Family Camp has come to a close and this is the time of year I start to reflect on Summer 2023 as a whole – the positive, the not-so-positive, what we did well, where we can improve, and so on.
With this reflection, I love to put together a Top 5 Blog with my favorite things from the summer! See my past Top 5 blogs. So here goes, in no particular order:
Our New Arts & Crafts Lodge
We’ve posted and blogged about this a little already, but now that we’ve used the new Arts & Crafts Lodge for a summer I can safely say it is one of my favorite places in camp! It’s large, spacious, bright, and just beautiful in general. But on top of that, it’s also a very effective use of space – it is organized and has ample space for each type of craft we wanted to offer this year.
Alumna Blake Aldridge agreed to come back and run Arts & Crafts this summer, to help us resurrect many crafts we used to do and settle into the new space. She did a fantastic job and guided campers through woodworking, leathering, painting, batiking, quilling, looming, and more. We had some extra assistance with pottery and sewing as well. The crafts were gorgeous and the Art Shows this summer were exceptional!
The new Lodge also has a massive covered front porch that was extremely useful during rainy days. It can fit all of camp on it, and we used it many times when the weather wasn’t in our favor. And the Lodge itself is so large that it’s also just another sturdy interior space for weather-related situations.
So overall, the new building houses plenty of space for creativity to shine, while also acting as a very useful space for inclement weather. It’s a win-win!
The lantern is our symbol and something we have used at camp for generations. The flood of 2016 wiped out or ruined many of our lanterns, at which time we decided to try to retrofit them with solar-powered bulbs. This plan didn’t go as well as intended, and it’s taken us a few years to focus our energies back on this beloved part of camp.
Enter First Term Support Staff! Many of our support staff members are alumnae who remember falling asleep to the soft glow of the firelight outside their tents, and they were motivated to help us bring this back. They polished, cleaned, repaired, filled, purged, tested, and hung these beauties, and in the process, we searched for a new lantern vendor and found one who is offering us new ones at a reasonable price.
While we still don’t have a working lantern on every tent post (yet), camp came back to life in the evenings with the glow of the lanterns throughout all of Junior and Senior Camps. We’re so thrilled to have brought this back and are working on teaching the current generation of counselors and campers how to properly care for the lanterns, light them and blow them out (counselors only, of course). It warms our souls to walk through tent row at night now and see the lanterns all lit! Thank you to our First Term Support Staff for truly making this happen!
Our Summer 2023 Staff
And speaking of our staff, I can’t write this blog without being grateful for ALL of our staff – from counselors, to support staff, medical staff, kitchen staff and our chefs, the Green Team, the housekeeping staff, and office and administration.
We had the most stellar staff of counselors this summer who bonded well, worked SO hard, and put in such great effort to create an amazing experience for the campers. I am so appreciative of their hard work!
Our support staff was so generous with their time this summer, helping out in so many capacities (see above with lanterns!). Similarly, the medical staff was top-notch this summer and we truly enjoyed spending time with them and working with them. We love welcoming alumnae as well as new support staff and are always so grateful for their work here.
The kitchen staff and chefs were wonderful this summer – our food was the best it’s been in years! And the Green Team and housekeeping staff were also so friendly and hardworking.
And of course, I can’t talk about staff without mentioning my stellar Administrative Team and office help, including our new Program Director Stephanie, and new Director of Marketing and Leadership Cami. The three of us worked so well together as a team this summer and I can’t wait to see how we grow as a team in the coming year.
Camp doesn’t happen without staff, and ALL of our staff were phenomenal this year!
Celebrating Sam & Bonnie
This summer was my parents Sam and Bonnie’s last summer at Alleghany as they plan to retire as of October 1. We are all so happy for them, but sad for us – it has been bittersweet! We celebrated them in lots of big and little ways this summer, and this was a highlight of my summer.
First, Sam and Bonnie have long done a Sonny and Cher impersonation where they lip-synch to “I Got You Babe” (I can remember watching them do this when I was a young camper!). We made sure they performed this one last time each term, much to the delight of the campers and counselors.
Second, the support staff toasted Bonnie and Sam one evening each term with memories, well wishes, classic I Remembers, and general good cheer. It was a retirement party of sorts, and it was such fun, yet emotional at the same time.
We made sure to take pictures or videos of some of their final tasks, such as Sam’s final day passing out peppermint patties, and Bonnie’s final morning announcements.
And finally, the campers all shared special I Remembers for both Sam and Bonnie at Babies’ Boats and Candlelight Campfire.
While it’s definitely a sad and emotional time for many of us at Alleghany (and we have some big shoes to fill in certain areas!), we wish them much happiness in retirement, and this was definitely one of my favorite parts of the summer.
A Calm Summer 2023…
All summer long people would ask me, “So how is camp going? How is the summer?” and for fear of jinxing things I just kept repeating “so far, so good!” But it really was good – and calm! After a couple of years of COVID testing and COVID-related stress and issues, which followed the summer when we actually couldn’t even open due to COVID, which followed a handful of summers with some river- and weather-related issues, I was ready for a calm summer, or as some staff like to say, “a summer of nothing.” And that’s what we got!
Of course, there are the normal ups and downs, ebbs and flows of stress, and some fires to put out here and there, but overall we didn’t have any one significant issue that kept us up at night. And for that I am grateful!
So that is my Top 5 for 2023. It was overall a very successful summer and I am proud of the work we do as an organization. Now I am off to nap for a few weeks ;), and then it’s onward to Summer 2024!