You may now be entirely aware — or completely oblivious — to the hold that Camp Alleghany will have over you, for the rest of your life.
Whether you leave only every now and then or for great long stretches of time, you are held firmly within her tender grip and warm embrace, forever.
How you experience this will be very personal and very different from your tent mates, your counselors, your best friends and other campers, past and present.
But there are three ways this grip and embrace affect all who love ‘Ghany.
1. Random stimuli trigger very real memories of the smells and sounds and sights of Camp Alleghany.
For me, the joy and peace of all my twelve years at ‘Ghany is encapsulated into one clear mental image:
I am alone, writing in my Junior Counselor (JC) journal in the Purple Palace one rare Sunday afternoon that I am not called to fulfill one of my endless purple duties. I look up from my writing to see thousands of shimmering emeralds twinkling through the riverside window in a kaleidoscope of sunbeams filtering through summer leaves and bouncing off the Greenbrier’s glassy surface. Behind me on the hill bullets sound off the deliberate units of a Distinguished Expert in the making while, beside me, Carly Simon belts an anthem of womanhood on the 8-track.
2. These sensory recollections refresh for you all the ways ‘Ghany profoundly impacted your life.
I have yet to come across the ‘Ghany Girl who doesn’t have this sense and expresses it in more or less the same words: that Camp Alleghany prepared us to be capable women, able to navigate our way through opportunities, challenges, triumphs and mistakes with class and grace, good reasoning and a fair amount of soul; that we couldn’t possibly have gotten this far without her; and that tiny little smells or sounds or tastes or songs trigger these iconic memories, which eventually bring us back to the gifts ‘Ghany gave us.
I heard that kind of comment a lot from fellow participants of the first LOL (Labor of Love) Weekend, held June 12 – 14, 2015.
Bonds that last forever
3. The bond formed through these common experiences overcomes any geographic, chronologic, or circumstantial ways we might otherwise differ.
One loyal husband, and twenty-one women who know those sunlit emeralds and the sound of a .22 and the lyrics to “Anticipation,” gathered together on good faith that this glorious experiment would work and that the LOL Weekend would be productive, fun and noticed by campers and counselors during term camp and beyond.
We had faith that Beth Anne Clarke-Thomas (BA) would have our activities coordinated and our supplies at the ready, that we would be well-fed and tended to, and that we would leave closer friends than when we arrived.
Being the only one from my age group, I was not all that close to many of them, yet it was still so easy to be with and work alongside each of them, painting, planting, weeding, clearing and sprucing – because we all share this very important influence.
The details of how Alleghany affected each of us came out during the work, on the river in the afternoon, around the fire, and singing in the Counselor Lodge. Every story was unique, but they were bound by the sorts of common threads that lead to instant and infinite kinship.
You’ll always be a ‘Ghany Girl
You, dear camper, will certainly learn that anywhere you go, you may be reminded of ‘Ghany through the most unexpected triggers, that She will come rushing into your senses in very vivid and personal ways, and that you will feel a surge in gratitude for how She has changed you.
And you will also learn that anywhere you go, when you meet another member of the ‘Ghany family for the first time, you will quickly feel as if that person was once your tent mate — because you each understand the other’s gratitude and so are able to embrace each other’s character.
Whether your iconic camp memories or imagery include the smell of the campfire, the deliberate pace of the river, the glow of the lanterns, or the cinnamon warmth of Carrie’s sweet rolls, you will share the same reaction with all others who love ‘Ghany: you will pause in the middle of your business meeting or your class or your cooking or whatever you are doing. Pause, inhale with the rush of old senses, feel the glow of camp in your heart, and exhale gratitude.
— Cloud Quarngesser, Alumni, Camp Alleghany for Girls