If you saw my recent post about our new blog Award Series, you’ll know that over the course of the year, we’re going to be highlighting the stories behind the various awards we give out at camp.*
I’m really excited to begin that process by sharing the stories behind our two achievement cups, the Sally Jaye Aydlett Holt Junior Achievement Cup, and the Cathi Hardester Senior Achievement Cup.
We’ll start with the Junior Achievement Cup this week, and do the Senior Cup next week.
As I mentioned in my series intro, some of our awards that are given in honor of former campers and other individuals, are named in honor of those who have passed away.
Sally Jaye Aydlett Holt is one of those persons who is no longer here with us physically, but whose spirit deeply touched her family, friends, and Camp Alleghany.
Remembering her is a touching and emotional experience, and yet the words her family had to share with me resonate with a joy and pride about her inimitable character.
Like mother, like daughter
Sally Jaye was a legacy camper, having followed her mother’s footsteps as a Ghany Girl.
She first came to camp in 1969 as a Family Camper. Her mother, Sally Aydlett, affectionately known at camp as Sally-O, recalls that,
She was nine years old and so excited to finally see this magical place she had heard so much about. She had grown up learning all the camp songs, traditions, activities, etc. from me!
So after coming one more time to Family Camp, Sally Jaye was a full-termer in 1971, and like her mom she was hooked. She came back to ‘Ghany for many subsequent summers as a camper and then a counselor.
When we look to honor a Junior or Senior camper for “achievement,” there are many ways we might do this. It could be a camper who set a challenging goal for herself and then met or exceeded it.
Or it could be a camper who just brought some unique facet to the camp experience which conveyed to others as a sense of “achievement.”
It’s one of those mysterious qualities that you know when you see it, but isn’t necessarily accompanied by a checklist that an award committee is ticking through to find the “winner.”
Partly palpable, partly mysterious, our achievement honorees have a spirit that we also saw in Sally Jaye.
But let me share some more words from her mother, Sally-O, who captures this spirit so well saying,
Sally Jaye never saw herself as an ‘achiever’ — she simply tackled everything that came her way as a problem-to-solve; an adventure-in-fun; or an opportunity to help/encourage someone. For example, if her job was to sweep the tent floor and sidewalk, it would be spotless and she would be having fun the entire time. If she found an activity challenging, she would simply try harder. If she was a Hopper and something went wrong, she would find a solution — quickly!! If a camper was having a bad moment, she would know what to say, or do, to make it better.
Without fail, these actions were invariably presented in Sally Jaye’s easy-going, laid-back way; never directly calling attention to herself. When she was around things just seemed more right.
Of course, these are those elusive qualities we look for in any Junior Camper when giving out the Achievement Cup.
And campers with this spirit aren’t just pouring it on for camp. We always find that such a spirit is simply in that camper’s nature, just as it was in Sally Jaye’s life.
This was our Sally Jaye both at camp and home. Her inner drive was to always do her best — this is what gave her satisfaction and inner peace. I often smile when I think of her excitement to receive “most-improved” dancer — she still wasn’t all that great, but had tried her very hardest to become great!!
Sally Jaye was not perfect; made her share of mistakes; but, she always looked for the good in everything and everyone – that was her greatest achievement.
Sally-O went on to say that, “I hope that each ‘Ghany Girl sees achievement, not so much about awards received, but as living each day to the best of her abilities — the accomplishments will follow…”
Loved all around
Another bit of insight about Sally Jaye came from her niece, Candie, a former camper and current Mini Camp Counselor. She fondly recalls that,
…to know Sally Jaye really was to love her. She was always fun-loving and happy-go-lucky.
As for the reason for her award being for achievement, there are many examples of things she ‘achieved’ in life. She never shied away from an obstacle, she ran through them.
Even when she was diagnosed with melanoma, the Sally Jaye I saw was headstrong and fought until there wasn’t any fight left to give.
Those from camp who knew her share these fond sentiments and we’re so happy to be able to remember her each year when we consider — and then give out — the Sally Jaye Aydlett Holt Junior Achievement Cup.
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls
* Editor’s Note: If anyone has information on the following people, please contact me via e-mail. I’d love to learn all I can about: Mary Ball Blackwell, Louise “Noodle” Daniel Kent, and Judith Greggie Smith.