just had an inquiry from a woman who runs a website dedicated to returned PCV’s who write. She was at Camp Crozier a few years before I was, on her way to Africa. She did a Google search, and found me.
Of course I responded, although we haven’t connected yet. Having shared Camp Crozier, albeit not at the same time, creates a bond.
Reaching the age of 73 means I’ve had lots of experiences, and they fall into more or less dominant places in the hierarchy of memory. The entire Peace Corps experience from beginning to end was two years of service plus three months upfront training. I shared a rustic cabin filled with other young single female volunteers at Camp Crozier. All of us who survived the rigorous selection — or de-selection — headed to Panama. Twenty seven months isn’t a long in time. I’ve been a parent for much longer, a sister since I was born, a wife for 32 years. But the Peace Corps experience is a huge part of my life, especially with the return to Panama and my re-engagement with Minga and her family, Gloria and her family, that began ten years ago.
By simply using the words “Camp Crozier”, the woman who contacted me guaranteed a response.
The Panama experience at the time of my Peace Corps service was embedded in memory simply because it was so hard. The experience of the last ten years, when I returned, is embedded in memory because it has been so richly human.
I’m lucky indeed to be a Camp Crozier alum.