The Legacy of Casa Pacifica

Hear stories from members of the FPU community 

Last week, I covered a story on the loss of our cabin, Casa Pacifica, to the Creek Fire. In the course of my research I encountered many who had stories to share about their experiences there. I had the honor of interviewing a few from the FPU community: senior Kinesiology major and ALAS Peer Mentor DJ Maxwell, Assistant Dean for Student Development Lynn Reinhold and professor emeritus (as well as one of the former owners of Casa Pacifica) Dalton Reimer. 

What retreats or events have you visited Casa for? 

DJ: “I’ve been to retreats since my freshman year. I’ve gone every winter with the track team, intramurals my sophomore year, and with the track team and Res Life my junior year.”

Lynn: “Over the last 14 years, I have taken numerous groups to Casa: student leadership groups, commuter students, peer mentors and cheer team retreats.”

What was significant about Casa to you? 

DJ: “What was significant about Casa to me is that, before going to the retreats, I never ever wanted to go, but when I was leaving after the retreats, I was more than glad that I went.

Lynn: “Casa was a special place, where students could come together without all of the distractions of the world and build deep relationships and friendships that have lasted beyond their time as a student at FPU. Casa provided the perfect environment for team bonding.  Every August the cabin was booked solid by FPU leadership groups and athletic teams who will never forget their time at Casa.”

Dalton: “Places of retreat from the ordinary routines of life are special. To escape the Valley for the cool mountain air, congregations of trees pointing to the heavens above, and the sky populated with an amazing canopy of stars, on a dark night not seen in the Valley below – all lift one’s spirit as one is renewed for continuing life back in the Valley. Universities deserve such a place for their students and staff. There we learn the rhythm of engagement and retreat that makes for a life more fully lived.  Jesus provides a good model, escaping from the press of the villages he served to the mountain, sometimes alone, and sometimes with his small group of disciples. So it is that one is renewed for continuing study, service and life, preserved as a hedge against burnout.”

What’s one special memory or story that you have about Casa?

DJ: “One special memory I have about Casa is seeing snow for the first time, both on the ground and falling from the sky.” 

Lynn: “I have so many favorite memories of Casa. Listening to students share their life stories and how they found their way to FPU. Late night dance parties, preparing and sharing meals together. I could go on and on.” 

Dalton: “Memories shared, even now, of what students and others experienced at Casa Pacifica are special. And memories of beginnings sometimes stand out at endings. What started it all was a vision of several of us on the faculty during the 1970s—a vision of a retreat center that would be Fresno Pacific’s very own and serve the institution in the years ahead. This beginning was unique, in that it began as an exercise in recycling. We won a sealed bid purchasing a mountain cabin that had to be removed. That was the seed that began a rebuilding process on the present site with the salvaged lumber as its core. What emerged was a combination of old and new.” 

Not a single one of these words makes up for the loss of the cabin or the new jeopardy of memories—much less for any of the other tragedies that people are facing as of late. But while the building once known as Casa Pacifica no longer stands, the memories and friendships forged around its walls remain. It is critical, perhaps now more than ever, to grip memories and friendships close, and refuse to let the weight of loss or anguish pull them asunder.   

Author: Kassandra Klein | Copy Editor

Photo by: Lynn Reinhold

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