Remembering Natalie

“Welcoming. Energetic. Vibrant. Inclusive. The Epitome of a ‘Ghany Girl.”

These words and more have come up again and again in our social media comments section to describe Natalie Wade when our Alleghany community learned of her passing. I was so overwhelmed by the outpouring of comments that I made a word cloud out of them (see below). What a set of perfect descriptions of our Natalie!

Natalie Wade was a long time camper and counselor at Alleghany. Her first summer as a camper was 2007. She spent nine enthusiastic summers as a camper. I remember clearly her endless energy, vibrant personality, loud (in a good way!) voice and laughter, and all-consuming love for Alleghany.

She was a Full Termer almost every single summer she attended, settling in for her home-away-from-home.

I remember how much she loved the Ropes activity, and took it every year as a camper, both terms. I often laughed wondering if it ever got old, but it never seemed to get old to her!

She also excelled in Drama, often landing supporting roles, and putting all her heart and energy into those parts, even if it wasn’t a lead role.

Wild World was another favorite activity of Natalie’s, and honestly – ANY activity she took, she put her whole self into it, adding so much love and energy that you, too, couldn’t help but love the activity if you were in it with Natalie.

Natalie was recognized as a camper with a few big awards – the Reveler Award for excellence in Drama in 2015, as well as in 2013 for leadership in Ropes. And in 2015 she was also recognized with our Senior Friendliest Camper award. That was a big summer for her as she also took the 2015 Hazel Mines Golden Hopper Award.

As a camper Natalie was full of fun, energy, antics, and silliness, but also was welcoming, inclusive, and wanted everyone at camp to feel they were a meaningful part of ‘Ghany. I sense that her unspoken goal was for everyone to love camp just as much as she did.

She returned in 2016 as a Junior Counselor (JC), and continued as a counselor for several summers after that, taking on Head of Unit 2, and then moving up with those same campers as Head of Unit 3 and then again Head of Unit 4 / Start-up Mom.

As a counselor, I saw tremendous personal growth in her, and the same energy she had as a Junior Camper simply never left her. At the same time, her desire to include new campers and staff, welcome them, and help them love camp as much as she did just grew as she grew. So many counselors shared memories of their first summers at Alleghany and how Natalie was the one who brought them into the fold. Natalie greeted them, Natalie made them feel welcomed, included, loved… Natalie showed them how to love camp, and made it easy because her love for camp was so pronounced!

I Remembers…

Here are just a few quotes from former campers and counselors to illustrate these points. Each paragraph is a new quote:

I’ll never forget how we met: her breaking the ice for me my first summer. I remember her grabbing me by the hand on my first day and introducing me to campers tent by tent. My fear of making friends so far from home was immediately gone. Her kindness lives in our hearts forever.

Natalie loved camp and others fiercely. I cannot think of her without remembering her massive smile and kind nature. She was always so willing to help those around her and shared her passion for Alleghany with me from my first summer at camp. I took canoeing with her every year and was always impressed by her determination. I’ll cherish the time I got to spend with her forever

My first year of camp in 2010 I was 8 years old and momentarily hesitant to go out and make new friends. Then I saw Natalie leading a group of girls in a game, making everyone feel welcome and like they already had a friend, whether she knew them or not. It was in this moment, and all thanks to Natalie even at such a young age, that I fell in love with camp

Natalie was truly the epitome of a Ghany girl. She spread joy and laughter wherever she went with her stories and her passion and love for camp. She always made me feel at home with her.

Natalie had the most amazing way of making everyone around her feel loved and appreciated. Her energy for helping those around her was unmatched.

Natalie’s presence defines so many of my camp memories, even 8 years later. In particular I remember a day in Ropes when our group was tasked with completing a team obstacle course silently. Natalie, usually talkative and buzzing with energy, shone as a leader with her mere presence, even without speaking. She was welcoming to everyone at Ghany and I know her memory will live on with each person whose life she touched there.

Natalie embodied the true spirit of what it means to be a Ghany girl. A friend to all, jumping in without being asked, living with honor and integrity and always with a smile on her face. Natalie was always excited to be back at camp and there will forever be a hole without her there. We love you, Nat! We are all better humans for knowing you.

Natalie protected the spirit of the camp SO well. She never wavered in making sure everything maintained the happy, fun, camp spirit we all know and love. It was an honor to grow up alongside her and work with her.

In 2020 Natalie was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, and she fought a fierce fight, as only Natalie would. She never wavered in her positive spirit, and was still always looking out for others, even toward the end. She passed away on March 23, leaving behind a legacy of love and joy, a million fond and touching memories, and lots of smiles and laughter.

Events for Natalie

‘Ghany Girls near and far have grieved together this tragic loss, and have come together through phone calls, texts, and even a Zoom call to share memories and feelings. Natalie was so memorable and so loved, that it feels like a huge hole has been left in our ‘Ghany community. We’re planning to honor Natalie in a few different ways this summer at camp, so please stay tuned for that.

Natalie’s memorial service and celebration will take place on April 30th at her family’s property in Greenbrier County. Anyone from the camp community is welcome, and can contact Natalie’s sister Catherine for more details at or 304-520-1206.

We’ll also be honoring Natalie this Wednesday, March 30th, all day long with Lights for Natalie. Natalie was such a bright light in everyone’s life at camp, so we want to honor her and her memory by lighting a candle on Wednesday. It can take place at any time, just take a moment to light a candle (a camp candle if you have one!) and snap a photo of it to post on social media. Tag @campalleghany and #LightsforNatalie. Feel free to post favorite pictures of Natalie, and continue to post any favorite memories you’d like to share. Let’s light up social media with our honoring of Natalie!

Donate in Natalie’s Name

Natalie’s family has also asked that donations to Camp Alleghany’s Lantern Scholarship Fund be made in her name. Click here to access information on how to donate to the fund in Natalie’s name.

I’ll end this post with one of the comments on social media that really sums up who Natalie was at camp….

Natalie embodied the true spirit of what it means to be a Ghany girl. A friend to all, jumping in without being asked, living with honor and integrity and always with a smile on her face. Natalie was always excited to be back at camp and there will forever be a hole without her there. We love you, Nat! We are all better humans for knowing you.

In ‘Ghany Love,

— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls