The mind is an amazing thing . . . I can’t tell you the name of my son’s science teacher, but I know the name, hometown, college and sorority of every camp counselor I ever had. I have no idea what I ate for breakfast yesterday - or if I ate breakfast yesterday - but I can taste every bite of a ham and apple Greystone breakfast with cheese grits and fluffy biscuits on the side.
As I hustle to get my people out the door and to school on time, more often than not, I get the same sinking feeling as I did when I was late to flag - stuck on the road - so close, yet so very far away. And every time I put fresh mulch in my yard, I am transported back to camp and missing the mix of mulch and mountain laurel and the sound of laughter wafting through tentalow row. Camp memories awaken the senses and create so many vivid images of precious childhood moments - true pictures taken by the heart.
So what has changed since 1980 something? Not much, but so much.
In my trunk - I had Umbros, not Lululemon; Laura Ashley, not Lily Pultizer; and a special Espirit outfit for the Falling Creek Square Dance. Yes, JimDaddy would bus in the boys for a night of romance and revelry on the tennis courts. Actually, we squealed and acted like we had never seen boys before because after all - a Greystone girl’s an angel in disguise.
The true success of the evening came about two days later when Falling Creek mail arrived and your name was called out in the dining hall to come pick up your mail. It was just like the final rose ceremony of the Bachelor. And yes, I still remember the name of the boy who wrote me. It must have been the “silver city pink” lipstick and baby blue eyeshadow that sealed the deal.
Modern day Greystone overnights are glamping - not camping. Back in the day, we had Thunderhead. Thunderhead was an old barn with a huge open hay loft. It was the most perfect place for an overnight in the history of forever complete with an outhouse just like the one in Little House on the Prairie - definitely not glamping.
One summer, the Greystone barn took several horses up to Thunderhead for a week and each riding class got to go for an overnight and trail ride. As an advanced rider, I went up with my posse at the beginning of the week and never came back. We talked Mama Jean into letting us stay on as “barn help”. We mucked stalls, bathed the horses in the nearby stream, and collapsed at night in the hay loft sleeping above the stall of our favorite camp horse.
I’ve never been so dirty and so happy in my entire life. Returning to camp after a week at Thunderhead required a long hot shower; however, those were few and far between. Back in the day - we had to walk up hill both ways to the shower house - located behind the dining hall where the fine arts building is today. It was always an ice cold shower. Always. There was no ensuite tentalow shower with an endless supply of hot water. As a matter of fact - there were only two toilets and two sinks for both upper and lower tentalows which made applying blue eyeshadow and “silver city pink” lipstick for dances quite a challenge.
The 80s saw lots of facility changes - most notably the pool. The Greystone swim docks where located on Lake Summit and a short bus ride away around the cove and over the bridge.
One summer - the old bridge was deemed unsafe for a bus full of girls to drive over so we would unload the bus on one end, walk across the bridge, and reload the bus on the other side. We made it a game - trying to beat our best time - no running of course. But alas, the swim docks closed and a fabulous pool was built.
New facilities brought bigger and better programs. The gym was state of the art, and while I was no gymnast, you would find me some afternoons in one of the dance studios - and while there was no hip-hop or Greystone groove - there was all that jazz!! After weeks of practice, I took to the Pavillion stage just like a Rockette performing to Lionel Richie’s - All Night Long. The bright lights and the roar of the crowd made it feel like my Broadway debut. It was epic or at least that’s how I remember it.
Falling Creek boys, campouts, and dancing on stage are big memories, but the little things come back just as clearly - and those things haven’t changed, and I hope they never will.
Catching lightening bugs on the way to crackers and milk, the sound of an afternoon rain shower on a tentalow tin roof, laughing so hard after taps that you get called down - not once, but twice, the sweet silence of vespers, and the glow of candles on Lake Edith.
My list of memories is endless, but in each and every one of them you will find a friendship - a sweet precious friendship that has lasted my whole life through. So many things in life change, but Greystone friendships never do. Greystone girls love each other and love camp as much today as they did yesterday. Reconnecting with Greystone friends has been one of my many blessings in recent years. It is magical - as if no time has passed - we pick up right where we left off - which was in the middle of laughter and joy.
My years as a camper are over, and I have replaced my silver city pink lipstick and blue eye shadow with something much more subtle, but a Greystone girl I will forever be. She lives inside of me, and every now and then, when she’s running late for carpool, she will play a little Lionel Richie, smile a great big smile, and savor the memories - Camp Greystone memories.