Growin Up at ‘Ghany

The Circle Game

Yesterday a camper came to ‘Ghany,
Caught up in her Junior fantasies.
Swing sets, pillow fights, and yelling barnyards.
These are all a part of camping days,

And the summers, they go on and on,

And the ‘Ghany spirit lasts on and on.
We’re captive on a carousel of time.
We can’t return, we can only look
Behind from where we came,
And go round and round and round in the circle game.

Then the child returned to Alleghany,
Loyal was her yellow Start-Up heart.
One more year and then she’d be a Senior,
Never to forget her Junior ays.


Sixteen followed fiften in her years now,
Start-Up turned to Upstart on the run.
One more year of camping stood before her,
Ghany’s ghost had filled her summer dreams.


Counseloring is just around the corner.
JC summer is such a special time.
So unsure and yet it’s so exciting,
You’re a part of Alleghany once more.


Little girls first catch the ‘Ghany magic
In a fun-filled summer’s mini-week.
Tie-dye, the Inspector, making new friends:
These fill just a taste of what hearts seek.

If you’ve ever been to Camp Alleghany for Girls, chances are you know the song “The Circle Game.” This particular song has always been one of my favorites and has become more and more meaningful as I’ve gotten older. Looking back now, I can’t believe how fast time has gone and that I’ve been a part of every stage of camp that’s described in the song “The Circle Game.”

Up Through the Ranks

I’ve spent the majority of my life calling Camp Alleghany my “home away from home.” Because my grandmother started working at camp as a nurse the summer before I was born, I’ve always been a ‘Ghany girl and couldn’t wait to finally spend my first summer at Camp. I impatiently waited for a few years and when I was finally seven, I spent my first summer at Mini Camp.

The following year, I decided to do another summer of Mini Camp, not because I wasn’t ready for Term Camp, but because Mini Camp was so much fun and I didn’t think it could get any better.

I was wrong.

Term Camp was better because I got to spend even more time at the place I loved. For the next seven summers, I went to Term Camp: from Unit 2 Junior Camp until my final summer as a 16-year-old camper, or what we at ‘Ghany call our “16s summer.”

From Camper to Junior Counselor — An Unbroken Circle

Then, the summer of 2019, I applied and was accepted as a Junior Counselor (JC) — this was the best summer I could’ve ever asked for. Not only was I able to spend time with some of my best friends that I had grown up with at camp, but I got to be a mentor to younger campers.

I loved being a role model for campers who looked up to me and came to me for advice, just as I had done with my counselors. First Term that summer I was a Counselor to the Start-Ups, the oldest campers in Junior Camp, and Second Term I was in Unit 2 Junior Camp with girls who had just finished 4th grade. Both age groups were so much fun, and I absolutely loved my tent campers.

When it came to the full camp day, I taught in the Dance and Archery activity areas. One of my favorite things about getting to teach activities was that it allowed me to interact with campers of all ages. Because I was a tent counselor in Junior Camp, I didn’t have a whole lot of one-on-one time with older campers and valued the time I spent with them during activities.

Even though there was a wide age range of campers, I feel that my interactions with younger campers and the older ones were fairly similar. It was very important to me to find that balance of being a camper’s friend, but also their mentor where I help guide them if they faced any challenges, uncertainty, or temptations.

I remember how much influence all of my past counselors had on my life and it’s so crazy to me that I’ve become that person for other girls! I value that position so much and will never take it for granted. I tried to make it a point to make sure my tent campers in Junior Camp, along with any other camper, knew they could always talk to me about anything. Camp Alleghany is a safe place and counselors should also be a safe place for campers and even other counselors.

More Roles at Camp

Last summer I was hired for a leadership position — as Head of Unit 2 Junior Camp and also as an Intern to work on marketing and communications for the summer. Unfortunately, due to Covid, we didn’t have our normal operating summer. During my JC summer I grew so much in confidence, and learned how to lead and plan activities, so I was really looking forward to growing my leadership skills and having the opportunity to build relationships with new campers and counselors during summer 2020.

While I didn’t get to be at camp, I was able to do the internship during the off-season.

Over the last 11 years, I’ve learned so much from camp.

Camp has helped me with being away from home in college, working in teams, adapting to difficult situations, and so much more. I’ve also made lifelong friends that I can always go to for support.

What You Can Gain Working at Camp

One of my favorite things about camp is the ability to break out of my shell and try new things. I never thought that I would enjoy archery, but it’s now one of my favorite activities. I’ve also always been a fairly quiet person, but my summers at camp, especially as a counselor, have helped me to speak up and have fun. I was definitely gently and supportively pushed out of my comfort zone and I’m forever grateful for that.

I believe that girls need a place to feel free, unjudged, and have a break from the real world. I love that technology, make-up, and fashion are not a part of ‘Ghany. All of this allows the girls to truly get to know each other and not feel like they’re competing for attention. Everyone can be authentic and simply be themselves. Same goes for what work life is like as a counselor.

I couldn’t have asked for a better place to spend so many summers of my life.

I can’t believe I’ve made it all the way through “The Circle Game,” but I’m so glad I did. I hope to be back at ‘Ghany for more trips “round and round and round in the circle game” in future summers. What about you?

Apply now to have the most memorable and rewarding summer ever!

— Haley McClelland, Alum and Staff Recruiting Intern, Camp Alleghany for Girls