After almost 100 years of being a camp, you can bet that while some things about Opening Day remain constant, routine, and expected, each year still brings its own surprises. This year the surprise was our beloved Greenbrier River flexing its muscles a bit!
Take me to the river
Toward the end of Mini Camp we had some rain up river and started to see the river rise. But by the last night of Mini Camp, there was significant rainfall up river that caused the river in our location to rise even more. Whenever we get river rise here it’s because of this upriver phenomenon. If it were only about rainfall here at camp there would never be an issue. But of course we can’t control the rain upriver and so it goes…
We’ve seen this before and are old hands at dealing with it so we moved into action by e-mailing Mini Camp parents to let them know they wouldn’t be able to come into camp to pick up the girls on this side of the river on Closing Day. That was so disappointing, because we love welcoming the families into camp!
The Camp Alleghany barge was still usable, as the river had not risen high enough yet to stop using it. We knew the river was rising slowly, so we were more than able to safely get the Mini Campers out on closing day in small groups using the barge.
Take me to the river, again
So we waved our last goodbyes for now to the Mini Campers and lo the skies opened up that night again upriver which lead the river to rise yet again!
Back to e-mail we went to let the parents of incoming 1st Term campers know that our opening day procedures would be modified, and to expect delays.
By this point it wasn’t safe to use the barge (this has happened before, rarely — what an adventure!). But we have a motor boat and our facilities manager Garrett O’Dell is certified to operate it on our behalf.
In actuality, by the time 1st Term campers had arrived, the river had actually crested and was falling, but we still made the call that it was a little too high for barge use.
We put lifeguards on each bank and a lifeguard in the boat, and queued groups of around six life jacket-clad campers at a time with their duffels in the motor boat.
Parents were informed by e-mail the day before to pack a couple days worth of clothing in the duffel, as we knew we wouldn’t be able to bring the trunks in that day. Mother Nature was calling the shots and we were all adapting to her changing course, an essential ‘Ghany Girl skill!
The trunks were stored on the parking lot side of the river. Fortunately Junior Camp trunks came into camp on Monday, and Senior Camp’s on Tuesday, so there wasn’t too much of a wait.
We typically take tent pictures on Monday, but we delayed that until this Saturday because many campers had costumes, outfits, or props in their trunks that they wanted to use for the tent pictures.
The downside to our unique opening day challenges was that the campers had to wait in a very long line to get in the boat and cross the river. That’s so hard to do when you’re so anxious to get here, find your tent, see your friends, and plunge in to camp life! Ah patience, a camp virtue!
However, we had unbelievably gloriously gorgeous weather for this process (a blessing), and there were many reunions and friendships formed during that long wait on the other side of the river.
Our hope was that since parents were informed ahead of time via e-mail, that they would anticipate the delay and it would make for a bit more tolerable of a wait.
To our delights, that’s what happened. Spirits remained high all day, and our staff had a wonderfully efficient, focused, and very safe system down and it went off without a hitch — we were actually still able to get all campers into camp by 4:15! Once inside, camp life went on as usual like nothing was different!
A great team
Our staff worked so professionally together and the parents were so understanding and flexible. In spite of not being ideal, we’re proud that everything worked out so well!
But should I have expected anything different? Of course not! ‘Ghany Girls — staff (Green Team, too) and campers — always find a way and have a positive attitude.
Since our safety measures and procedures are tried and true, and we followed the river rise protocol, things worked out very well. Had that river rise been more drastic, or a lightning storm on deck at the time, we would never have brought campers in. Luckily our challenges were just enough to sharpen that ‘Ghany Girl grit without being so much that we had to postpone arrivals.
And now we’re here and you can stay tuned for more — we have plenty of fun stories to share on the blog!
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls