Recently we had a very special, somewhat historic, Vespers. It was led by third-generation legacy campers and counselors — those whose grandmothers also attended Alleghany.
So many wonderful stories were shared that night when all-camp gathered on Vespers Hill. I wish I could relay the depth of meaning of that night, and share with our blog readers ALL of the stories. But for simplicity’s sake, I’ve narrowed it to four stories (one of which is a shared story by two first cousins).
I hope our readers will enjoy as much as we did!
Tracing Back to Kitty Wilson
In 1923, Kitty Wilson was asked to be a Counselor at a small summer camp in West Virginia that had opened the year prior. Twenty-tow years later her daughter, Maria Garnett, was at the same camp having many of the same experiences.
Thus began the long line of ‘Ghany Girls in my family — from my great grandmother, Kitty, all the way down to my sisters and me now.
Thinking back on it, I always simply assumed camp ran in my blood; however, I know now that the influence my grandmother had and continues to have on me sparked my love for camp and helps it thrive today.
This summer I feel more connected to my grandmother and her camp roots than ever before.
When she was at camp as a sixteen, Granny faced the fact that in the following summer, for the first time since she was six, she would not be able to return to camp. Back then there was no program for the 17-year-olds who were too old to be campers but not yet old enough to be counselors. So they simply did not come to camp.
However, the next summer she and her three best friends were back as the first group of Junior Counselors at camp.
They wrote a song introducing themselves and hung out in an isolated tent that they called the Purple Palace.
Years later, they stood side-by-side at each others’ weddings, dressed in lilac and carrying purple flowers.
For years, I listened to Granny talk about her camping and counseling days at Camp Alleghany for Girls, and dreamed of the day when I would be able to call myself “purple” just as she does in her stories about being a JC.
Now, I stand here as a JC myself, singing the song she and her friends wrote every morning at assembly and hanging out in a slightly modified version of the Palace.
Although there are 17 of us instead of four, I feel the same close connection to my purple princesses that Granny felt with hers, and I know they will be a part of my life for many years to come.
I have my grandmother to thank for recognizing the magic of Camp Alleghany, and passing it on to me, just as her mom had for her.
— Ellie Harvie, Alum and Junior Counselor
Harkening Back to Millie Mapp
Our grandmother is Millie Mapp — we call her “Mommee.” She was a camper for three years back in the 1950s.
During her first year as a camper she was tentmates with a girl named Sally-O, who is McKenna, Baylea, and Bella’s grandmother.
Even though they only spent three years at camp together, they continued their friendship for the rest of her life.
She introduced Sally-O to both of her daughters (our moms), who then introduced her to us.
We have known Sally-O for almost our entire lives.
Seeing how a friendship started at camp at such a young age could last a whole lifetime proved to us that camp friendships really are the best friendships.
Cami and I are as close as we are because of camp. Other than maybe one holiday each year, camp is the only time we are able to see each other. We cherish this time together and we’ll miss it in the future when we are unable to return.
We are so thankful that our Mommee introduced us to this place and raised us on the values she was taught as a camper here.
We have not only our friendship, but many more to be grateful for. We would like to thank our beloved grandmother and Camp Alleghany for making us the people we are today.
— Eva Parks and Cami Bresee (first cousins – same grandma), Alum and Counselors
A Miracle for Langhorne Sydnor
My grandmother, Langhorne Sydnor, came to Alleghany in 1952 from Lynchburg, Virginia. She was one of three children, while her father was one of twelve. And being that it was just after the end of World War II, there was very little money to spare.
Some of the girls who grew up on the same street as my grandmother went to camp. She was always very envious of them but her father, my great-grandfather, always said it was too expensive.
However, one day when she was 15, she opened her mailbox to find an envelope with the money to attend Alleghany.
That summer my grandma got her first taste of Alleghany and loved every moment of it.
She even went on to be a counselor and have campers of her own.
To this day — 65 years later — she still has no idea who it was that anonymously sent her to camp.
Fast forward many years and my grandma went on to send her two daughters, my mom and my aunt to Alleghany in 1976 and 1979.
They both felt an extremely special connection to camp as they laughed, made lifelong friends, and learned so much about themselves.
Now here I am at Alleghany, after eight summers spent on the Greenbrier River. I have been fortunate enough to experience the magic of ‘Ghany with both first and second cousins and my sister.
I have been coming since I was a little girl, making the 6,000 mile round trip from Camano Island in Washington state.
Sixty-five years after my grandmother first came to camp, I get to laugh and make my own friends and memories here just like she did.
This brings me to my last point: in the end it doesn’t matter where you’re from or how you got here. What matters is that you are here.
So please, cherish these last two weeks we all have left in this beautiful place because the memory and impact of Alleghany truly can and will last a lifetime!
— Caroline Rawls, Alum and JC
Maybe you have a granddaughter or daughter or grand niece or other relative who would like to be here at camp with us.
Keep following along with the blog and feel free to contact me any time about our summer camp programs (Mini and Term Camps) for rising 2nd-11th grade girls, and our emerging Leaders-In-Training Program slated for 2019.
Also, I invite you to download my FREE e-book, 3 Reasons to Begin Your Child’s Sleepaway Summer Camp Journey Early:
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Alum and Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls