Opening Day from a Parent Perspective - New Camper Blog Series

First arrive 1.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

If you ask a group of children what their favorite, most anticipated morning of the year is, the majority would answer, “Christmas morning!”

If you ask a group of Greystone girls what their favorite, most anticipated morning of the year is, they would hands down all yell, “Opening Day!!”

Opening Day is the highlight of the year for my girls, and they start counting down to next year’s Opening Day when they get in the car on Closing Day. Opening Day is a whirlwind of fun that can be very overwhelming your first year!

Opening Day starts with the arrival…when should you arrive?

Junior and Augusts campers:

  • The pressure is off this year for these campers! Your bunk will be assigned for you, and there is no need to race up the hill to pick out the “perfect bunk” (though something tells me the girls will still want to race up the hill to meet their counselor and their cabinmates).
  • Younger campers who have a hard time waiting, I would arrive around 8:00 a.m. This should allow plenty of time to park, unload your bags, and wait to head up the hill. One year we arrived shortly after the gates opened and it was a very long wait for our seven year old. The wait made her more anxious than necessary. Now a seasoned camper, she wants to arrive when the gates open, but her first year, the wait was a bit overwhelming.

June and Main campers:

  • This year, new campers will be allowed to go up to their cabins before the “big run” at 8:30 a.m. I would arrive at camp close to when the gates open or shortly thereafter to allow time to unload and find out where you need to be. Greystone has Opening Day running like a well-oiled machine, but the line to park can slow you down. There will be a lot of seasoned campers (especially at Main Camp) eager to see their camp friends after a long year apart. They don’t mind the long wait before running up to their cabins, because they spend the time reuniting with old friends!

After you arrive, park and unload your car, everyone waits in the field below the Pavilion. There will be an Opening Day Tent which usually has fun camp stickers and a much needed cup of coffee for the parents.

  • If your camper is nervous about Opening Day, make a plan to meet up with her Penpal that morning at the Opening Day Tent. Better yet, try to get them together the day before Opening Day if travel plans allow for it. Last year, I sent my contact information in one of Frances’ letters to her Penpal’s mom. We were able to correspond via emails after that and made plans to get the girls together the day before drop off. It was Frances’ fourth summer at camp, but her first session without her sister there. Frances loved getting to meet Makenzie before the craziness of Opening Day, and they instantly became BFFs. Opening Day was much less intimidating for Frances with her new BFF by her side.
  • Added bonus for me during the session, I had another camp mom to text, call, and email about the worries of being a mom of a camper. My girls are in the minority in our area going to summer camp for longer than one week. It was a Godsend to have Mackenzie’s mom Kristen to chat with while Frances was away having the time of her life!

At 8:30 a.m. on the dot, the ropes are lowered and the campers are free to run to their cabins. I have learned it is best to let them race up there, and I follow slowly behind carrying any loose items they may have. However, new campers may feel more comfortable walking up with their parents so they know where to go.

2016 dsc 3887.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
2015 counselor.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1
2015 counsleor.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

Once you arrive at your cabin, my biggest tips are:

  • Be flexible. The first year we had drop off with two campers, both girls wanted me to unpack them first. I had to remind them that we cannot control when their bags and trunks arrive at their cabin. And sometimes, they arrive when your bunkmate is in the middle of unpacking her trunk and there is no room for your trunk. If unpacking is not possible at that moment, work on your schedule or go for a quick tour of camp while you wait. Better yet, make your way to the Dining Hall porch for some yummy scones! There will be plenty of time to get your camper settled before it is time to say goodbye.
  • If you have more than one camper or have to bring a younger sibling to Opening Day, bring another adult family member to help! My husband is usually in charge of our son, Robert, while I divide my time unpacking the girls. One summer, my mom came along for the ride. She unpacked Charlotte while I unpacked Frances (and kept an eye on Robert). We really needed a third adult that summer!

Junior Campers will pre-schedule, so the only thing you will need to do is help unpack your camper. For all other sessions, your daughter can start looking over the schedule once she is unpacked. Your daughter’s counselor will have a few paper copies of the Master Schedule and can help your daughter with any scheduling needs. The Master Schedule will have all the classes and when they are offered, sorted by date {M, W, F or T, TH, Sat} and time {1st period, 2nd period, and so on}.

  • There is a lot going on Opening Morning, so I have my girls go over the list of activities before camp and write down the ones they want to take. The list is not set in stone, but it helps reduce the stress when making the schedule.
  • My girls love it when they have classes with their cabinmates. If your daughter would too, have your daughter ask around her cabin to see who is taking which classes while you are unpacking.
  • Once we get the Master Schedule from their counselor, we start arranging activities based on when they are offered, trying to group together the ones that are located near each other. It is a shifting puzzle piece, so use a pencil!
  • For all campers, have the counselor review your daughter’s schedule to make sure her classes are not spread out all over camp. Frances’ first year at June Camp, her M, W, F schedule had her bouncing from one side of camp to the other. She was “always late for class” and “so exhausted” on those days. Older campers might not have issues going from Glass Fusion across camp to High Adventure, but my younger camper struggled.
  • Do not stress if your daughter’s schedule is not complete or “perfect.” There is plenty of time the rest of Opening Day for her to get it just right with the help of her counselor or Group Leader.
Bunk run 1.jpg?ixlib=rails 2.1

The last most important piece of advice I have learned over the years is to save those DMCs {that’s camp lingo for Deep Meaningful Conversations} with your daughter for the night before or have it a few days in advance. The morning of Opening Day is a flurry of activity, and it is best for your daughter to be swept up in the tide of fun and roll into the Camp Groove rather than her be thinking of the amount of time she will be away from home. Of course get one more hug and kiss, but I have found that keeping goodbyes short and sweet help ease their nerves about being away from home.

I was a camper for six summers and a counselor one year at Greystone, and leaving part of my heart there for any length of time is never easy. It has gotten easier over the years knowing how much they love being at camp, but I am still an emotional mess walking back to my car every year. I have had drop offs when both girls were crying because I was leaving, and most recently ones where they couldn’t wait for me to leave. Neither is easy on the heart! But I take comfort knowing that their time at Greystone is the best gift I can give my daughters. It has helped them grow in God’s Grace, gain confidence in who they are in Him, and has given them friendships that will last a lifetime. And I don’t know how Jimboy does it, but he truly makes each passing summer the best summer ever!