I often tell people that my Greystone experiences have had the single most influential impact on my life of anything.
I was blessed to be able to attend camp for 12 years from age 7 – 18, with five incredible summers at Main Camp. A group of us weren’t satisfied with only 5 weeks at camp, so we somehow negotiated ourselves onto the Kitchen Crew for June camp so we could be at Greystone 3 more weeks! And of course, we didn’t like any part of the “Skip Year” that we were supposed to take, so we talked staff into creating a CIT program.
It sounds crazy to people that haven’t experienced Greystone. They assume I didn’t come from a loving family or that my parents wanted me out of the house. But none of that is true (well, maybe I should check with my parents on the latter!). It was because we wanted to live in the “Greystone Bubble” every possible second we could.
Oh, and we had fun! Played games. Paddled canoes. Shot bows and rifles. Dressed funny. Saluted the country. We were footloose and fancy free.
Some of my favorite Greystone memories include:
Even with these memories, what I remember feeling the most was secure.
As incredible as my last summers were as a senior camper, I couldn’t wait to come back as a counselor and dreamed of managing my way to year-round staff. Where else would I rather work? Being human however, I was prone to wander, and did not make it back to Greystone until the 2016 Alumnae Reunion. I returned alone, not knowing who would be there. I returned intimidated. And I was immediately filled with the Holy Spirit. I was immediately among friends. I was immediately happy, so incredibly happy and at peace.
“My wayward children,” says the LORD, “come back to me, and I will heal your wayward hearts.” Jeremiah 3:22
My one and only baby girl is off to Greystone this August for the first time. She won’t even be 7 yet and this was NEVER the plan, but God opened doors I could not have imagined and here we are.
I’m doing my best to prepare her by singing songs, humming taps, and showing her pictures online. While I attended at her age, it was after seeing two older sisters go for several years and with my twin sister there, too. Clearly a different scenario.
My Margaret has just the personality for camp and she will eat up every bit of its goodness, but I must admit that I’m green with envy for she will feel unconditional love all day and learn how to really love Jesus.
She will learn to live in the 4-fold way and she will hear the Me-Me bird story first hand. As speaker and author Jill Briscoe proclaims, she will learn to “let Jesus sit on the steps of (her) soul.”
To finish, no truer words express my sentiment than my 1995 Toast to the Spirit of Greystone:
“It’s the Spirit of Greystone I’d like to recognize, This year her toast might be a surprise. (Twin sister Emily Ferguson now joined me) ‘Cause I’m here, too, to share from my heart, An aspect of Greystone, the most special part.
To the Spirit of Greystone we give our last toasts, She’s the greatest part of amp, the one we cherish most. And just like Annie’s locket she’s key to me and you, On this Banquet night we honor her for you.
This unique part of camp is shown through traditions, From Captains and Lieutenants and team competition. To the 4th of July and the Blue Grass Fest, These are the memories, some of the best!
The Spirit of this place has moved into our thoughts, It’s made our thinking crowded as we have fought, To become Christ-like girls and follow the way, Of Greystone’s secret, each and every day.
The secret of her Spirit is unselfishness we know, Daily we strive as we learn and we grow. The Honor Council Pledge will always be our proof, That the way to go is Sincerity, Courage, Honesty, Kindness and Truth.
Greystone’s emphasis on inner qualities, Is what encourages campers to “Be all they can be!” From Council Fire tappings to the fancy Queen’s Ball, The Spirit of Greystone shines brightly through all.
The friends we’ve made here will always be, More true than any, as you are to me. We know our friends here will always be on call, Because “we’ll be there for them, when their rain starts to fall!”
Like all things at camp this toast must end, But the Spirit of Greystone will live in our friends. And as we drive through the gate, tomorrow we’ll shout, Through all the tears, the sun will still come out.”