Editor’s Note: What’s a “Maroon?” A Maroon is a counselor who was also a camper here and did not come back for her Junior Counselor (JC) summer, but now is a counselor. That unique group of our counselors gets the color designation of being a Maroon.
And last Sunday the Maroons led our Vespers. They decided to share for Vespers about why they came back to camp after having taken a few summers off from Alleghany. They all had really beautiful messages to share, and this one in particular was so awesome that we invited the author, Grace Stroup, to share it with our blog audience.
A Very Maroon Vespers
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
— Terry Pratchett
I decided to apply to be a counselor at camp while I was walking home from the hospital on a Sunday a lot like this one.
I was living in Sri Lanka at the time all by myself, with a respiratory infection. I had a lonely Thanksgiving, without my family last year.
In Sri Lanka I lived on a beautiful hill that overlooked the village of Katugastota. The air smelled like freshly cut grass after Rest Hour at camp and the sun sunk like a stone over the dirty river to the left of my bedroom.
I left camp after my 16s Summer sadly knowing that I couldn’t return for my Junior Counselor Summer. The dates didn’t line up and I already knew I was returning to the village of Wilunze in Tanzania for three weeks. It was bittersweet—having to say, “see you soon,” to such a sweet summer’s pasttime.
But camp is forgiving like that. The river still showed up for me. The songs are still ingrained in my mind. I had a year of change. Nearly every month of the past year I’ve woken up in a different space. I’ve been lonely, been scared, and have felt incredibly small.
I’ve also grown this year. I see changes that my family hasn’t and that my friends haven’t found yet. I have learned to love things about myself that I never thought I could and to accept that I will always want to be better.
The decision I made while walking home from the hospital by myself was the best one I made this year. Camp is a community that is constantly bettering itself — full of empowered, kind, and warm young women.
I am just happy to be here with all of you. Thank you for letting me “leave” so that I could come back.
— Grace Stroup, Alum and Maroon Counselor, Camp Alleghany for Girls