What it is
American Pilgrims on the Camino is a US-wide organization that gathers pilgrims together at an annual conference and in local chapters throughout the country to connect around the Camino experience. They also train members to be a hospitalero in Spain. Similar country-specific confraternities exist all over the world, but ours it pretty cool.
Independent streak notwithstanding
I’m not normally a joiner. Politics make me want to crawl out of my skin. However, my entree to this group came from participating in APOC’s Facebook group. At over 12,oo0 members, it’s a vibrant group. When I was in the throes of my Camino blues, I was on that page every day, reading stories, answering questions, and posing some of my own.
I’ve benefited in so many ways from this online connection with other pilgrims. In the back of my mind has been the awareness of receiving all this support, connection, and help—at no cost.
I owe APOC a debt of gratitude
Last December I participated in the APOC Portlandia chapter’s Christmas potluck. There I met friendly people with interesting stories, humor, and soulfulness. It was a fantastic event to which I contributed nothing but a tarta de Santiago.
While preparing for my Camino, I requested two official credencials which APOC sent free of charge. Though they requested a donation for this service, I was not in a position to contribute at the time. Enter small dose of Catholic guilt. 😉
Finally, when the new-born Las Vegas chapter invited me to visit (with the REI connection just one degree of separation), I started to think: I should really join. This would be a good idea.
The cost versus value
If you’ve done the Camino (or are planning to), check out their resources and Facebook group. It’s so refreshing to meet pilgrims from all over the country, united in a love for this life-changing pilgrimage, no matter their political background or walk of life.
The membership fee for one person is $50, which (for me) is not chump change. Now that I’ve joined, I feel so good supporting the work of this organization. It’s one way to give back for the many gifts I’ve already received from them. (And yes, with a windfall tax refund I was able to throw in a few extra bucks for the credencials and postage.)
Catholic guilt? Absolved. 🙂 What a great way to start my next Camino–IN TWO WEEKS! (If you want to read updates, please subscribe!)
Are you an APOC member–or considered it? I’d love to hear about your experience.