It’s January, camp is five months away, and we’re back to work after a small holiday break to pick up our planning for Summer 2021. We’re excitedly getting ready for summer, our 99th on the banks of the Greenbrier River. And we’re optimistic about the season ahead.
It’s true that the turmoil and pain of COVID is still reeling in our country and our world, and a spike in cases and a concern for further quarantine dominate the news. At camp we’re keenly aware of this.
We know people are suffering. This remains constantly in our prayers, in service projects we’re doing, and even in how we regard camp planning.
We’re following all relevant updates and guidelines through the American Camp Association, and from federal, state, and local agencies and officials concerning COVID. Our backup planning for potential COVID contingency plans remains in full force. We’ve communicated in the blog, on our website, and via email to registered and potential families about this. You can expect regular updates as needed going forward.
But at the same time we’re looking at a bigger picture, and a longer term picture. Because another group of people are suffering because of the pandemic, too: kids.
Kids are overwhelmingly spending more time indoors, and way too much time in front of screens in a culture that already had too many screens.
Many kids are also separated from extended family, schoolmates, teachers, churches, teams, clubs, and even beloved and meaningful camp settings and camp friends. We know that in time when camp was already a valued — and huge — counterpoint to the rest of the year, that it’s needed now more than ever.
So every day at our winter office, we get up, put our work shoes on, and take steps forward into this new year. We know that we have to look to the future with a degree of optimism because camp will be a time of tremendous relief, renewal, and relationships. Of course we’re excited about this!
That’s why today I want to acknowledge COVID planning, but also share with you what else is going on. There is good news that’s happening at the same time!
The Season Ahead
To be frank, just writing the phrase “camp is just five months away” makes me feel the timeline very intensely. The countdown that begins in January fuels a flurry of activity in a normal year, to say nothing of a year when we have to have a Plan B on tap, too.
So let’s talk about what’s happening at ‘Ghany.
First, the off-season at camp has always been about continuing professional development. Usually we’re fanning out and going to a variety of local, regional and national conferences. COVID has obviously changed that, but we still have three virtual conferences coming up in January, February, and March.
As is the case every year, we’re so looking forward to learning and growing as camp professionals at these conferences, even if they’re by ZOOM. We always come back and share some of these camp industry tidbits with you, so make sure to follow the blog for what we found most compelling in the camp world right now.
Hiring is going well, as you can see in our growing gallery of summer hires. We encourage applicants to throw their hats into the ring.
And…for further info and encouragement, Program Director Casey Tucker and I are recording a series of short videos for staff recruitment which we’ll share in the blog, and on Facebook and Instagram — so watch for those!
One of the larger jobs available is the four month position of Leadership Program Coordinator. We’re taking applications for that now and will of course share with you when we’ve made a hire.
In Other News…
After every summer we always review what we’re doing with food — what works, what doesn’t — and in relation to helpful feedback and new ideas from past summers we’re now in talks with a new food service company that we’re super excited about. I don’t have a concrete update about this just yet…but it’s a development I look forward to sharing it with you in more detail this spring.
I sent an email to registered families about how our longtime Facilities Director Garret O’Dell was leaving his position to start his own contracting firm, GWO Maintenance, and that Camp Alleghany will be one of his clients. He and his company are still on board for all maintenance needs and projects at camp.
With Garrett’s absence at camp we’ve hired a new Operations Manager — our own Cooper Dawson! Cooper is my brother, and married to our Office Manager Louise Dawson. This truly is a family business!
Our new Camp Office, Camp Store, and Infirmary set ups were ready for last summer, so we’re excited to really roll out those amazing new facilities for our campers and staff this summer.
Days at Camp
And then finally, and perhaps most important of all, it’s all about programming!
We love reviewing all the plans and supplies for our various Activity Departments like Rifle, Drama, Canoeing — all of them! — along with brainstorming new ideas for those and crafting fun new plans for Evening Activities, Campfires, and more.
There’s also programming in our Staff Training week as we employ interesting and engaging new ideas for staff bonding, staff learning, and staff development. Our staff is shaping up to be phenomenal, so get your staff application in and join this team.
When you hear updates from me going forward, trust me…it will all be about the countdown to camp. Time flies. On that note, there are still a few spaces in our Mini Camp and Term Camps, so do register now* if you want to ensure a spot for your daughter.
Happy New Year to you all. Stay safe and healthy, get outside as often as you can, and keep your chins up — this too shall pass and then we’ll have 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.