Every year around this time the Head Counselors and select staff and administrative team members come together for a Spring Planning Retreat. It’s a great time to get together in person to reflect on any further thoughts concerning last camp season and to look ahead with focus and enthusiasm to the summer ahead.
My parents — Sam and Bonnie — always host the event in their home, a happy gathering that everyone looks forward to. But last year their house in Fredericksburg was on the market so I volunteered to host the weekend so they could keep their home looking nice for potential buyers.
Well…now that they’ve finally settled in their new Staunton home, Mom and Dad were very excited to host the retreat again.
We usually hold this meeting in April, but with Baby Shreckhise due in April we all thought we’d be better off getting together a bit earlier this time.
Now that the planning weekend is over — even though I still have plenty of tasks to accomplish before camp — I’d actually feel ok if Baby comes early since the planning weekend has gotten us all mapped out for the months ahead as we…COUNTDOWN TO CAMP!
The little things
One fairly silly and simple thing that I was very much looking forward to this year was my parents’ HUGE new dining room table. It is SO big that it had PLENTY of room for all of us to sit around comfortably with our binders — almost with room to spare!
It’s this kind of thing that makes us appreciate the small and silly stuff because boy was it easier to spread out, glance around, find things quickly and take in the big picture of all camp’s pieces and parts.
Everyone arrived Friday evening in time for dinner. My mom cooked a great spaghetti meal, and my husband Matt and son Mason came over to join us. All of us had a wonderful time catching up and socializing during dinner — the mood was really excited and buoyant.
In attendance for the fun (and formalities) were Whitney Kiper, Head of Junior Camp; Liza Stace, Head of Senior Camp; Carlee Pennypacker, Assistant Head of Senior Camp / Upstart Mom; Dana Sparks, Junior Counselor Mom (JC Mom); and Sarah Gleberman, Head of the Waterfront.
Also on hand were Taylor Fellows, Program Director; Beth-Anne (BA) Clark-Thomas, Mini Camp Director; myself; and my parents Sam Dawson, Camp Alleghany Director; and Bonnie Dawson, Head of Special Events.
Our crowd sure showed a lot of commitment — BA drove from Ohio and Liza flew in from Providence, Rhode Island!
But Sarah (affectionately known at camp as “Gleebs”) is the winner for the longest trip — she flew in from Stanford, all the way from Palo Alto, California!
No time to waste
We launched in to work right after dinner, staying at it until about 10pm.
Usually I enjoy staying the night and continuing to spend time with the girls after the work is done (grown up slumber parties are fun, especially with camp friends). But the fact that I now only live a mile from my parents — and that I am hugely pregnant — suggested that it made more sense for me to go home and get a good night’s rest. 🙂
Yet, up and smiling with the sun, we started again with a working breakfast the next morning.
All of our time was used so efficiently and effectively, though we did it all with such fun — what a delight it is to work with this team!
We did a LOT of planning for the summer (whether calendar-wise, communication ideas, programmatically, in collaboration, or in strategizing, etc), made some decisions, talked about new things in store for the summer, and did some truly creative brainstorming.
As is customary for us, we also did some fun teamwork games. I love this stuff for the bonding it creates, as well as allowing each individual — and the team — to grow in our professional and personal lives.
Taylor and I introduced our themes for the summer for staff (used for staff training and throughout the summer for morale and focus), and did a few activities with the group as a teaser toward what’s to come.
We loved watching Sam totally get into the activities we planned. He showed some very admirable enthusiasm!
The weekend really was nonstop work with very few breaks, planning away and making lots of decision. And based on what we’ve come up with — I’m not spilling the beans…yet — everyone should get excited for what an awesome summer we have in store!!!
Much to my delight we had rising JC (and Staunton local) Chloë Cook come over to babysit Mason for the evening out. She brought her guitar to play for him — which he LOVES — so I hope she brings it back to camp again this year! 🙂
Good-by for now
It’s always sad on Sunday when everyone heads out — but also exciting because of how much we planned and how fun it will be to implement all our ideas for the summer.
This kind of weekend makes us want to have summer right now! RIGHT NOW! 🙂
Our consolation — only this many days until camp!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls