In June 1983, I flew from New Orleans through Atlanta, where a Greystone alumna met us and helped us change planes, to Greenville/Spartanburg for 3-week camp. Thanks to the Dramamine I took for the trip, I slept on the 45-minute bus ride from the airport to camp. I awoke to a buzzing noise and the realization I had been stung by a wasp on my neck. Thus the Infirmary (the Health Hut name came later) was one of the first camp buildings I visited upon arrival at Camp Greystone!
Later that night, a bat visited Upper Tentalow 11. While one of the men staff came in with a broom to swat it outside, Libby came into our cabin to calm us down. I was pretty homesick that summer. I recall writing to my parents requesting to go home and receiving letters back (at least a week later) suggesting I hang in there for the whole session. Then on Closing Day, I cried because I didn’t want to leave camp.
A somewhat auspicious first impression left a lasting impression on my heart. I spent the next five summers at Main Camp, returned as a counselor for 2-week during my gap year, and then spent four more years as a counselor.
As a flyer, I always got last pick of bunks. Often this meant a bottom bunk where you could not sit up straight without hitting your head on the bottom of the top bunk.
I cherished the longer Sunday Rest Hours and didn’t mind writing letters to get into dinner, even if dinner was leftovers from the previous week.
On the bus ride to swim at Lake Summit, we’d ask HM what was for lunch or dinner, hoping to get the inside scoop. Speaking of scoops, do they still serve gutter sundaes? The food was not so good when I started but eventually got better. Now, the food is both delicious and healthy with no sign of bug juice!
But some of my most poignant memories and biggest takeaways from camp were from my time on the counselor staff. We were trained well to take care of the girls, nurtured spiritually, and taught to act professionally. We had tons of fun and developed special relationships with both campers and other counselors.
One of the questions I plan to ask when I get to Heaven is how in the world I ended up on the Archery Staff. As a camper, I had only passed black target. Thankfully Department Head Lil Wiley (now Marsh) taught me everything I needed to know to pass expert, with a recurved bow, way before Hunger Games made archery cool.
During my last summer in 1993, I had the privilege to serve on head staff as Transportation Director. While I planned to return as the Archery Department Head, JimDaddy called me a few days before counselor training was to start and asked if I was willing to step up and serve in a leadership role. How could I say no to JimDaddy?
I accepted his offer and flew up to camp the next day to get started. I learned how to drive and parallel park a 15-passenger van. I memorized the toll-free number for Delta Airlines, 1-800-221-1212, as I had to confirm each flyer’s trip by phone. I blew all the bugles, except Reveille, as each morning, the head staff met at Greygables at Reveille. After starting with a morning devotion, we discussed the schedule for the day, as well as situations with particular campers that warranted special attention or prayers. I was amazed to witness how aware Libby and Jim were of all that was going on at camp.
In graduate school, I wrote a paper for a leadership class about JimDaddy, comparing his leadership style to that of a track coach. The goal setting lessons he taught about “running the race set before us with endurance” have contributed to my successes in life. I shared the paper with him before he died, and after finally finding my copy, I’d like to share the toast I used to end the paper.
My track coach, O track coach, I stand here today. For the race of a lifetime, I’m well on my way. You were a great leader, by whose life I’m inspired. Your encouraging words keep me running when tired.
I listened, and practiced, and pondered in my heart, The ideas you have taught me, I used from the start. I followed your lead and ran fast when you said, So it’s no big surprise in this race I’m ahead.
As I begin to look around at the crowds down below, They are looking at me wondering where should they go. They soon start to follow as I race ‘round the track,With the lessons you taught me, I am leading the pack. As I shoot out of the starting block, so I dare not be late, I remember a slogan, this day sure is great!
Working in a Christian environment was a blessing I was unaware of at the time. I’ve spent my entire career in higher education, serving for 14 years at faith-based institutions. Yet, never have I been able to integrate my faith into my work as seamlessly as I did at camp.
During my time on Greystone staff, we didn’t have the distractions of social media, the internet, or even email. I treasure the opportunity I had to work amidst a backdrop of beautiful mountains, regular morning devotions and rest hours, and constant reminders that “to God be the glory”. I can hear Libby singing that line in my head!
My first Alumnae Great Day Weekend was in 2013, during a very dark time in my life. While trekking up Apple Hill, I sought advice from my former counselor Laura Meherg (now Teel). I expressed difficulty being patient waiting for God’s plan for my life to unfold. She responded, “God doesn’t give us patience, but rather opportunities to practice patience”.
I’ve passed along that advice numerous times since then. That weekend I sat on the Courage bench, asking God to give me the strength to make it through the tough times. God gave me strength and used that challenging time to prepare me for what was to come.
Greystone holds a very special place in my heart. I still consider how I am growing in the four-fold way. I try to make every day a “Great day!” I hope someday to be blessed with the chance to send a daughter to experience Greystone for herself.
Until then, by returning to camp for Alumnae Great Day Weekend, I can reconnect with some amazing women and support The Great Day Fund to help other girls run the race set before them. The alumnae reunions are a blessing that allow the spirit of Greystone to “stir up the gift of God that is in thee”.
If you haven’t yet attended, pack your bags and ask JimBoy the way to get to Greystone. Flyers, expect to make gate connections in Atlanta on your own!