The first day or two of camp always begin with icebreakers – making new friendships as well as rekindling old ones. One of the most commonly asked questions between ‘Ghany Girls during those first few days is always, “How did you find out about camp?”
Every time I’m asked this question I can’t help but laugh a little because the story of how I discovered camp is truly unique.
Best Friends Forever
When I was six years old my parents decided to move our family overseas – to Tokyo, Japan. There, I attended an international all girls English-speaking school called The International School of the Sacred Heart, or ISSH. Our grade at ISSH was incredibly diverse with young students from all over the globe, including Malta, India, and Spain.
I began school at ISSH in the middle of first grade in 2006. The following year Hannah, a cute freckled girl from Australia joined our class. In the middle of second grade, after Hannah, came Gracey. Hannah, Gracey, and I were great friends throughout elementary school and were in the same Girl Scout troop for nearly four years. The three of us were never in the same class but Hannah and I spent second grade side by side while Gracey and I giggled our way through half of the fifth grade.
Normally, as an expatriate – or expat, you return to your home country for the summer. In my family’s case we went to visit our grandparents in Chicago and Boston. The summer before fifth grade my family returned a few weeks before Gracey’s, and I asked my mom every day when she would be home so we could have a playdate.
The day she came home I rushed over to her house and her mom told me that Gracey was really jet-lagged and had just gotten home from camp. I had no clue what Gracey’s mom, Ms. Katy, meant by “camp” but I happily played with my American Girl Dolls alongside my best friend until, while we were doing Kaya’s hair, she simply fell asleep from exhaustion.
Come November of fifth grade my family’s time in Tokyo was coming to an end and we were packing up to move to Toronto, Canada. I cried the entire flight to Canada and was so sad to be leaving so many special friends (and sushi), especially Hannah and Gracey.
During the entirety of fifth grade I non-stopped e-mailed and Skyped both Gracey and Hannah. Every day I’d beg my parents to let me see Gracey and Hannah during the summer, even just for a day.
How Camp Collapses Distance
After a few months went by, my mom told me she had found a way for me to see them during the summer. Her answer? Camp Alleghany for Girls!
My mom explained to me that Ms. Katy, Gracey’s mom had attended Camp Alleghany as a young girl and loved it. Ms. Katy loved it so much that she sent Gracey to Alleghany during that summer she fell asleep while playing with our American Girl dolls.
Now it was my turn to join the Alleghany family and the best part was that I was going to see my best friends for a whole three weeks! Gracey, Hannah, and I all attended Alleghany in the summer of 2010 and continued to do so up until our Sixteens Summer. Hannah’s younger sister, Makenzie, has also been at camp every summer I’ve been there.
So when people ask me, “How did you find out about camp?” My answer is always this: I used to live in Tokyo, and when I was 10 I moved to Toronto and wanted to be able to see my best friends in the summer, so, we all came to camp, a camp that my best friend’s mom went to and loved!
My answer is always long and the story is complicated but I think that the way I discovered camp is one of the coolest. After all, it all begins with a country halfway across the globe!
I still keep in contact with both Gracey and Hannah. Sadly, neither of them were able to join me during our Junior Counselor summer in 2016, but this year I’m so excited that Hannah and I will both be a part of the counseling staff this summer!
I talk to Hannah nearly every day in anticipation for our reunion and can’t wait for the rest of our age group to see her again.
Gracey will be attending Furman University in the fall and Hannah will spend the next four years at The Rhode Island School of Design. I have no doubt that our friendships will continue throughout college and beyond and I truly can’t wait to see what these creative, intelligent, and beautiful young women will do in their lives.
Camp has become such an integral part of my life and I love it dearly. There isn’t a day that goes by without discussing camp with my younger sisters, Grace and Hope.
Thank You For The Gift of Camp
So to Ms. Katy – thank you so much for sharing Camp Alleghany with me and my family and giving me a place that I will forever find special. All of the memories and friends I’ve made at Alleghany I have because of you.
I’ll be working at camp again this summer alongside Ella as one of the Heads of Four Year Celebrations and Carnival. I can’t wait for the upcoming summer and look forward to seeing all of the smiling faces of campers and counselors – new and old.
Maybe there will even be one — or more — from Japan! Hmmmm…sounds interesting. Any takers?
— Paige Koritz, Alum & Counselor, Camp Alleghany for Girls