Episcopal Camp & Retreat Center
“Our Favorite Place on Earth”
The Story of Five Generations of the Erschell/Vogel Family
at The Cathedral Domain
For many, the Cathedral Domain is not just a camp or a place to go for a few days and hike the trails. It’s more than just a mountain with spectacular views and fresh air. It’s more than a church. For many, like the Vogel family, it’s one of the enduring bonds of an entire family. For the Vogels, the Cathedral Domain has, and continues to be, intertwined with their family; five generations have experienced the love and joy of the Domain.
To tell the story of the Vogels and their relationship to the Domain, we begin with young Joshua, the two year old son of Justin. Although he is not old enough for Mini Camp, Joshua frequently visits the mountain with his parents, grandparents, and great grandparents. He comes during Trinity Church weekends and spends time with the entire congregation of that church. He rides up with his father during other events throughout the year, and comes with his grandfather, Chris, during work weekends, and apprentices under him so that one day he, too, may experience the joy of fixing leaky old pipes and patching weathered roofs. By the time he is ready for Mini Camp, he will be able to help lead the hikes, explain the rules to the “new kids”, and will finally have the important task of ringing the bell for dinner.
Joshua will follow in the footsteps of his father, Justin, who began visiting the Domain before he could walk. Justin, and his sisters Abbey and Brittney, attended the Cathedral Domain Camps when they were first able to do so, until they graduated from high school. Throughout those years, they learned from great role models, who helped them become the just, honest, God-loving people that they are today. Each of them have taken the love and lessons learned at the Domain and spread them to others that they have touched throughout their lives.
Justin writes, “as a little boy, a teen, and a young adult, I have had countless life experiences at the Domain that have changed the direction of my life. The weeks I spent growing up at Boys Camp taught me more than how to play foursquare and fight dragons in Bat Cave. Those weeks taught me about chivalry, how to follow rules, and gave me self-confidence as a young child in making new friends and finding new role models in counselors and staff at the Domain. These skills would help more than I realized through elementary and middle school.”
Justin, along with his sister Abbey and Brittney, went on to work at the Domain as summer staff during the summer camp sessions. What they learned from their former staff and counselors is now passed on to current campers. The cycle continues today as Abbey still serves as a summer staffer.
Justin remarks, ”in high school and college, I counseled hundreds of kids and served and mentored new counselors, working hard to make the experience I had as a kid a reality for many. I learned the importance and value of helping others. The changes I was able to make in the lives of young children certainly impacted things like my college major and choice of career. The long days put in the sun on the tractor, lifeguarding, grilling burgers, or mopping floors, all contributed to the work ethic and life skills that allowed me to get a college degree, start a successful career and a young family of my own.”
Joshua’s grandparents, Chris and Kim, are also very involved with the Domain. Chris spearheads the workgroup that sneaks up on weekends and, along with Andy and Cindy, keeps the place running for all of us to enjoy.
Joshua’s grandmother, Kim, was also a camper as a child and young adult. She writes, “as a second generation Domain camper, the Domain means love and family to me. My parents introduced me to the Domain at a very early age and we continue that tradition every August. I have such vivid memories of Miss Beulah and Mr. Bill Smith as they taught us about God’s love and the many stories (real or nonsense) of the Domain folklore. I loved the idea of going to the Domain and making new friends and sharing the same love for God as they had.”
Kim also continues to be very involved today. “I have been fortunate enough to be the Dean of several different camps (Reading Camp and Girls 1) that allowed me to help shape the lives of children. My husband spent several years as Dean of Sr. Conference helping to shape the lives of young adults as well. My children have been counselors and Deans, as well as summer staffers… always willing to give back to the Domain what the Domain gave to them,” says Kim.
Joshua’s great grandfather, Peter Erschell, started going to the Cathedral Domain in the late 1940’s. Kim writes that “my father was a camper and a counselor and is still coming every summer with our parish weekend. I remember stories of how as a young camper he helped put in the old stairs to the pool. I loved listening to the camp stories he would tell and then I would later on hear myself as a camper.”
Also, both of Joshua’s great, great grandparents were very active in the progression of the Domain. Their work so many years ago help make it what we know and love today. Great, great grandfather Erschell was very active in work weekends, and great, great grandmother Erschell was often a participant of many of the women’s retreats.
The Cathedral Domain continues to be a very powerful force in the lives of the Vogel Family. In 2013, Justin married his wife Elena in the Cathedral on the mountain. Their lives as individuals and as a family will forever continue to be blessed by the love of God that all five generations have felt, and will continue to feel, at the Cathedral Domain. “It’s easy to see why the Domain means what it does to me. It’s been a factor in shaping my entire family in a positive manner, inspiring me to give back to the community, on and off the mountain. Whenever I think of the Domain, I think of God’s love, kindness, generosity and so many other positive feelings and my hope is, you will as well,” says Kim.
The Cathedral Domain means so much to so many generations, and continues to impact families such as the Vogels. Won’t you join us in helping to continue reaching future generations by making a donation today?