To call the wailing siren that sounds throughout the day at Echo Ranch Bible camp a dinner bell is to romanticize a very unnecessary disturbance to a tranquil wilderness setting. While returning to Echo Cove after a wonderful afternoon spent paddling in Berners Bay, my wife and I were startled at what must have been the dinner call for campers on Sunday evening.
Once we realized that there wasn't a high-speed pursuit along the gravel end of the road, but rather an over-enthusiastic call for meal time, we sat in our boats and recalled all the times our sanctuary had been disturbed by the siren. The first time was early in the morning while staying at the Kowee Meadow cabin at Point Bridget State Park. "What the hell is that?" we thought, rolling over in our sleeping bags. "Maybe it's the Coast Guard?"
Surely other people have found the siren disturbing in their outdoor activities. I recall another evening late last summer at the Blue Mussel Cabin. Sitting around a small fire we could hear the exhalations of orcas surfacing a quarter-mile offshore, the song of eagles in the lichen-draped spruce up and down the rocky shore and of course the soft whisper of the tide rising up the beach. These subtle sounds are what we seek out when hiking to a remote cabin or climbing a distant mountain and the experiencing of the peace associated with these so often unheard sounds is lost in the wake of a siren sounding at dusk.
Echo Ranch Bible Camp has its purpose posted on its Web site. It reads, "ERBC exists to provide a fun, safe, peaceful environment of camping excellence where people have the opportunity to meet God." Isn't this "peaceful environment" significantly less peaceful when the silence is shattered by the siren? I understand that the camp is located on private lands and that this allows a certain degree of freedom (like driving tractors and trucks along the beach at low tide), however, it would seem there could be a less intrusive way to call camp participants to meals and meetings. Juneau's developed areas are loud enough as is. Can something be done to keep Bridget Point, Echo Cove and Berners Bay free from the spillover of noise pollution?