After a l-o-n-g and trying Spring on multiple fronts — our country and world facing this unprecedented pandemic, everyone on quarantine, the kids out of school, worrying about what would happen to camp and then having to cancel all our camp programs just when kids needed them most — it sure was a relief and a very sweet (and also bittersweet) homecoming to be back at camp last Saturday to set up for our alternative camp offering this summer, Family Retreats. (You can read more about Family Retreats in a blog post I wrote earlier this summer.)
It’s a skeleton crew who is here for this summer because Family Retreats is a socially-distanced camp vacation opportunity with a much different focus than our typical Family Camp (countdown to Summer 2021 anyone?) The folks who are here are our Administrative Team, the Facilities Crew, two nannies for the kids of our Admin Team, and a lifeguard.
Together we’re setting up camp for those who are coming to our six sessions of Family Retreats beginning July 26th. This means a special focus on the extra requirements to support and ensure social distancing, extra sanitization, and compliance with state regulations.
And, quite thankfully and fortunately, in between work we’re also enjoying this amazing place, our little slice of paradise, the sweet joys of the Camp Alleghany for Girls grounds as well as the majestic background of forests and mountains stretching for miles up to the glorious sky, the river wending its way through, and birdsong and cricket chirps on the breeze!
But back to the work part for a minute.
Our first goal was to set up the Camp Office in a new building that was in the works last fall — our brand new multi-purpose building. Moving desks, equipment, and paperwork in went faster than we thought and the new office is coming together nicely. We still have a few things to put away and lots of tools and office gadgetry and even some nostalgic camp decor to hang on our (many) walls.
After that we tackled what is going to be the new Camp Infirmary.
Ever the recyclers, the old Camp Office is being transformed into the new Infirmary! For now that meant clearing out the old office (see above!) and emptying out the old Infirmary by hauling all of its supplies, beds, cabinets, equipment, linens and everything else up the hill and over to the “old office.”
We have a wonderful team of trusty medical professionals with us every summer and they know what works best for how they work, what Infirmary visitors need, and how to do their jobs most efficiently. So we’re letting them set up the finished Infirmary!
As a side note, the old Infirmary will now be…a multi-purpose office space for the counselors! It will house a Head Counselor Office, Media Team Office (for our staff photographers), and equipment for the Photography/Videography department. It will also double as a meeting room for counselors when needed. (It goes without saying that we can’t wait for #summer2021 to give this new space a whirl!)
Making A Sweet Spot for Families
With all hands on deck for the Facilities Team, in other parts of camp we’re specifically getting ready for our Family Retreats. The platform tents are up and being furnished, the grass is being mowed, canoes are being brought out of storage and double checked, the Dining Hall is being tidied, and the Bath Houses are being set up for assigned family and family unit use (see the Family Retreats blog and Family Retreats page), among other details.
We’ll also be setting up the brand new Camp Store for Family Retreats attendees to get some limited supplies. Enjoy this photo gallery of our prep time this summer (with some sneak peeks of the interior of our new office!):
Since camp is, as you know, a place with almost 100 years under its belt, and the many buildings that support each summer’s gaggle of girls, we’re also using this unique time to go through everything in camp and purge, declutter, and reorganize.
There are a lot of buildings at camp and things just pile up. Typically, summers are so busy just getting ready for and then managing the thousands of details needed to run camp, and after camp we’re focused on winter storage and returning to our homes and off-season lives, that we don’t prioritize a top to bottom review of everything under the sun.
Although we’d much rather have ‘Ghany filled right now with hundreds of happy girls camping it up, we’re trying to use this unusual time wisely. We feel like this is the time to do it, while we’re here but without the many pressing daily duties of running a normal summer. I’m trying to look on the bright side in this regard, and make some lemonade from the lemons! I’m sure camp will be the better for our taking the time for this camp-wide house cleaning.
Ready For You and Your Family’s Retreat
Even though we’re working hard right now, it’s been refreshing and restorative to be here at camp. This truly is our “happy place.” Watching my kids run and play in this spectacular setting brings me to a place of deep gratitude and humility.
For myself personally, and as a camp professional readying my space for a modified program, I know that each day’s early morning walk all alone is deeply restorative. I think, I pray, I plan, I listen to nature, and I’m silent, alive to the glories of the natural world and all that it offers us. And my cup is refilled — I’m ready for another day to mother, to plan, to lead, to collaborate, to work.
Here at camp I can have a meeting with Garrett O’Dell, our Facilities Head, or with the Admin Team, or with our nannies, with soaring trees and a sparkling river as a backdrop. I dine in the open air of the Dining Hall, or have a picnic, and I feel in my bones how important this time is for me, my family, and our extended “camp family” — all those who are working towards and for our upcoming Family Retreats.
All of the others who are here have shared similar feelings of how deeply renewing and nourishing it is to be at camp, on our beautiful grounds, enjoying the weather, the atmosphere, the river, and each other. In fact, here are our counselors/nannies Emily, Megan, and Rei in their own words inviting you to Family Retreats:
And on the note of us working together and your family coming here, I’d like to add that all of our staff are COVID-19 tested and are acting as a “family” together in that we are working closely with one another to make the Family Retreats a reality. All of our staff have to test negative for COVID-19, and they have.
Join Us for the Best Summer in the Craziest Times
While one of our sessions has filled entirely we still have space for you and your family unit to come to one of our 3-day, 4-day, and 7-day Family Retreats sessions.
Please read our blog and our Family Retreats page/FAQ for full details about social distancing and sanitization, food, the river, activities and more. I’m confident you’ll be pleasantly surprised at all you and your family can do in a fresh open air environment, with open air dining, and measures in place to further support a healthy, happy family getaway.
If you have any questions about Family retreats, please reach out — we’d love to talk to you.
Or you can Book Your Family Retreat now.
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls