By Doug Garatina
On a bright, sunny July day, nineteen RPCV’s and family members gathered together at the Wells Mill County Park for a potluck picnic. This was the second annual South Jersey RPCV-NJ picnic. Wells Mill Park is located in Waretown, Ocean County. Although it is called the South Jersey Picnic, RPCV’s from across the state are welcome (the same is true for our North Jersey Picnic). At this picnic we had people from as far North as Phillipsburg and as far South as Salem County. The Peace Corps service years of the attendees basically spanned the entire existence of the organization from 1962 to the 21st Century. We introduced ourselves to each other by showing and explaining three photos from our Peace Corps experience.
Phil Levy was the gracious and very organized host for this event. He created the event last summer and has grown it in its second year. A retired science teacher, who served in El Salvador in the 1970’s, Phil also volunteers at the Park’s Nature Center where he provides nature hikes to visitors. Several of us joined him on a short nature hike near the end of the picnic. We took a path near the edge of a man-made lake and through a stand of beautiful cedar trees. Phil pointed out a variety of fauna and flora, including two species of carnivorous plants — pitcher plants and sundews. Also a few people rented a canoe for a fun ride on the lake.
In summary, we had a pleasant day sharing our experiences with other RPCV’s and family members as we enjoyed American and ethnic foods. Although it was a hot day, none of us melted. (The fact that most of us had served in tropical countries might have helped.)
Photo: Attendees gather with the new Peace Corps banner at Wells Mill County Park.