Countdown to the 100th: the 1980s

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It is hard to believe we are nearing the end of our countdown to our 100th summer and have already reached the 1980s! I bet there are many of you out there who were campers in the 1980s and could confidently say that it was such a great time to be a camper. I always love hearing when our 1980s alums get together and start talking about the “good ‘ole days” - and they are right! Camp began its long (and continual) process of updating its facilities in the 1980s, and many new traditions began during this time period, traditions that are beloved by campers today. Let’s jump into this fabulous camp decade!

Facility Renovations

Jim and Libby began a ten-year facility renovation plan in the 1980s in an effort to stay competitive with other camps. Greystone had not updated many of its buildings since the 1940s, with many of camp’s buildings really showing their age. Some of the biggest building and facility renovations included:

  • New docks built on Lake Summit across from Greystone’s main entrance.
  • Track and soccer field added.
  • Gymnasium built for 65th-anniversary.
  • Swimming pool built.
  • Greystone Barn was purposefully burned to make way for a new Barn, which included thirty-six stalls, large tack room, and living quarters for the grooms.

Main Camp Reduces Length

In the 1980s, Main camp dropped from a seven week camp to a six week camp. With the addition of the June and August Camps in the late 1970s and the lengthening of the school calendar, this change became necessary in order to fit all of the sessions into the summer timeframe.

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Staff and Leadership Expands

With the addition of two additional sessions and the rise in camper enrollements at each session, Greystone’s leadership team really strengthened during this time period:

  • In 1984, Katie Miller came on as camp’s Assistant Director, joining her parents Jim and Libby in a leadership role.
  • Rounding out the leadership team were Perry White, Elaine Taylor, Anna Bryan Perry Sisk, and Smith Houts. Each helped in specific ways to kick off Greystone’s shorter sessions while also refining the Main Camp experience when a week was dropped off the session length.
  • In 1984, Libby added Group Leaders to the leadership team for the first time. With camp’s growing numbers, these staff members helped oversee groups of cabins, as Libby could no longer oversee everything herself.
  • Greystone’s counselor staff expanded in the 1980s as well. Going from 60 counselors on staff in the 1970s to 100 in the 1980s, Greystone had to find spaces to house an “out of cabin” staff. This staff lived in Deep Country, on the Back Porch, and in smaller cabins on camp’s property.
  • The Men Staff really grew in strength and numbers during the 1980s. The tennis department became especially strong with the leadership of David Vining, Bill Taylor, JO Spengler, Scott Wray, and Scott Cunningham.
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Coucil Fire Torch

At the very first Main Camp Council Fire during the summer of 1981, Virginia Hanna officially passed the Council Fire torch to her daughter Libby, challenging her to lead Gryestone with the same spiritual strength that was seen in her grandfather, Dr. Sevier, when he founded Greystone in 1920.

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Water Fun

During the 1980s, girls loved water activities at camp.

  • Under the leadership of Harriett Harris, the canoeing department was one of Greystone’s most popular activities during this decade. Girls loved taking river trips, paddling down local whitewater rivers like the Nantahala. Campers would spend years working towards passing levels and earning patches, including paddling for specific distances (i.e. the 50 mile patch).
  • In 1986, skiing moved to Lake Keowee, and campers loved this day-trip with their friends.
  • With the building of the pool in 1988, the swimming bus was officially retired; however, the Synchronized Swimming program became more popular with the pool addition.
  • In the early 1980s, the popular class of Advanced Diving was finally phased out, due to declining interest.

Traditions and Big Events

65th Anniversary

Celebrating the 65th Anniversary in 1984, alumnae returned to camp, seeing the newly built gymnasium that was dedicated to Virginia Sevier Hanna.


In 1985, Jim started the Mountain Stumblers club soon after the track had been built. He encouraged girls to get moving and to focus on the Physical aspect of the 4-fold philosophy.

5 Year

In 1985, Katie Miller Grant started the 5 Year Celebration, a time to honor all of those campers who had attended Greystone for 5 years or more, with at least 3 of those at Main Camp.

Breakfast Club

While Breakfast Club started in the 1970s, the official Breakfast Club Song was written in 1989. Jim loved sharing his words of encouragement, followed by a short joke.

Amy Grant Concert

Campers were in for a surprise when they walked down to the lake after Closing Vespers in 1982. Amy Grant was waiting for the girls and performed a special concert just for them. Even after many years, alumnae often mention this as one of their favorite camp memories.

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You may have been a 1980s camper if you remember:

  • Watching the wedding of Princess Diana and Prince Charles.
  • Enjoying the Men Staff’s “more than a box” skit.
  • Being hosed down by fire trucks during a summer drought.
  • Dancing with Falling Creek.
  • Singing the song Friends are Friends Forever.
  • Sitting in the crowd during Godspell in 1980, with Kathy Scott playing Jesus.
  • Watching old Wimbeldon tennis videos in tennis class when it rained.
  • Having to get alcohol ear drops after swimming.
  • Spending days away from camp for the Thunderhead overnights.
  • Being surprised when the Odds and Evens tied in 1983 with a score of 4185 to 4185.

Mrs. Hanna Dies in 1988

After 40 years of leadership, Virginia Sevier Hanna passed away in 1988. This marked the end of Greystone’s second generation of leadership and the loss of a remarkable woman, one whose leadership steered Greystone to the prospering seen in the 1980s. To honor her wonderful legacy, Greystone began awarding the Honor Council Cup at Banquet.

1980s Alums, what did we forget about this great decade? Comment below!