No matter how long you’ve been doing it, there’s always something new to learn about running a camp.
Whether it’s deciding how to deal with the impact of electronic gadgets from the “outside” world on camp policy, exploring new ideas for activities, or simply updating methods for tracking information, it’s an industry like any other where keeping up with professional development is a key facet of running the business.
My grandfather, S. Cooper Dawson, Jr. knew this too, way back in the 1960’s when he became the owner and director of Camp Alleghany. So he made it a tradition to get together with local camp directors to informally exchange ideas, share camaraderie and just talk shop with others in the field. He loved doing this, finding it a source of annual inspiration.
Because there’s a lot of ways to keep up with professional development, such as going to conferences, reading articles in magazines and online, and meeting up at camp fairs, Papa’s tradition somehow faded here. But I got to thinking about just what a personal approach his style was, and I got really excited. I wanted to try it! So together with my friend Ann Batley, director of Camp Mont Shenandoah (CMS), we decided to bring back the tradition.
About a week ago, my dad Sam, my husband Matt and I went to CMS for the first get together in our revived camp directors round-robin. Directors from Camp Twin Creeks and Camp Friendship joined us, too.
A rejuvenating day!
Ann was in her element, opening her camp—which is gorgeous—to the rest of us. We ate delicious snacks on the CMS deck which overlooks Virginia’s pristine Cowpasture River. We all took a tour of the camp, and then had a fun cookout style dinner in their Dining Hall, which they call “Feed Bag.”I love it!
The entire day was so fun and a great opportunity to socialize with other camp directors. We shared ideas and insights that were inspiring and helpful, and which, no matter how good they are online or in a publication, just aren’t the same as meeting face-to-face.
We all enjoyed it so much that we definitely want to continue the tradition, hopefully going from camp to camp so that each of us can play the host and share what’s special about our camps.
And when it’s here? You know I’ll be like Ann, absolutely in my element and beaming to share Camp Alleghany, a business (but so much more) that’s been in our family for 47 years!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany