Bursting with enthusiasm upon our return from Spain in 2013, Christine and I were passionate to spread the message of the Camino in Kansas City. We founded the local group that would formally become the Kansas City Chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino (KCAPOC). As time and other responsibilities redirected our focus we withdrew from active participation in the group.

Fast forward to March and we received an invitation for Britton and me to be recognized for our coming hike across Spain and to participate in the KCAPOC monthly Pilgrim’s Hike.

On March 9th we joined members of the group for a Pilgrim’s Blessing and Shell Ceremony. Along with 13 other “pilgrims” who would be walking at various times this year to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, we received scallop shells, a group blessing, and the good wishes of the larger membership. This shell is the symbol of a pilgrim on the Camino.

Britton and I are joined by Doctor Doug for the group recital of the Pilgrim’s Blessing.
Britton receives his Camino scallop shell, the symbol of a Pilgrim on the Camino, from Maggie.
Britton and I stand recognized along with 13 other Pilgrims who will be walking the Camino at various times this year.

KCAPOC has grown! There are now more than 200 active members, nearly 40 of which assembled on the cold Saturday morning for the hike in the woods of Overland Park, Kansas.

Nearly 40 Kansas City area pilgrims gather for a blessing, shell ceremony, and hike in Johnson County Kansas.

Christine and I are joined in reunion by dear friends Maggie and her husband, Dr Doug. We first met Maggie on the Camino in 2013.

This was grandson Britton’s first experience being embraced by the kinship of Camino Pilgrimage. It is just the beginning.

Peace Everyone! Pete


12 thoughts on “The Shell Ceremony and Pilgrim’s Hike

  1. Karen Hubble says:

    Hi Peter,
    We’ve been reading your letters for quite some time. We too have a very active Camino chapter here in the Bay Area. Monthly walks on trails throughout this beautiful area. Yesterday’s hike was on Mt. Tamalpais into Muir Woods. Some 30+ Peregrinos —many who have walked the various routes in Spain, England, Italy, France—you name it. Next Saturday is our Shell Ceremony which includes a pot luck lunch in the parish hall of St. Augustine’s church in Oakland. It’s probably attended by 80 Camino fans. For those heading out for their pilgrimage, receiving the blessing and loving endorsement is such a marvelous experience. My husband and I head for our second Camino—this one the big kahuna—Frances in October. So glad to hear of your good health and looking forward to reading of your adventure with Britton. Buen Camino!

    • Karen, how wonderful to hear from you! Thank you for reaching out and giving some background on your own very successful Camino Group. Thank you for also “following” me! I am really excited for you on your coming “big” Camino. Please include me on any reports and of course, Buen Camino!!

  2. I always love a Shell Ceremony!! I get so emotional when folks – even those I don’t know are about to embark on what I hope will be a journey of a lifetime. As we all know – it isn’t the length of time, the distance but the ability of seeing folks from all walks of life – moving (yes sometimes in a conga line) in the same direction under the “umbrella” of faith, hope and love. Buen Camino to your both!!

    • I understand, you understand, and so many that have walked the Camino understand. Yet I hope and yet I am a little insecure that the experience for Britton will measure up. Thanks Liz.

  3. Hi Peter, so happy for you walking with your granson soon, after your recovery. I’ll be leaving on March 20, walking the Camino with my two grandchildren, Tai of 13, and Aila of 11. I took them last early November walking from Canterbury to Daver, the beginning of the Via Francigena, for 31 km. They liked il. So, we will do a longer one that they can get a Compostela as a motivation. I will follow your and Britton journey with intense interest. Take care and Buen Camino.

    • Kim, it’s wonderful to hear from you! How great that you’ve already had the experience of sharing this with your grandchildren. I would love to see updates on your future journeys with them! Buen Camino my friend.

  4. Margaretha Finefrock says:

    Ahhhh, your Camino has begun. And look at this full circle moment from your dedication and Christine’s founding this group to now and all the experiences of 11 years. May your every step be blessed and joyful for you and Britton and family and all that follow you. 💕🙏🏽🥾💜

  5. Nancy Antonette Wallingford says:

    Pete, I was very glad to receive your latest posts. I think that you and your grandson will have a marvelous time on the Camino. And what a great group to gather in Kansas City to share your Camino experiences. Thank you, Pete and Christine, for sharing these marvelous experiences with all of us. Nancy Wallingford

  6. Julie Baliva says:

    Pete, this was a wonderful experience for everyone, especially Britton. He is a handsome young man. Looks like he will be taller than you before long. Looking forward to following you on the walk.

    • Hi Julie. Britain has occasionally referred to himself as a “Mini Me”, with regards to me. I think that the roles will reverse in the year to come as he continues to achieve his full height. I am really honored that he thinks enough of our relationship to undertake this “adventure” with me.

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