First of all, thank you for being such great camp parents. We do not take you for granted, especially those of you who are new to Greystone. There are always a lot of new camp families at August Camp but this year we had more than usual. New camp families often do not “get” camp (which we admit is a very strange place) and sometimes they don’t just relax into the comfortable assumption that their girls are having a great time. You have not had this problem… on the contrary, you are SUPER encouraging to both your camper and to the staff. We have never gotten so many thank you emails from so many new families. You are wonderful and we are grateful.
I wrote a blog that celebrated Dad’s last month. Only a few of you had campers at Main Camp, so I will copy some of that blog now for the rest of you… for it resonates. This was one of the most popular blogs of the summer, I think it is worth putting out there again for it is in the same spirit of gratitude for the work you are doing as parents. This has been a difficult time to be a parent. The challenges have required significant effort from both mom and dad. The challenges have been met and we see that fact very clearly at camp. Your girls radiate joy and confidence… you should know that you have done a great job.
I think we should particularly recognize the role played by the fathers of our campers. It started in the fall with a lot of emails and phone calls from Dads wanting to know the details of our Covid plan. This interest did not drop off once you decided to come to camp. We had lots of check-ins and encouragement from parents and that support continues to this day. This year we have heard from more Dads than ever… we couldn’t be more delighted with the trend.
Dads play an important role in family life that is often overlooked or minimized. We men take refuge in this protective shell of low expectations, allowing our wives to deal with the emotionally charged and confusing details of family life while we focus our energies on the more manageable responsibilities outside of the home.
I get it. I am one of you.
Despite being a camp director, I was not a meaningful part of the many details my children’s activities. I never volunteered as an assistant in a classroom nor did I attend many parent/teacher conferences or doctor’s appointments (allowing Dr. Margaret to represent seemed the smart choice at the time). I never packed them for camp, didn’t know their shoe sizes, and was happily a participant rather than a leader in a lot of things that they did. Margaret was better at EVERYTHING and the entire family knew it… I got a pass. It never bothered me… till now. You Greystone Dads have brought me low!
This has been the year of the Dad at Greystone. More calls, emails, and letters from dads than ever before. This initially made us nervous because dad’s never called unless things were really bad… and they didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking, they just wanted to “fix” things. They would manage the conversation like a business deal, intending a quick “win-win” compromise. Achieving their goals through force of will.
This year our dads contacted us in a more normal way about every little thing camp-related. They called to clarify policies, give suggestions, question details, fill out forms, make cabin requests, and many made long trips to drop off or pick up from camp. We couldn’t be more pleased. Dads are great! Their engagement inspired me and almost made me wish I had a “do-over” middle schooler so I could try again!
A Sovereign God who orders all things for the good was certainly doing REALLY good things through this crisis. They might be hard to see, but given time they would certainly be celebrated. So I think it is time to celebrate our fathers who have taken this opportunity to really step up!
We bring it up because of a wonderful letter that came in the mail back in June. The following is a long excerpt from that letter…
We’ve never met and honestly I don’t know if we ever will. I learned a long time ago from a mentor, who has since passed, that when someone does something special or deserves thanks - you hand write a note in a blue fountain pen. This is the first note I’ve ever written to a stranger in that fashion.
I read all blogs from this year’s June Session, I can’t say I cared that much in years past but this year was different. I don’t know if it was Covid or missing the girls a little more, but I was more engaged. I must be about as annoyed as a father can be leading up to camp, I live in a house with three Greystone Girls and it consumes our house and life. They talk about it all year and look forward to the time but the hub-bub before they go is just too much at times. It gets to the point where sometimes the wonder and excitement leads to worry, I then wonder why is it worth it? But this year I now know why… the blogs took me to a place that I can’t ever go and on most days moved me to tears. I don’t know if it is your passion for the girls, your family business, the mystique of the Smokies, doing God’s work, or what, but I cried almost every day. I’ll tell you that I’m an emotional person but not a crier. I think it’s knowing that someone would make their life about making girls like mine feel special about who they are and what they can become.
I’d imagine you don’t get tired of being told thank you for that? So today is the final day of June Camp and I read the blog that compelled me to writhe this letter. I personally want to say thank you from one father to another. I can’t wait for both of them to come home and tell me about their favorite meals or activities. Sometimes it’s fun to hear about the drama of camp too - I think that makes them better too.
With Deepest Regards,
PS. I often call you John Boy at home and it drives all the girls including their mother nuts! I promise you I know what I’m doing.
I just love that letter. I wrote him back that same day, with a fountain pen in green ink and my sincerest gratitude. I hope all of you Dads recognize and celebrate the role that you played in your family this year. God is doing good things.
Today we tested to assure that there is no COVID at camp. We tested at all of our longer sessions this year and are glad that we did. The health and safety recommendations for camps in a Covid world are well thought through and have been proven to work. There have been no outbreaks in camps that follow these guidelines, and that has proven true at Greystone as well.
Our testing system is quick and easy, we treated it like a party and the girls entered into the spirit of the moment like they always do. It took exactly 10 minutes and was nothing but fun. We gathered for flag and everyone who needed a saliva test did so as a cabin group. We played music and dismissed each cabin as they finished… then the cabin got a big box of fresh donuts as they walked to the FORT. Dr. Margaret did a great job organizing everything, the Group Leaders assisted, the Nurses gathered the samples, and the testing company picked everything up and rushed to the lab (Community Labs is local, so the testing will be done within 24 hours). If there is any news we will tell you… but know that no news is good news! We are praying! This is the last big challenge of August Camp, we are sure God will continue to bless.
Thanks again for reading.