I knew I loved Camp Alleghany for Girls from the moment I first came to camp as a four-year-old in 1984. I’m sure then that I was more focused on s’mores and swimming than on what made the place run, even if my dad and grandfather were, in fact, running it.
I had no concept then of ever working here myself, much less one day becoming the director of camp! But over the years I’ve enjoyed many roles here — from thrilled “official” camper at age seven (finally!), to earnest Junior Counselor, to wearing my creativity cap as Head of Dance, and then taking on the many juggling tasks as a Head Counselor.
In the past decade, as Assistant Director, I really came to know all the behind-the-scenes pieces that make camp tick and hum along during the summer and it’s been a continual honor to work here in pursuit of our mission: to ensure we are always working towards naturally inspiring growth through honor, loyalty and friendship.
Joy, Gratitude, Service
And now to have finally become Director — I can only say how excited I am to steward this amazing and long-lived camp into the next generation!
While my dad and I have talked about this for quite some time, it still came as a surprise when he actually sat down with me in the fall to discuss the date of January 1 as the moment when I’d assume my duties.
And then when it became official and he announced it to the public via the blog and social media, I had to pinch myself. It was finally real!
In the midst of my excitement one of the most wonderful things was your outpouring of support! I’ve been overwhelmed and humbled by all the encouraging messages on Facebook, Instagram, and in calls and emails with folks. This sure sign of love and friendship just cements what I already know — that ‘Ghany Girls and ‘Ghany Friends make up the best community in the world!
Please know that I am deeply honored to step into this role, and most importantly — excited to lead Camp Alleghany into her next 100 years!
I’ve worked for and with my dad for almost two decades now on aspects of camp and it is so heartwarming to me that he will continue on in a mentorship role to camp going forward.
But more than that, from a practical point of view his knowledge base and investment in Alleghany and the camp world makes his ongoing presence on our Admin Team an important lynchpin in our successful transition to this new phase.
I certainly still do have things to learn, and Sam is the best to learn these thing from! The Admin Team as a whole shares this view and it’s something we discussed when we sat together in the Fall for our annual retreat and my dad announced this to them at that time.
I also want to thank the Admin Team profusely for their contribution to our success. Camp Alleghany is what it is, with a rich institutional memory and preservation of traditions, as well as a focused and innovative experience, because of the WHOLE team. It’s not a one-(wo)man operation by any stretch of the imagination!
When I first came on to the Admin Team about ten years ago, I expanded that team into what you know today to help relieve dad of trying to run camp alone. We’ve been so lucky to have the skilled, insightful, and visionary team members that we have, each of whom also exhibits an integrity and devotion to camp that is truly admirable.
When dad wrote his announcement blog he was kind enough to highlight contributions that I sought to make over the past decade. Thanks, Dad! 🙂 But in truth I can’t take credit for all the things he listed because it’s really been a joint effort and I couldn’t be more proud of and grateful for this team.
What Can You Expect From Me?
Now that I am taking the reins of leadership, I want you to know what I am focused on and what can you expect from me.
First, Alleghany will always hold true to its founders’ intentions — our mission, philosophy, and goals will be the same, and we’ll always be focused on meeting the needs of today’s girls.
As you can imagine, having grown up at ‘Ghany and lived and breathed its special traditions with the same gusto and love as many of you experienced, I guarantee a steadfast commitment to continuing and passing down these traditions for future ‘Ghany Girls and embracing new(ish) ones — Tree of Life anyone? — as we go forward.
I am committed to open communication among us all. Whether it’s the dynamic brainstorming and planning of the Admin Team and Counselor Leadership teams, or conversations with parents, encouragement of campers, outreach through the blog and social media — we offer a practice of straightforward, kind, and respectful communication.
We are also committed to transparency. When changes are afoot either because of action by the American Camp Association (ACA), internal changes, exploring new ideas, or issues in the larger society, I will always cultivate open, inclusive conversations that respectfully work with various stakeholders in a manner that best serves the whole culture of our beloved camp.
I will strive to bring honest leadership, an approach that goes beyond integrity and truth. It also includes the human side — that we are all learning, that we take it as a given that we all have camp’s best interest at heart, and that we rely on each other — and that I rely on my Team — to make ‘Ghany what it is.
Conferences and professional development are still some of my favorite aspects of this job! I can’t always attend every function offered, but that’s where the team comes in. And professional development also affects official changes at camp. While camps offer a meaningful antidote to some of the more trying aspects of modern life, camp must also respond in some ways to modern life. We have to always be learning and growing — and valuing that in each other — so that camp remains vibrant, relevant, and enduring!
Our accreditation as an ACA camp means that Alleghany comports with today’s industry standards and best practices for camps today. I will see to it that we always meet and exceed the accreditation standards set out by the ACA and that we take under advisement best practices suggestions from both the ACA and in the camp culture at large, experienced at conferences and found in the excellent books, blogs, and other resources by leading camp industry experts. For example, our emerging Leaders-In-Training Program (Summer 2019), accommodating food allergies at camp, issues in electronics and social media at camp, and other key issues have all been inspired by best practices suggestions from the ACA, at camp conferences, and by other camp leaders.
The More Things Change the More They Stay the Same
Is there anything that will really change because I’m the new director? No, not much! It’s still a family business, just one moving firmly into the next generation and led by a working mother running a girls camp who, ironically, has three boys! 😉
Our Administration Team functions well, with everyone bringing unique talents, expert insight, and reliability to their jobs.
Sam will continue to stay on and help out, and mentor us when needed. We won’t use an Assistant Director (my former position), since many of the things I was doing there I will continue to perform as Director. We’re likely to bring on some kind of administrative assistant at some point to help with various office tasks, but that’s not fully worked out just yet.
And you can be sure that we will continue to have fun at camp, take lots of pictures, develop deep friendships, nurture each other, and craft a superior experience for the littlest girls on up to our LITs.
The changes that are coming soon we’ve already talked to you about, namely the LIT program, which is still 18 months off, so…not a heckuva lot of change before then.
I guess the biggest thing going on besides our normal “off-season” behind-the-scenes admin work is…the countdown to camp — Just 152 Days until Opening Day of Mini Camp!
Thank you again everyone! Thank you so much.
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls