So campers while we are here let’s be friends firm and true…
— “Father Time”
What do those words from the traditional camp song “Father Time” really mean? I can give evidence to their meaning from a gloriously long and delightful weekend spent together with my some of my fellow alumnae — those of us who were in the 16s age cohort of ’75!
As girls had done for decades before, across the late 60s and into the 70s various girls came into one another’s lives at Camp Alleghany for Girls for a brief three- or six-weeks time. There was no email, no text messaging, no FaceTime.
For the next 10 or 11 months between our summer reunions back at camp, we maintained telephone and postal mail communications.
In the following summers we introduced our First Term friends to Second Term friends they’d never met through black-and-white Kodak photos from the previous summer’s escapades! And then came 1975, the last summer we were all campers together. We each treasured our camp memories and carefree days of playing on the banks of the Greenbrier River and growing both individually and as a unit.
Back again…and again
Some of us returned the following summer as Junior Counselors. Some did not. Many of us became counselors and we returned year-after-year, growing into leadership positions for as many as six, seven, and eight years! We left behind summer beach trip opportunities, hanging out with high school buddies, even boyfriends! Our commitment to one another and to Alleghany was our priority.
Yet even as our adult lives blossomed with families, careers, and things which took us away from our beloved Alleghany, the 16s of ’75 steadfastly remained in touch.
We attended each other’s weddings, celebrated births of babies, rejoiced in career promotions, and the ‘Ghany bond held us together through it all. Across many miles and many states we were forever tethered by our summers together, forever remaining united as the 16s of ’75.
In 2015, during the first Laugh Out Loud Alumni Weekend (LOL Weekend) in June, we gathered together for our 40th reunion. It was fabulous! In the words of a popular song from 1975, we were “Some Kind of Wonderful!” We committed to one another at that time that we would not let a year go by that we didn’t get together. And so began our annual reunions.
Just a few months after our LOL Weekend together, in the fall of 2015 we held our first fall reunion in Sandbridge, Virginia at the beautiful home of Carolyn Oast. We drove in, flew in, and carpooled in for a weekend of reminiscing, sharing ‘Ghany photos and memorabilia, and simply enjoying the bond we built so many years ago at our cherished home away from home at Alleghany.
The tradition has continued each fall.
Across a long weekend just this November, 2019, there were 10 members of the 16s of ’75 who gathered together again. This time at my home along the Greenbrier River, not far from camp. A sum of nine states and the District of Columbia were represented.
Several of our crew have now retired, others dream of that day in the near future. Many of us have sent our own daughters to Alleghany and those daughters continued as campers and then into leadership positions, also developing bonds with one another. We hope they too will enjoy the immeasurable love and support that comes from the friendships developed so fast at Alleghany, but so true; withstanding the passing of time.
Of the many wonderful things we shared and did together at our recent reunion, a highlight of our weekend was packing lunches, parking in the Camp Alleghany parking lot, walking the river trail together, then returning to the parking lot to sit in a circle for a picnic lunch. We laughed so hard our sides hurt. We walked to the edge of the water and onto The Barge, longing to set foot in camp where our love for one another first began.
We have plans to gather as many of us together as possible again in June 2020 for the next LOL weekend.
Friends, fast and true. That’s part of the intangible gift that Camp Alleghany gives to every girl who crosses that barge for the first time. She has no idea when she begins her summer camp experience* that it is so very much more than a summer camp.
As unique as we each are as individuals we will forever be stronger, better, and bonded because of our friendships begun at Alleghany.
*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download Camp Alleghany Director Elizabeth Shreckhise’s FREE e-book, 3 Reasons to Begin Your Child’s Sleepaway Summer Camp Experience Early. It’s a great resource to share with friends, or if you are a first-time camp family and you wonder what sleepaway camp would be like for your child.