Age Limits At Camp

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Occasionally a blog is helpful to answer a common question. One of the big ones we often get is why we do not allow older girls at shorter sessions. This is a reasonable question and might be on your mind when you contemplate a return to camp next summer.

Junior Camp cuts off at 4th grade (rising 5th graders), June at 7th (rising 8th graders), and August at 6th grade. Main Camp goes all the way to 11th grade (rising 12th graders)… a big difference! You might find it hard to fit other sessions into your busy summer plans; longer sessions just don’t work in your family. You wonder: Why can’t older girls come back to August Camp? If we already offer a camp session for all age groups, why the age limits?

We understand your perspective and want you to know that this is not an arbitrary policy. Our age limits come from our experience (what worked and what didn’t work in years past) and our commitment to doing the best we can for the girls’ growth. Age limits directly impact the camper experience, and each session’s limits have been set based on what works best in that particular camp. A little history is helpful here…

For about 50 years, Greystone offered only one session. Seven weeks, for grades 1-11. In 1973 we added a three-week session that parents considered a “starter camp”. The session proved very popular, and about ten years later we added a two week camp for grades 1-7. While the camp was doing well, it seldom filled until March or April. Campers liked camp, but they did not re-enroll in massive numbers. It was a very good camp that simply did not resonate as we knew it could. Something was off.

Believe it or not, a big part of the problem was the age composition of the camp community. At Main Camp, our oldest campers are rising 12th graders - SUPER COOL HIGH SCHOOL SENIORS who ABSOLUTELY LOVE CAMP in EVERY DETAIL! They enter into the silly fun of camp life savoring every detail: nightly devotions, Breakfast Clubs, Morning Assemblies, Activities big and small…they love it all. They are stunningly good campers who have literally grown up at camp. Their leadership sets the tone for the rest of our community.

The commitment to and passion for Greystone found in those campers develops consistently if given enough time. We have found that it works very well in a five-week session but goes off track with less time. For some reason, it doesn’t work. Camp is still really good, but it is not what the girls need, not what the girls want. June and August Camps used to have older girls, but we reduced our grade limits a long time ago in an attempt to make camp better… and it worked. Re-enrollment rates rose, surveys improved, and the Wait Lists started.

Rising 7th graders are incredible (some of my favorite campers!), but they need a bigger challenge. They want more intense teaching, more challenging projects, and more intense friendships. They need a little more time. Many of them are ready for Main Camp (even if they don’t know it!). They are just scratching the surface of a camper experience. To go deeper, they need more time that is flavored by those amazing older campers. We strive to give each girl the best camp experience possible, and longer sessions are better for older girls.

I might not be able to convince you that this policy is a good one. Many of you love camp and REALLY WANT to continue sending your girls to Greystone but our other sessions simply don’t work for you. To you who will graduate from August Camp and not make the jump, I assure you that there are wonderful shorter programs out there. Programs that meet for 1 or 2 weeks and provide a wonderful experience in every way (Young Life Camps, travel camps, adventure camps). There are great options that easily fit into busy schedules. We wish we could provide all session lengths for all girls, but it just isn’t possible at this time.

We know one day we may make a change in this policy. If camp is not working (not meeting the needs of our community), we will be the first to see this fact and adjust accordingly. At that point, the only non-negotiable point is our mission to glorify God as a Christian camp for girls. One thing that 100 years teaches us is that things change. We welcome change when it is needed, but for now, we believe the age ranges are still the right fit for us.

Sorry for the long Blog. I know we often use too many words, but it is because it’s hard to explain the nuance of complicated messages. Hopefully, this will answer some of your concerns… but as always, we welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for the support; it is appreciated.

The Details:

  • Breakfast Syrup-infused Belgium Waffles & sausage
  • Lunch Smoked Turkey Sandwiches
  • Dinner Spaghetti Casserole
  • EP is an epic game of Clue (a huge camp-wide mystery game of who took Jimboy’s Treasure with points for each clue that is solved… cabins search together to find the prize!).
  • The weather is absolutely perfect. High of 82, slight chance of rain.

Thank you for checking in and for reading long blogs!

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