For those of you who have seen our “old” video, you’ll know that it was a lot of fun to make and was wonderful to show to potential new campers and their families, as well as long time ‘Ghany Girls. But a couple of years ago we decided we needed a new video.
As you can imagine, telling the Camp Alleghany story is dear to our hearts and we really wanted to get it right — you know, to think through what best told our story and to find the best person or crew to film for us, someone who we felt understood and apreciated our camp.
This kind of thing is (and was) a process.
First we talked to a videographer at the American Camp Association Conference in Denver back in 2010. There were a lot of logistics to work out and I was newly pregnant with Mason at the time. I ended up deciding that between sorting out all the details and being several months pregnant when our video would be shot that summer, that maybe it was best to let it wait a year.
We are so glad we did.
Worth the wait
In January of 2011 my dad and I attended the one-day ACA Virginias Conference in Front Royal, Virginia at the Northern Virginia 4-H center. This is a smaller conference with a few educational sessions, plus a small number of vendors. There we met Tor Ramsey who attended as a vendor for his company Summer Camp Reels.
Our friend and fellow camp director Diane Tyrell, of Camp Motorsport, had hired Tor the previous year and couldn’t sing his praises enough! She raved about how easy he was to work with and how he really just “got” the camp and was able to put the whole feeling of the camp in a few minutes of a video. She was thrilled with the final product.
Dad and I talked to him at the conference and kept in touch, and a few months later we were on our way to planning our new video.
Discovering how to tell our story anew
Part of any marketing endeavor includes looking around for comparable businesses to see how they did what you’re trying to do. It’s a way to see the market, gauge what works and what doesn’t, and find your own style amidst it all.
Well, in my research I found another girls’ camp video online and loved how it captured so much of what the camp stood for. The camp was similar to ours in tradition and style so it made a good comparison piece. I sent it to Tor and said “I want something like this,” hoping he would agree that it was a good direction. But when he replied, “I can beat that video in a New York minute,” all I could think was, “You’re hired!”
Hollywood on Greenbrier
Tor made three trips to camp last summer.
He spent a few days with us at Mini Camp and during the opening days of 1st term, visited again for several days of 2nd term, and returned for the closing days of 2nd term in to the first day of Family Camp.
During the days he raced around camp catching every moment. I don’t think I ever saw him sit down to eat — he was so focused on getting everything he could on film. I could see him moving on a dime to run across camp when he thought he might capture something special.
And he did!
Then, each night after filming, he would sit up at his computer in the Cottage diligently putting together clips from what he shot that day.
Not very quiet on the set
The exuberance of the ‘Ghany Girls meant that it was not “quiet on the set,” but that was a good thing — the campers were as at ease with the filming as Tor was with shooting.
One funny thing was that in the beginning the campers were so friendly to him that they would walk by while he was filming and say “Hi, Tor!” right to the camera. He told me that it was super nice of them be so open to him, but that this wasn’t a video about him; they should try to pretend he wasn’t there.
I went to Assembly the next day and made an announcement that I was so proud of the campers for being friendly and welcoming ‘Ghany Girls, but to only say “hi” to Tor when he wasn’t filming, and to try to pretend that he wasn’t there when he was filming.
That seemed to work :).
The clean cutting floor
At the end of the summer Tor told me that he usually goes through several drafts before getting the video perfect so I was prepared to send him several edits and revisions. But when he sent over the first “draft” — after collecting myself from crying the entire time — I couldn’t imagine changing anything about it! (In the end we did tweak a few things here and there, but it was practically perfect from the beginning).
In particular I love how many campers and staff are given a voice in this video. I’m also proud of the meaning and values imparted by B.A. and my dad during their part of the commentary. There’s also great information about the challenges in our canoeing and rifle program — among many, many other uniquely ‘Ghany things the video covers.
Tor captured everything that I couldn’t articulate on my own when I talked about camp. And everyone involved — campers, alumni, even brand new parents — have told me how moved they are by the new video. I’ve been waiting for something like this to help me express what Alleghany really means, and here it is! See for yourself here.
(And feel free to share the love by posting this on your Facebook pages and Twitter feeds).
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls