Editor’s Note: As of today’s date, this Staff Training blog post actually refers to the last couple of weeks. Now we’re deep into the First Term of camp (after Mini Camp). But because we’re so busy at camp letting camp be camp, we don’t move as quickly to get stories like this onto the blog, but squeeze them in when we can. Think of it like camp in the old days, when word traveled slowly, like the relaxing pace of camp itself! (Urgent news is different, and comes directly to families when necessary).
Staff Training, though a vital aspect of our summer at Camp Alleghany, is often a part of the summer we keep to ourselves. It’s not that we don’t want to share — it’s just that typically we’re so busy getting everyone onboarded, all of the material gone through, practice sessions, and some time for fun and friendly bonding, that we just can’t find the time while at camp to punch out a blog post.
This year, though, we were determined to put “write a blog post about Staff Training” on the official to do calendar. And I’m the one who gets to tell you about it! And that’s nice for me because, after a handful of summers away from camp, and thus away from Staff Training, I see it through a different lens. I’d love to share my experience with you!
Back at Camp!
After years of being a camper and then a counselor, I had the opportunity to come back to camp as part of the Administrative Team in the seasonal position of Leadership Program Coordinator.
With this role, I was able to plan some of the staff training sessions, participate in sessions led by Camp Alleghany for Girls Director Elizabeth Shreckhise and Program Director Casey Tucker, and get to know a staff of counselors who were almost entirely unknown to me.
In fact, most of the counselors who I knew prior to this summer, I had only known as campers.
This new dynamic was unfamiliar to me.
Most of the comforts and connections that I previously found at Alleghany, were nowhere to be found. The girls I had been going to camp with for 10+ years are not here, my sister and cousins have different jobs, and even the Old Johns (one of my favorite spots in camp) are now closed!
I decided to make a conscious effort to find new connections, lean into old traditions, and use my ‘Ghany experience to comfort and connect our Staff in the way I would want if I was entirely new to a place.
With Staff Training coming to a close, I want to share with you where I saw the most connections blossom and where I found comfort.
“Come on you Old Girls, Join with us New Girls”
Ask any of the counselors — I’m constantly joking about being “old.” Whether it was three days after Crab Soccer and I was still sore from playing two vigorous rounds and I was bemoaning my aching bones. Or when I realized my (then) 9-year-old campers will be Upstarts (15s) this summer. I feel (and sometimes act) old.
The beauty of being “old” at camp is getting to live through new campers’ or counselors’ eyes and experiences.
This Staff Training I was able to teach our traditions, songs, and ‘Ghany ways to a group of enthusiastic and extraordinary Non-Camper-Counselor-Club members (NCCCs). I also shared my experiences and many things in common with returning counselors. Teaching some of my favorite songs (“Each Summer” and ‘Ghany’s version of “Baby Shark”) and seeing the smiles — or looks of shock — on their faces reminded me of learning these songs so many years ago.
I truly feel connected with a new group of counselors and am so happy to be the old girl connecting the new girls this summer.
Rise and Shine
This next comfort will come as a shock to anyone who knows me.
This summer I was given the opportunity to make and serve coffee to any counselor who’d like her morning jolt before the rest of camp wakes up. This was a daunting task for me as I’m a notoriously late sleeper and am also not known to be the most enthusiastic or uplifting in the mornings.
Though I was excited to be able to have coffee as soon as I woke up, I also dreaded the early wake-up call. But, putting on the strength and willpower of a tried and true ‘Ghany Girl, I started doing it.
I’d prepare the coffee before bed and wake up each morning to turn it on. At first, not many people would show up, and those who did, took take their coffee to go!
This left me on the Hen House porch, coffee in hand, looking out over Senior Camp all by my lonesome except for the occasional request for a pour.
After my routine was cemented, and I looked forward to that early morning Joe, more counselors started showing up. To my surprise, I didn’t mind making conversation so early in the morning. Maybe it was the beautiful sunrises and that fresh morning feeling, but I found that I had more in common with these women than I ever would’ve learned simply within the context of our Staff Training sessions.
We connected over our love for cooking, bonded while swapping stories about our childhoods, and some counselors even began calling me their camp “Mom.” (Again, I’m feeling old.)
This quiet pre-camp time in the mornings, with a small group of very dedicated coffee drinkers, and easy and enjoyable conversation, has helped me find my new comfort and helped others find their connections to Alleghany.
Staff Training this year has given me great confidence and clarity about the upcoming summer. Our staff has blown me away with their dedication to learning, growing, and connecting with each other. Each one of them has a special place in my heart and will undoubtedly make this summer one for the books, in mine, and in the campers’.
— Cami Bresee, Alumna and Leadership Program Coordinator, Camp Alleghany for Girls