The past few weeks, members of the Camino for Good community have started painting small rocks with a yellow arrow and placing them on their favorite trails – a little ode to the Camino Spirit. This fun idea came from Jeanne Chesko in Sacramento, CA, USA.

Hi! I’m Jeanne Chesko, and I live in Sacramento, California. I wanted to share my experiences with Camino for Good, and my own virtual Camino.

Like so many people, I knew nothing about the Camino until I saw “The Way” with Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez. Long story short, at the beginning of the pandemic shelter in place, I found a Virtual Camino Challenge, and  I went all in.

Jeanne and her husband Tom on a hike together.

I did my walking, and also started watching YouTube videos of other’s journeys, and I learned all I could about the Camino. I got my medal last summer, and did a couple shorter challenges, but my heart was still on the Camino! Disappointingly, the online group associated with this company seemed more interested in getting as many medals as they could than in the sacredness and the beauty of the walk, so I was just going to do it myself. I bought myself a tour guide and was ready.

Then Camino For Good found me!

A group of people who love the Camino, and wanted to help the Albergues! I found my tribe!

I love reading about people’s actual Camino adventures, and seeing all the beautiful photos from the Virtual Camino pilgrims. We certainly do live on a beautiful Earth! I also love the pilgrim passport stamps we get, and all the info we get on the app about each stop. I really feel like a pilgrim!

I have learned some great discipline on this journey.

Number One: Walk No Matter the Weather. I used to be a fair weather hiker. Too hot or too cold and it just wasn’t enjoyable. And rain? Forget it. Now when I wake up and it is raining? I’ve got my umbrella handy! 29 degrees F? Jacket, hat and gloves! If real Pilgrims have to walk in all types of weather, then I do too!

Number Two: Walk Every Day. When my husband goes to work at 6am, I go outside. Coffee and the news comes after my Camino, not before. I walk 3-5 miles a day.

Number 3: Create my own Camino. During the week I walk at home, but on the weekends my husband Tom and I find new places to hike and enjoy.

Number Four: Take care of myself. When I injured my ankle, (because I somehow found a way to trip over my own feet) I took the time out to heal. In true virtual fashion, I still pretended I was on the Camino, and took the time to enjoy the village I was in, via YouTube.

Jeanne with her son Ryan and husband Tom enjoying a picnic together.

I had a bit of a challenge when I began my Camino For Good. I was having some heart issues, and I did not want to walk by myself, in case my heart rate went too high. So I walked on our side patio and tiny backyard. Back and forth. To make it less depressing, and truly make it my Camino, I painted yellow arrows on many rocks, and lined my patio and yard with them. I would watch a YouTube video the night before of the places I would be walking through, and would imagine myself there each morning. Somehow, maybe because my real walking was monotonous, my inner journey was bright and alive, and I felt I was truly there.

When I began to feel better, we began to venture out into the real world again. When I got my pack ready for our first big walk, I took one of my Camino rocks and put it in my pack for good luck. Then I thought, “I think I will leave it on the path!” If someone sees it who knows or has been on the Camino, what a treat that would be! And if no one knows about the arrows, well at least they know they are going in the right direction! So I got to the perfect place and did a little ritual, and left it there. I actually got a little thrill from it!

When I got home I posted it on the site, and got really great feedback, including the idea to write “Camino de Santiago” and “Camino For Good” on the back of the rock. Perhaps it will bring more virtual and real pilgrims to the Camino! And no matter where I walk, the path becomes the Camino.

I have received two gifts from doing Camino For Good. One is “talking” with fellow Pilgrims on the path who love the journey as much as I do. Reading about the real Caminos many of you have done makes me hope I can do it for real someday as well. And the other gift? Rioja wine! So good! That’s all we buy now, and I’m from California!

I’m 108 miles from Santiago de Compostela after this morning’s walk. I’m enjoying every mile. I love this journey and all of the wonderful people that put this organization together. Thank you and Buen Camino!

Thank you so much Jeanne for sharing your story, and for being a vibrant, inspiring member of the Camino for Good community!