What’s it Like to be a First-Time Counselor at Greystone?

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This time of year is peak staff application season for us, and here in Tuxedo, we are busy talking to prospective counselors, reading applications, and doing happy dances every time we hire a new staff member for our 2023 team. It really is so much fun!

But who makes up our staff team, and where do those counselors come from? While many of our counselors were previous Greystone campers, every year some of our best staff members come to camp for the very first time for Orientation. No matter if you grew up at Greystone or have never heard of a “Tentalow” before, we always say that working on staff is a brand-new experience. We are all on the same team as we come together to love and serve our campers in the Bubble!

But what is it like to be a first-time counselor? We asked two 2022 staff members who would know best: Ellie and Sophie Jane. They both came to Greystone for the first time in 2022, and were co-counselors as well!

Do you know someone who is new to Greystone, but would be a perfect fit for our staff? Share this post with them to give them a peek at what could be waiting for them this summer in Tuxedo!

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How did you first find out about Greystone?

“I first found out about Greystone through two of my very best friends, Catharine Williams and Chase Beeby, who were long-time campers and were also counselors last summer with me! They told me it is such a magical place and that I would be the perfect fit even though I was never a camper, so I decided to apply for the best summer job ever!” - Ellie

“I first found out about Greystone from my friend, Evan Browne. I told her I was looking for something to do in the summer, and she told me how much she loved being a camper at Greystone and that I should for sure apply.”- Sophie Jane

What convinced you to apply?

“Before submitting my application, I spent many hours looking at the Greystone website, which is full of advice, stories, and videos from summers past! Seeing the girls work so hard in their classes by putting themselves out of their comfort zone in the videos inspired me to get out of my comfort zone and work somewhere I have never been before. I also loved reading comments former counselors have made about their close relationships they had with campers. Like them, I wanted to be someone my campers could look up to and be a support system to remind them of all the beautiful gifts God gave them!” - Ellie

“At the same time as it was time to apply for summer jobs, I had grown a lot in my faith. I had decided to gotten more involved in my church, developed a more personal relationship with the Lord, and was looking for a way that I could serve Him. Camp Greystone sounded like the most fun job ever, a chance to serve Him, and of course the pictures I had seen of camp looked beautiful. After looking at the camp website and hearing so many great things about camp, I knew it was where I wanted to spend my summer.” - Sophie Jane

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How did you feel before the summer?

“Honestly, I was REALLY nervous. In a sense, going into staff Orientation reminded me of my freshman orientation at UGA. I did not know anyone at all besides my two friends from college, and I really did not know what I was getting into. I knew Greystone was a summer camp with fun classes, but I certainly underestimated the power of love, friendship, and support that makes it so special. The spirit of Greystone was so apparent from the moment I walked into the Fort on the first day of staff Orientation, and it immediately erased all my nerves since I could tell I was already so loved by head staff and other counselors.” - Ellie

“Before the summer, I was so excited but very nervous. After all, I did not know a single person there and had never been there in my life. However, camp made it so easy for me to get to know other counselors before the summer started. I was also a little nervous because I am definitely not the loudest person in the room, and I thought that I would have to be an energetic, excited camp counselor 24/7. It turned out that I could just be myself. I love that there are so many different kinds of people working at camp - a fact that the head staff talked about on many occasions.

Still, despite all the nervousness, I was so excited. I got to take a summer to spend in beautiful Camp Greystone, without my phone, not worrying about anything in the outside world (I honestly had no idea what gas prices were until August), not worrying about what I was wearing, not worrying about what I looked like, worshipping Jesus, playing with campers, playing with other counselors, and being weird.” - Sophie Jane

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What was the summer like for you? Was there anything that surprised you about being on staff?

Summer 2022 was the best summer of my life, and I really cannot put into words how special it was for me. I made some of my best friends in the whole world during orientation week who continue to make me laugh everyday from many miles away. I continued to make best friends through the sessions who I know will always love and support me to be the best person I can be. My cabins TU12 and TL2 will forever hold a huge piece of my heart, and I was so blessed to have the best co-counselor in the world.

I was challenged to continue pouring love on all of my campers and other counselors, no matter how exhausted I felt. I also grew my relationship with the Lord, and it was so amazing to be a part of helping the campers do the same. In the heat of the summer, the job can feel daunting, but the feeling you have on Closing Day is unbeatable as you learn so much about yourself, how much you can accomplish, and how much you can impact the lives of the girls.” - Ellie

“It turned out to be the best summer ever. I loved morning runs, I loved Morning Assembly, the food (!!! so good !!!), peaceful Sundays, Dining Hall songs, Banquet, Evening Programs, teaching painting classes, cabin life, and grew to love so many new friends and campers.

I also had no idea how much I would love all of the campers in my cabin or my co counselor Ellie. Another thing that I was surprised about at camp was how supported the counselors are. Not only was I constantly encouraged by my peers, but the head staff was constantly making sure that we felt taken care of and if there was anything we needed. Not to mention, the training week before camp prepared us so well for the summer.

I was also surprised that I was never afraid. I am somebody that is so scared of the dark, but I always felt so safe at camp. I am that person that sleeps with the light on at home, but at camp, I stayed in a cabin by myself in between sessions and enjoyed it. It is so peaceful and beautiful there, it feels like heaven on earth.” - Sophie Jane

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What was your favorite part about being a counselor?

There were so many amazing things about being a counselor, but I would have to say that the best part for me was teaching dance. Getting to teach campers from 7 years old to 17 years old with a variety of dance experience was SO much fun because I got to witness firsthand how much they can accomplish when they get out of their comfort zone and try something new! I also loved learning from them; the girls were all so creative and talented, so it was really cool to see the final product on Production Night. In my classes, I had many of my younger girls who continued to practice well into their free period in the cabin, and I had older girls who I loved working with during club period! It was so cool to get to know each and every girl while helping them achieve their goals!” - Ellie

My favorite part of being a counselor was the friendships that I made. Both campers and counselors showed me what it looks like to love others and love the Lord. I saw how others took time out of their day to pray and to do devotion and it inspired me to do the same. I also just loved being in the woods. I miss going to sleep and feeling the fresh air coming through the screen and knowing that all the campers are happily sleeping soundly after a long day.” - Sophie Jane

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What would you tell someone thinking about being on staff who has never been to Greystone before?

Get out of your comfort zone, try something new, and introduce yourself to every single other counselor there! Yes, many of the counselors already know each other and were once campers, but they are some of the kindest and most welcoming people ever who want to get to know YOU. You’ll meet some of your very best friends this summer who will continue to love and support you during the school year. Also, the spirit of Greystone is so special and will have you leaving the summer a better person than before. You will grow immensely and will forever impact the lives of the campers. There really isn’t a better reward than that!” - Ellie

Greystone changed my life in the best way possible. For somebody that is wondering if they should go to camp, I say do it! I was a little nervous, but it was the best thing ever.” - Sophie Jane

Anything else you want to add?

“Of course, it is so important to always pour love on the girls and counselors around you, but being goofy is a huge part of this summer too! The laughs you are going to have are incomparable. Who knows, maybe you’ll officiate a sock wedding on the dock of Lake Edith, chase your campers with pieces of a banana dripping down your face, or have a glow in the dark dance party in the Pavilion. In other words, this will definitely be the best summer of your life.” - Ellie

“I had no idea that I would make so many great friends, grow in my faith so much, fall in love with a place this much, and see the world so much differently. I learned so much at camp that I feel so prepared to go into my student teaching in the spring. Camp taught me that I can do hard things and have so much fun at the same time.” - Sophie Jane