Everything possible

by Mary Bartlett

Elm Tree LawnAs workers slowly lowered 18 young Princeton elms by crane into large holes on once-lush Elm Tree Lawn, several alumnae from Camp Scripps gawked at the process.

“They look bigger than I thought they would,” said one.

“No, they don’t,” said her friend. Each summer for the past 15 years, alumnae return to campus for four days of fun and frolic called Camp Scripps, where the slogan is “Everything possible, nothing required.”

This July, the 110 campers viewed a fi rst: as they walked to workshops and talks between Toll Hall and the Malott Commons, they stopped to watch the replacement of Scripps’ 70-year-old elms with new trees, contract-grown in Sunol, Calif., for the past three years. The College removed the dying trees for safety reasons in May, following Commencement.

“How in the world did they get the trees all the way from Northern California?” a camper asked. I wished then I had followed an earlier desire to drive up I-5 to the Tejon Pass in the early hours of July 1 and take a photo of the trees, laid flat on truck beds and securely tied, traveling down the Grapevine on their way to Claremont. Sleep won out, but I did see the trees arrive on campus at 7 a.m. that day. Still in their 60″ wooden boxes, the trees were unloaded in the Revelle parking lot, where grounds people gave them a thorough soaking. They would be watered twice a day, because of hot weather and the asphalt’s radiant heat, until the following week, when planting began.

Right now, Elm Tree Lawn looks stark — and lawnless. Standing at the door of Revelle House, looking West, the white stucco front of Balch Auditorium, its red tile roofs, and its two thin and towering palm trees are fully visible for the first time in years.

The elms will grow; grass, too. As has Scripps, as have students and alumnae, as have all of us who live or work here. The possibilities are endless.