Passing on the Gift - Alumna Blog

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:

  • Canoeing the Nantahala with Dr. Jones and Sweetie! I can only imagine the liability insurance it would require to get our group down those falls these days, but what an amazing 5-day adventure each year!
  • Flipping my first kayak past the bridge with Anne Daniel. Years before that, it was riding the old, rusty bus out to our double-swim period each day at Lake Edith and getting our ear drops on the way back. I do NOT remember lathering up in sunscreen every day, but those were the days that, even at home, it was sun until your burned, then treat with solar cane afterwards!
  • Libby’s participation in Morning Assembly and the Me-Me Bird story at Council Fire. To this day, I have the words of “Come Thou Fount” memorized (my kids don’t understand why I cry when I sing this hymn!) We sang “Holy, Holy, Holy” at our wedding - we had to include a Greystone hymn! “To God be the Glory” stretches the widest grin across my face, but there are few lyrics I can mutter as I fight back tears of joy and memories of church at camp.
  • Having my birthday at camp the 6 years I was a main camper and then a CIT was far better than ANY other birthday. Greystone girls sure do know how to make you feel loved.
  • DMC – We did not call them “DMCs” in the ‘80’s and ‘90’s, but none the less, they were the very best part of my camping years. I have notes in my Bible from Elizabeth Madden, Ainsley Fisher and Mary Ann Scheu. I have scriptures dated from summers that they spoke to me.
  • Working in the kitchen! I believe my crew was the inaugural camper kitchen staff. Because 5 weeks of Main camp wasn’t enough, we talked Jim & Libby (or maybe Laura) into letting a handful of us come early to work in the kitchen during June Camp. I think my husband thinks that all of our parents were trying to get rid of us for the summer, but I don’t think he gets that we were all begging to go! I was THRILLED to wash dishes or chop onions just to be in the mountains, hear those songs, go water skiing, and be in THAT place with THOSE people.
  • Not surprisingly, our crew was the first (and maybe only?? Not sure) CIT group. We told Laura that we simply couldn’t stay away from camp for a summer so they may as well just figure out something to do with us on staff even if too young to have a cabin of girls. Was that the summer I joyfully mucked stalls just to be there?
  • BANQUET!! Need I say more?!? Although I did always find it a bit cruel to build us up SO very much that last night just to send us home hours later. And our poor parents! I always remember being happy to hug my Mom and tell her a few quick stories, then promptly wishing she would get back in the car and leave me there another month or two.

Even with these memories, what I remember feeling the most was secure.

I have never been as comfortable in my own skin, confident, and sure of who I was as I was every day at Greystone.

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.”

What an incredible gift.

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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.”

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