As Spring is now in full swing and the weather is starting to warm up, I find myself thinking about Camp Alleghany daily. The smell of fresh cut grass and everyone at school enjoying outdoor activities brings up many memories from the years I spent as a camper on the Greenbrier River.
I live just outside of Richmond, Virginia and go to school at James Madison University (JMU) in Harrisonburg, which is in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghenies. This means I have a very similar drive to get to school as I did when going to camp.
When I was driving back to JMU after Easter this year, I so enjoyed the view of the mountains that I found myself comparing it to the trip I made to camp for so many summers, watching the beautiful landscape unfold as I headed to my favorite place on earth, my “home away from home.”
While this gorgeous weather and getting to be outside again has me relating many of my current daily activities to life at camp, nothing will ever truly compare to the amazing summers I spent in the mountains along the river with all of my favorite people.
All My Memories, Gather ‘Round Her
I’ve been coming to Alleghany since I was about seven-years-old. I’ve experienced so much growth over that time, spurred by returning to a familiar place, yet taking on new opportunities as I moved through my different ages and age groups.
Throughout the years, I’ve been to Mini Camp, both sessions of Term Camp, and all summer as a counselor.
I’m so grateful for my summers as a camper, and wouldn’t trade them for the world. But in all honesty, being a counselor was even better!
As a counselor, I still got to enjoy all of the fun activities I did as a camper, but I also had the privilege of watching my campers experience the camp setting, the activities, and camp culture, and grow into beautiful young girls and women. I was able to be a part of all age groups as a counselor and build friendships with other staff members.
During my time as a counselor, I had many leadership opportunities, such as leading activities, planning events, and caring for campers, among other little projects that came up.
I’ve been able to use these leadership experiences in multiple jobs interviews and every employer was impressed with examples that came from my work at camp. Being a camp counselor is a very unique experience, making you stand out — every employer loves to see it on a resumé!
I also had the unique privilege of enjoying the outdoors for eight whole weeks when I worked as a counselor. In this tech-heavy world, that is such a restorative and even transformative experience. I had a whole new and more empowered relationship to technology simply from being largely free from it!
We often get so caught up in school, work, and life in general that we forget to take the time to take care of ourselves and enjoy the sunshine. In today’s world, we’re also on our phones constantly. While it can be fun to scroll through social media occasionally, it’s important not to let it consume our lives. Young girls are horribly affected by social media, primarily because of the unrealistic standards it creates.
One of my favorite parts about being a camper was that we didn’t have any technology. It was so refreshing to live in the moment with my friends. Whenever there was down time or a moment of silence, it would be filled with deep conversations or laughter. So many people are missing out on this in “the real world.”
And young women of counselor working age need this reset, too!
This summer, Camp Alleghany is introducing a “fully connected” culture for counselors. In the past, counselors were allowed to have their phones at night during their Free Time. Now the focus is on using the time to really rediscover yourself in relationship to yourself, and to others. Counselors will have access to phones and other tech on days off.
Even though this is a new approach (or an old one if you put it in context to history), I know this will be so beneficial to everyone, and in the end, very much appreciated.
Counselors will be able to return to the same worry-free environment as campers (and as counselors of the past), and everyone will be able to live in the moment better, form more meaningful connections with others, with campers, with nature, and with themselves.
Take This Opportunity!
Even though I won’t be at ‘Ghany this summer myself 🙁 , I’m thrilled to know this summer will so positively nurture so many people, especially after a year of lock down (and let’s admit it, of way too much tech!).
I dream of those crisp and starry nights in tents with ‘Ghany Girls, laughing at sleepy jokes with a cool breeze coming through the tent flaps while catching a glimpse of the moon and stars.
I look forward to returning to ‘Ghany in future summers and value all of the ones I’ve already spent in my home away from home.
I strongly encourage any young woman to join our team of counselors this summer and create so many lifelong memories. Are you listening? Ghany’s calling you! [APPLY HERE}
Apply now to have the most memorable and rewarding summer ever!
— Haley McClelland, Alum and Staff Recruiting Intern, Camp Alleghany for Girls