At the end of the school year, I find myself explaining to my middle-aged, suburban friends what I’m doing over the summer during my break from teaching—why I won’t be around to meet for lunch or join them for a 4th of July cookout. “I’m going back to camp,” I say—“the same place I went as a girl.”
Or so it seemed.
Tapestry of memories
Over the last few weeks, it’s become clear that Alleghany is the same … only different.
It’s like the quilt you’ve made from the fabric of your childhood: the same swatches of color and experience, but now, spread across your bed, quite different. Or it’s like the image of yourself as you peer over the edge of the dock into the blue-green river. The reflection you know is you, but still a little foreign, mysterious. Or it’s like an echo from Vesper Hill, where girls’ voices ring in the mountains like they’ve done for 90 years, only now, with a new richness and depth.
So here’s what I mean … I was on the rifle range last week taking pictures, and I saw Kelsey—her feet were propped up, chair slightly tilted back. She was scoring a camper’s target. She turned her head toward me, and suddenly, Kelsey’s look was somehow not the same, but in the way memory often works, her expression had become that of her mother, Truitt.
Amanda has been my Hopper this week, and every time I heard her speak, Donna Deeks’ deep, resonant voice came back to me.
The Walsh sisters and the Berthel girls I’ve seen all around camp are like echoes, if you will, of their mothers/aunts, Becky and Lindsay, Debi and Pam, the sisters of my era. In Ella Baldwin’s eyes that narrow and cheeks that redden with joy when she smiles—I see her mother Betty. And Ann Claiborne’s three girls? Like fragments of ACE every time I turn around. These kinds of experiences have happened again and again this term … different girls, the same kinds of reflections from the past.
And there are moments every day when I’ve found Alleghany to be the same, yet different …
When I woke up this morning, it’s wasn’t to the squawking sound of the crow and Cooper’s booming voice; instead, it was the “snooze alarm” featuring Roy Orbison—one of Bonnie’s rock-n-roll favorites.
It’s a small world after all
At assembly, I was reminded that Alleghany is no longer the place where internationalism feels new, where it vaguely refers to a small group of counselors from overseas.
Now, more than 30 years since the first international counselors came to Alleghany, we have girls of all ages—campers and counselors alike–from Russia, Scotland, New Zealand, Venezuela, and elsewhere in the world. I see small town South Eastern girls like I once was referring to their “jumpers,” learning to belly dance, and practicing their Spanish. Alleghany is a place for making lifelong new friends in a greatly diverse world.
It’s the same, but different.
When I was 14, using Cooper’s old typewriter down in the Rat Hole, I typed a short article for the Rattler. Now, I’m officially a “blogger”—a new experience for me, and one I’m not sure I’m very comfortable with yet. Yet. Alleghany is reaching out to a social network generation, and I want to be a part of it.
Come back to Alleghany and you’ll see what I mean.
You’ll come to the apple tree—which really isn’t an apple tree, but now, a pair. The once dying tree is miraculously thriving, revived by the one planted not too long ago to replace it. The new and the old sustain one another. That’s what Alleghany is to me now.
You know, the same … yet wonderfully different.
–Harriet Mauck Regen, Alum, Staff