The Joys of First Term at Camp for 2021

Editor’s Note: Mae Dandridge gamely stepped into the role of Head Counselor of Senior Camp when our hiree, V, was unable to travel from England due to border restrictions.  Not only has V expressed her sorrow at missing a summer at ‘Ghany, but we also missed her tremendously. Thank you to Mae for stepping in at the last minute to fill this important role.

The Joys of First Term at Camp for 2021

After spending the majority of our year behind closed doors, the campers and counselors of First Term couldn’t have been more excited to get back outdoors and under the stars at Camp Alleghany for Girls! (Also read my blog post about our 2nd Annual Mother-Daughter Weekend held earlier this summer.) 

With all the hustle and bustle of Term Camp Opening Day, our campers quickly settled in and enjoyed the first night of camp together. I walked by Tent Row to say good night to everyone, listening to the fits of laughter of friends catching up with each other, amazed I was able to be back in my favorite place despite the year’s craziness.

Due to our COVID-related regulations, things looked just a little bit different this year. But in the end it was still the same summer camp we all know and love. In fact, we were able to spend even more time outdoors this year, enjoying all our meals outside during the first week. The girls sat in circles with their age group cohorts (called Pods for this first week), the older ones listening to music and making friendship bracelets, the youngest starting a highly regarded arm-wrestling tournament which took place at every meal under the Apple Tree.

It was such a privilege to see the girls making the most out of their time at camp, regardless of the changes that we needed to implement to ensure their safety.


This year, during the first week of camp, we travelled from activity to activity in our Pods and had the opportunity to try each of the activities that Alleghany has to offer. The week sped by as the campers tried things they had never even thought of checking out before.

This also allowed all of the girls to be absolutely sure about what activities they wanted to take for the remaining two weeks. From climbing the Bouldering Wall to taking to the stage in the Play Hall, campers experienced all of our activities for the first time in camp history!

Friendly Competition

At our first Blue/Gray competition of the summer, new campers were sorted into their fate-decided color (the only thing missing is The Sorting Hat). Returning campers gleefully welcomed the new girls to their beloved teams and got right down to business.

My favorite competition to watch (and participate in) was our Blue/Gray Amazing Race Relay. Many of the stations were hilarious to watch but the “Chicken Waddle” station particularly caught my eye. Girls had to race and run around a hula hoop while holding a football between their legs — sounds easy, looks quite weird, and is super difficult to execute. Watching the campers come up with the most refined technique through the rounds was incredibly intense and a wonderfully uproarious way to spend part of the evening!

The Art of the Possible

The Arts & Crafts, Drama, and Dance Shows were all mind-blowing, each of which made me cry tears — I was feeling the way that a parent must, watching their children grow up.

The Art Show displayed homemade fairy gardens, clay keychains, and personal collages that truly represented all of the girls and their artistic ability.

The Drama Show started off with a heartwarming rendition of the Frog and Toad Series, followed by monologues and duets expertly performed by the senior campers.

And the Dance Show also brought down the house, with the theme being “The 2000s.” Let’s just say it left the floor covered with glitter.

It was such an affirmation of all we do at ‘Ghany to watch the girls get excited to present art or perform onstage and seeing them beam with pride after their efforts.

My Pleasure!

As a Head Counselor this year, it’s such an honor to play a mentoring and guiding role in the lives of so many young girls. Having been in their position myself for many years, as a camper looking up to the counselors, I realized how much of an impact counselors can have on young, impressionable girls at different stages of their self-development.

I went to bed every night proud of the work that I was doing. In the morning the girls would greet me with a smile, a hug, and a wild story, like of a tentmate falling out of the tent!

Day after day, my job continued to be only more rewarding, watching the growth of the campers as individuals, and as age-cohorts, and as a camp “family.”

I have to admit that coming back home and lying in my apartment after a hot shower was definitely nice. But at the same time it left me with a sense of emptiness that I can’t quite explain.

I may not miss the bugs flying around my camp cot, or the consistent wetness of my tennis shoes, but I absolutely miss the people.

The girls who surround us at camp — from the youngest Mini Camper to the oldest Counselor — are  each unique and unforgettable. These kids, teens, colleagues, and friends fill our lives with a type of light that just might be indescribable to those who have never come to this camp, or any camp (but mostly this camp! 🙂 ).

As for me? I can’t picture any summer more rewarding than the summer of 2021 back at ‘Ghany — a summer of adaptations, of some stifling hot days, of contagious laughter and giant nighttime campfires, of great friends, and unforgettable days on the Greenbrier River!

Maybe you’ll be with us next time….for our 100th summer next year!

— Mae Dandridge, Alumna, Co-Head of Mother-Daughter Weekend, First Term Head Counselor, Camp Alleghany for Girls 

*If you want to learn more about the merits of sleepaway summer camp, download ‘Ghany Director Elizabeth Shreckhise’s 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!