Our New Office Building, with Store and Post Office
Back in 2019 we had some important decisions to make on much needed infrastructural updates to camp. And at that moment we had the resources, time, and manpower for one new building — but which building would that be?
Our Arts & Crafts Lodge was in desperate need of an overhaul. But at the same time we were quickly outgrowing our small office building. The office won out, as you may have read last year on the blog.
We wanted to then do the Arts & Crafts building by Summer 2021, but COVID hit, camp closed for a year, and between budgetary hits and construction backlogs, we’ve ended up having to wait. So here’s looking at 2023 for a new Arts & Crafts building. We’ll give you updates as we move along and hope you’ll share our excitement!
Back in the Summer of 2020, when we were otherwise closed but did hold our modified “Family Retreats” program, we were able to move into our new Office and really get settled in.
At the time we were so hopeful about unveiling these buildings for Mini & Term Camps. But looking back I see that it was a blessing to have moved in during Family Retreats in 2020, which allowed us to work out the kinks. Given how busy and challenging the start of Summer 2021 was (with Covid protocols, pods, and testing to manage), it was nice to already have our flow down in this key new multi-purpose building.
Once we were back in action this summer, 2021, with almost full capacity of campers and staff, using the new building to its full potential was such a delight..as you’ll soon see!
The Store & Post Office
The main floor of the building is a large space for both the Camp Store and Camp Post Office. This was the first time in camp’s history that we’ve had an indoor, walk-around store, as opposed to just a walk-up store where campers shop through a window with assistance.
Our Store Managers for the summer felt like this had huge benefits, especially for the campers being able to really see and feel the items before purchasing.
Store Manager Ruth Reitz remarked that,
“The new store was a big hit this summer! Since it’s a walk-in shopping experience the campers are able to see our merchandise close up and take their time shopping. We have so much more functional space with the Store, Post Office and Storage Room all together. I’m so excited for our 100th summer!”
The building as a whole has a large wrap-around porch and several sets of stairs, making it easy to set up one-way traffic for camp mail. Campers would go up one set of stairs, head to the Post Office window, ask for their mail, and then head down a different set of stairs. That traffic flow meant that people weren’t bumping into each other, and also helped during the first Pod week when we were still some doing distancing through grouping.
The Upstarts (14s and 15s) often met on the Store Porch for their daily Upstarts bonding and leadership activity, especially if it was raining. The porches were all very useful and inviting during rainy days. Now…we didn’t have many rainy days this summer, as is evidenced by the brown grass in some of our pictures from this summer, but…knowing how well the porches can be used for indoor-outdoor space, providing shelter from the rain, or offering shade, makes the addition of the porches a wonderful asset for camp and our campers!
During the first week of each Term when we moved in Pods and held all of our meals outdoors, the Porch was the perfect perch from which to make our announcements at the end of each meal.
We had thought that we might use the underneath section of the building (a space under the Store, but tall enough to stand up under) for rainy days, but it was a bit dark under there, and the ground was rocky dirt. We’re exploring options for making this more useful, so let us know of any creative ideas for that kind of space that we might not have thought of. If nothing comes to mind, we might just close it off with lattice.
The Top Floor, Our New Office Space
All I can say is “WOW!” Our third floor Camp Office is beautiful, huge, and designed with the functionality to really serve a smooth camp experience!
We worked very hard with former Facilities Director Garrett O’Dell to design this space in a way that maximized work flow between Administrative Team members, while giving us all the storage we needed for an active summer office. And he truly delivered!
The remainder of the building (besides the Store and Post Office) houses a very large, open foyer with a front desk and reception area, a kitchenette, some desk and creative work space for counselors or other staff, and counselor electronics cubbies.
The other rooms in the building include four large offices, a conference room, a work room with an abundance of counter space and cabinets, a large walk-in closet, and a powder room. The hallway has been used efficiently with admin mailboxes and a few whiteboards – kind of like a command center in the center of the building.
The building is kind of a maze of hallways and connecting office rooms, with several doors opening out to the wraparound porch. After being piled up on top of each other in our small former office space with one central door to the outside it took some time getting used to the various ways to go from the outside into your own space, or back out — especially with the porch providing impromptu meeting places for quick conversations or breaks.
While there are so many ways to get from point A to point B within the building, for those visiting the Office the front desk and reception area makes it easy to manage the flow of people who need something from the Office.
Each office room houses 2-3 people, and they’re large enough to be flexible and very functional spaces. I loved setting up my office (shared with my assistant, Whitney), and getting settled into this summer back at camp with our full traditional camp programs running at nearly full capacity.
I also love the neatness that storage spaces provide and the kitchen space for snacks, breaks, and keeping everything orderly. We felt very blessed with all this SPACE! Everything fit so well and nothing seemed crowded and most of all, it facilitates running camp with ease and clarity.
Wait though…I said nothing was crowded. But we did get feedback that the counselor electronics cubbies need some work. We have a Fully Connected Community at camp, which means that counselors store their electronics in the Office during on-duty hours Counselors can access their devices when needed during off-time, or retrieve them for days off. This keeps all basic camp activities, the Counselors’ Lodge, (and Tent Row, of course!) fully tech-free so that counselors have that much-needed break, rest, and detox from the digital world while focusing fully on their mentorship of our campers.
However, the counselors did need to access their electronics for myriad reasons — from submitting work for college courses to job hunting, checking in with loved ones, and more — so the front Office space became crowded at certain points. We’re working through some of those logistics and will tackle this at our upcoming Fall Admin Team Meeting in early November.
A Smooth Working Infirmary
Something that we absolutely can’t forget to mention in this remodel is that the former Camp Office became the new Infirmary, and boy was that an upgrade!
First, having the Office and Infirmary next door to each other was perfect on so many levels. These two parts of camp work together very closely, so being neighbors was helpful for communication, proximity front, and the ease of follow-through. We could also see the Infirmary porch from the Office windows, which just made us feel more connected as the vital nerve center of camp.
With the Infirmary’s new location being “off the beaten path” and away from Tent Row, it gave the whole medical center more of a quiet, calm feel which is great for everything from patients recuperating or resting if necessary to extra privacy for getting medicine or treatment. It also removed distractions for our Medical Staff who have paperwork and downtime in the same space. Overall we saw only benefits to moving the Infirmary to this location.
The Infirmary has two front doors, and the medical staff separated the front porch into two sections – one door was for regular medications, and the other door was for campers who needed to see the doctor for a specific reasons outside of regular medications (e.g. a rash, a sprained ankle, etc). The functionality of this was noticed immediately. There was better traffic flow, triage was clearer, and everything was simply much, much better for staff and patients alike!
Then, for COVID protocol and prevention reasons we limited the number of people who could be inside the Infirmary at any given time. Campers who took regular medications did it out on the Infirmary porch rather than coming in. This was very effective and a discovery that we’ll likely continue with in future summers.
Getting to give all our new spaces a run this summer was a real delight — I should have added it to my Top 5 of Summer 2021 blog! (Let’s make it an honorary #6!)
Since whenever we’re not in camp we’re counting down to be back at camp I can say without reservation that we’re excited to get back into these spaces next summer to show them off to everyone coming to celebrate our 100th anniversary!
If you haven’t yet registered your camper* there’s still time — our Early Bird Registration goes through December 1, 2021 at a reduced rate of tuition. Can’t wait to see you at camp!
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download my 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. Come join us!