So here goes nothing!
The Family Camp Staff is a combination of alumni and Term Camp Staff who work during the Family Camp week. I’m one lucky lady to lead this specular group of men and women!
Each summer we have staff that return and new staff that join our team. It’s wonderful to have a combination of both. As a group, our common goal is to create an enjoyable week for Alleghany’s family campers. The Staff are such an important part as they help implement all of the fabulous activities that can be enjoyed at camp. They may lead a creeking trip one morning, help unpack a car when families arrive, run our Upper and Lower Riffle ranges, keep campers safe on the waterfront, as well as tell ghost stories around the campfire.
Not only are all the staff members uniquely talented, they’re also enthusiastic and the best cheerleaders for Alleghany. They come ready to work hard and to enjoy a week along the Greenbrier River with their family, and old and new friends.
I’m pretty sure that Family Camp is our favorite week of the entire summer…maybe the entire year! This amazing staff makes my job easier and I know that I can rely on every single one of them when I need a helping hand. I can’t thank them enough for all they do during this special week.
2. Family Campers
Family Camp wouldn’t be possible without campers and, in my personal opinion, Family Campers are the best!
This year as the new Head of Family Camp, I took on different responsibilities as the position was revamped so that the Family Camp Head and Assistant Head positions were rolled into one.
As you can imagine we have families that come to Family Camp year after year and others that our brand new. One aspect of my job that I found the most enjoyable was corresponding with all of the Campers over the winter and spring as they registered for their stay. As I greeted each and every family on Arrival Days during the week, it was so special to see old faces but to also put a new face with a name.
I love sharing Alleghany’s Family Camp with everyone but especially those new families. This summer we had 26 new families over the course of the week. Campers hear about our Family Camp through alumni, neighbors, school friends, and even reading an article in the Washington Post.
As a community living in a shared space, families quickly become friends with tent neighbors or the family who decided to join the morning hike. The children instantly include each other, and the GAGA pit is the place to hang out!
I loved walking through camp and hearing families greeting each other with handshakes and hugs alike and it was wonderful to eavesdrop on seasoned campers sharing the tricks and trades with the new.
The families of Family Camp make our week special and make me want to continue doing my job each summer!
3. New Activities
During the last several years when I was Assistant Head of Family Camp, my primary responsibility was programming. It was and still is one of my favorite parts of the job!
This year, I decided that we needed to introduce some new activities to our time-honored ones. Family Camp has always had memorable activities and this summer was no exception.
The first stand out new activity this summer was the River Float to Caldwell. The Greenbrier River is my favorite place in camp. It comes from the many summers of taking swimming as a camper, being a staff member of the Swimming Department and ultimately becoming Head of the Waterfront. Floating down the river is a fun pastime for campers during our Term Camp but also something that Family Campers adore as well. Typically, a float begins from the swim docks and ends at the barge. This summer, I thought, why not keep going? And that is what we did! During the week, we did two river floats. We got in at The Barge and floated about a mile down river. President Emeritus Sam Dawson and Facilities Director Garrett O’Dell were there to greet us as we reached the end to transport our floats and us back to camp. Both trips, had exceptional sunny weather and all had a fabulous time.
The second stand out activity of the week for me was the Family Camp Carnival that was held on Monday night. Drawing inspiration from both First and Second Terms during girls camp which have carnivals on July 4th and Christmas in July respectively, I knew these events would be a fun afternoon for family campers.
I wanted to have an Evening Activity that was a traditional campn activity but with a Family Camp twist!
With the help of my fabulous staff, this night was more than successful, and I was able to watch my vision come to life! The Carnival was a combination of long-established Term Camp stations like Face Painting, a Cake Walk, Donuts on a String, and Knock the Cans. And we added a few stations — Crazy Quarters, a Spin Art machine, and Radar Baseball. I think every single family camper tried to see how fast they could throw a baseball! It was definitely one of the many hits of the night!
To finish up the station, Travis the Balloon Dude, from Lynchburg, kept us in stitches with his comedy act as well as balloon creations. The best part of the night for me was watching everyone mill from station to station at their leisure, stopping along the way to talk to others, children running around with all of their balloon art and everyone simply enjoying the evening at their own pace.
5. DUTAT on Saturday Night
During Term Camp, on Thursdays, Alleghany has Lunch Under The Apple Tree (LUTAT ), and as mentioned before, during Family Camp, I like to bring traditional camp activities and make them apalrt of Family Camp.
Dinner Under The Apple Tree (DUTAT) has been a long-standing tradition of Family Camp for years and typically wraps up our week of being together. Our last night of camp, family campers gathered under the apple tree for a dinner and fellowship. The kitchen staff outdid themselves once again with a barbeque dinner with all the sides.
Once dinner was served, we lit the beautiful and warming campfire and gathered around it for s’mores! Way to go Chris and Chip, two of our staff members who helped stoke the fire and man the s’mores.
During the evening there was a craft table for the kids to make necklaces and binoculars, along with Corn Hole and Horseshoes for the adults. Our wonderful Camp Alleghany Alumni Association (CAAA) had a raffle that campers could also participate in with lots of donations as prizes. The raffle raised over $1400 for our camp enhancement projects.
But here is the reason why DUTAT on Saturday night was one of my favorite things:
I vividly remember playing a game of Corn Hole with my good friend Jeanette against Sam Dawson and his son Cooper (which they won, by the way). Between turns I was looking out across the field at the beautiful nature and everything that was going on. I was overcome with the feeling that this was what family camp is all about.
Everyone was together in one place with one common goal of fellowship and community. People were engaged in conversations with new friends and old, children were laughing and playing and eating more than their fair share of s’mores! It was a perfect night to end a perfect week.
Camp Alleghany had brought us all together whether it was your first time or you 25th time at Family Camp.
I’m busy planning and working on Family Camp for the summer of 2020! Family Camp is a year-round job for me as I work on hiring staff, programming, and all the fun activities that make our week special and dynamic. I just returned from Staunton and the winter office, where I met with Elizabeth, Program Director Casey Tucker and Office Manager Louise Dawson, as we wrapped up 2019 and brain-stormed about ideas for next year’s Family Camp.
I can hardly wait. I hope that you will join us!
— Stephanie Astley, Head of Family Camp, Camp Alleghany for Girls