The Alleghany Rattler: Our Treasure Trove of Testimonies

Decades of Alleghany Rattlers.

One of the most fun things we decided to do for our year-long celebration of our 100th anniversary was to curate articles from our old Alleghany Rattler newspapers and post them once weekly as a Throwback Thursday blog.

We started doing this early last fall. Each week I pour through the old articles and find something interesting, fun, funny, compelling, historical — whatever — and we get it typed up and formatted as a blog. If you’ve missed them, don’t worry, the ones we’ve posted are archived online.

Once we reached 1971-72, we began positing Rattler articles that planned for, commented on, or looked back at the 50th anniversary of Camp Alleghany.

All the old Rattlers touch my heart. They can be such a hoot, or reveal something about our camp history that I find amazing, such as camp life during World War II, or when a guest speaker came to talk about their unique life path, or the fun antics that campers and counselors got up to in the past when making Evening Activities or a special outing.

But in these last few weeks, where we’ve specifically looked at the 50th anniversary, and heard so many reflections by so many thoughtful former ‘Ghany Girls (and male staff, too), I’ve seen again and again just how relevant the observations about camp, and the feelings and sentiments people have for camp, still are today.

No matter the decade, the role a person had, how recently or long ago they were at camp, there seem to be such consistent threads that those who know Alleghany touch upon. There’s nearly a universal recognition of the benefits of coming to camp, the deep friendships made, the magical feelings of wonder and connection, the confidence gained, and so much more.

It’s in Me, It’s in You

As a lifelong ‘Ghany Girl myself, tied to this camp by both lived experience and my family’s ownership and stewardship of it,  I find it deeply moving and very emotional for me to read through these testaments from the ages and see that what we do today at camp, what we talk about when we muse on camp today, what we experience, is the living legacy of these former years and attendees.

And I swell with pride because I know we have done something rare and meaningful. We did it! We’ve kept the tradition and spirit and love and magic alive at Alleghany for 100 years, as rich today as it was in 1922 and 1972 and every year beyond and in between.

It’s humbling to recognize. It’s joyful to feel. It’s affirming to draw on this as we move forward into our next 100 years.

So I wanted to share a few quotes from some of these articles in just a little round-up to share that ‘Ghany Love with you. These small quotes, at first glance just words, truly do create a deep connection between today’s Alleghany girls and the ones of the past.

It makes me think that if a group of campers from today had the chance to speak to a group of campers from the 40s or 50s or 70s, they’d have many of the same stories, display the same confidence, nod and wink at each other with the same ‘Ghany magic to share.

Below are a few passages that really struck me. They could have been written today and still ring absolutely true:

“In fact the greatness of Alleghany for me was in her counselors and her campers. It is true that the setting is magnificent, but in those years I doubt if one could have found a better staff of campers anywhere. We had a tremendous spirit that affected our lives and gave us many memories that I am sure continue to warm many of our hearts today.

Cary Carter, Alumnae (at Ghany 1936-1941), Written in 1971

“Some of the physical aspects of Alleghany have changed through the years, but the traditions, goals, and spirit of the camp will last as long as ‘Ghany exists. The campers are as proud and aware of this as are any of us.

Alleghany embodies both tradition and progress, taking the best of each and molding it into the unique summer experience we have all known at one time or another. It looks to the future while cherishing the past. In a time when everyone is clamoring for peace, loyalty, and brotherhood, Alleghany is a place where such ideals come closest to realization.

Alleghany fulfills a personal need within each individual — camper and counselor alike. Here, more than anywhere else, one is able to know others free of extraneous details. At the same time, one is called upon to get to know herself and to develop her own potential. Alleghany is a challenge as well as a promise, and both will continue to live on within each of us even when we have left the banks of the Greenbrier far behind.”

Molly Rardin, Alumnae, written in 1972

And I know you’ll love this, as I did:

The Spirit of Alleghany

“It’s hard to describe the spirit of Alleghany without sounding trite to those who have felt it or vague to those who haven’t. When something is felt and shared by many people, it can best be described in silent understanding rather than in awkward description. You can’t love Alleghany until you’ve lived it, and the living there is wonderfully unique. It is unique because of about two hundred people there and hundreds who have been there who love it.

Any place that has love in its foundation has a head start on other places.

Alleghany is a world in itself that teaches a great many things and makes it easier to face the other world with a little more confidence. You can be what you want, think what you want and feel secure in a friend’s understanding.

The spirit of Alleghany is many things — it is learning new things, it is Vesper Hill, it is a team song — it is anything you want it to be however and whenever you want it.
Someone who loves Alleghany once said that anyone who is creative and keeps her individuality will find that any place she is will be the most wonderful place in the world. It’s easy to feel that way at

Alleghany. Once you’ve experienced ‘Ghany it will be easier to feel that way wherever you go. Above all, Alleghany has many doors to welcome you back. And you will return realizing that you’re not escaping from life, but learning how to live it.”

— Kitty Hutcheson, Alumnae, written in 1971

Our 100th Summer

I look forward to this summer so much. The honor and privilege to be at a 100 year old camp sits with me every day, especially in a time when so much is defined by trendiness, short-lived connections, manipulative algorithms, and distractions.

Here we can absolutely know that we have a “home base.” Each of us can have our spiritual connection to the land, the river, the big sky, the soaring mountains, the dappled sunlight, the earthy scents, and the chirps of crickets and hoots of owls.

We can each find ourselves through our own inner quests, camp goals, activities, age group opportunities, and the reality of being away from home for a spell.

We can each find ourselves with and through others in the best friendships of our lives and through living in close quarters with others for a little stint.

We can each have our heart stirred by moving camp songs, by watching others share perspectives in Vesper moments or a group conversation.

We can laugh so hard we didn’t know that much laughter was possible. And we can feel the tide of togetherness in an assembly, chant, performance, special event, or random happening.

When I’m at camp this summer not one second will be taken for granted. I know I stand in a line that stretches 100 years back to when that first ‘Ghany Girl crossed the river on the Barge and made a platform tent her home for part of the summer.

In addition to everything else camp gives us, in addition to all the deep nurturing, there is this security that I am a part of this. There’s a place for me here. There’s a place for you here. There’s a place for every ‘Ghany Girl who’s ever been a ‘Ghany Girl here.

I hope you’ll be here this summer* so that you will be a part of this treasure that lives through the century right into the heart of every one of us.

In ‘Ghany Love,

— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls

*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download my FREE e-book, 3 Reasons to Begin Your Child’s Sleepaway Summer Camp Experience Early. It’s a great resource to share with friends, or if you are a first-time camp family and you wonder what sleepaway camp would be like for your child. Come join us!