Alumnae Stories: Camp Friendships that Last

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For so many of us, camp is synonymous with friendship. You can’t think about the golden days of Greystone without remembering your bunkmate, Penpal, or future bridesmaid who you met just walking down the road.

We love noticing the friendships that happen each summer (did you catch this video? It’s a must watch!), but some of the sweetest memories come later. Camp friendships get right to the heart of who we are and whose we are, and this gives them lasting power - they only get better with time!

Our Alumnae Update Form has been full of these stories, and today we’re sharing a few of them with you. Listen in as these alums share their favorite memories with their camp friends, how those relationships have grown, and why Greystone Girls make the best friends in the world.

Are you still in touch with your camp friends? We want to hear your stories as well! Fill out our Alumnae Update Form to tell us all about them. In the meantime, we’ll be thanking the Lord for friendships that never, ever, ever sever!

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Harriet Smith Peacock

I am originally from Mobile, AL but I now live in Birmingham, AL with my husband and precious Goldendoodle, Herbert, and work as a licensed professional counselor in private practice. I was a camper for 6 years and on staff for 3 years. I first met my lifelong friends in BU2 and years after in The Palace & Castle. We had ourselves quite the crew!

I can still remember meeting my first friend, Faust, as we were the first to show up in our cabin and immediately hit it off. I remember feeling so relieved as I was so nervous to be far away from home for 5 weeks. Little did we know, going on 20 years later - our crew would still be as steadfast as ever.

My camp group is very unique. 5 of us ended up going to The University of Alabama together while others were not far away. 4 of my bridesmaids were my camp friends; 1 being my Matron of Honor. It has been remarkable to see despite us all growing up in different states (AL, GA, TN, LA, TX, OH) that we still continue as we left off when together. I laugh the hardest when we are all together. We keep in touch through a text thread that goes off pretty much daily/weekly. I just saw 3 camp friends over the Christmas break. What are the odds that we all have ties to Birmingham now? God is good!

Without a doubt, these friendships are unique and special due to the glory of God and Him establishing himself VERY early on within our hearts while we grew spiritually each summer together. It is a friendship like no other that I cannot describe through words. We just GET each other to our core. The traditions that Greystone holds has bonded us for life!

Without camp, my life would be very different. I thank camp for my career, my best friends & my value system/strong faith. As a nervous 13 year old going to 5 week camp - little did I know what God was working in my heart for years to come!

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Linda Tidwell Ochsenmeier

My adventure with Greystone began before I ever went to camp. My best friend, Jan Hirsch (now Liscio), and I grew up together in Atlanta. One summer she went off to a three-week camp called Greystone and of course we exchanged letters.

Greystone sounded so amazing that I wanted to go, too. I pumped her for details and had her teach me camp songs. I went with her to the Greystone movies that were shown every year. The next summer, 1977, I joined her for June Camp (three weeks) in Cabin 7. I worked as a Table Girl and a Girl Help; I turned 13 there - I remember having a cake. I loved everything about camp!

It was a world apart and fortunately, Jan and I both knew that world and could share it when we were back home in ‘real’ life. The next summer Jan went off to seven week camp. Seven weeks! I couldn’t go that year but once again joined in the festivities by mail. In 1979 and 1980 we both went to Main Camp which was by then six weeks.We won a song contest one year. We were in Cabins 11 and 12 those summers. For me I was finally able to reconnect with Greystone girls from one summer to the next.

But one of the best things has been being able to relive memories over the years with Jan: Greystone food (bug juice, homemade rolls, chocolate stacks!),1-2-3-Shhh, song contests, canoeing, archery, cold showers, mandatory rides on the rickety bus to go swimming at the lake, getting a ‘G’ (which meant so much to us, but was completely foreign to our friends and family at home)…

The classes and activities were great, but it was really the whole atmosphere, the world of camp that we still talk about today. We remember our counsellors and cabin mates, but at least for me, I remember the world of Greystone that really can’t be replicated anywhere else.

Jan and I both ended up living far apart - she is in Chicago and I am in Brussels - but we see each other fairly regularly, usually when visiting family. Mostly, though, we keep up with each other through email and WhatsApp. It’s funny how despite distance and differences, we have so many things in common and a chat with her always feels like coming home. Among the many links that tie us together is our shared experience of Greystone.

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Fran Crook:

There are 15 of us who have been camp friends for decades! We call ourselves the Tribe and try to get together at least once, sometimes twice a year.

We have a GroupMe page and share news and prayer requests. Four of us get together to play Spades a few times a year. We all agree that our camp friendships have been stronger than other ties. We often do Zoom meetings especially if someone has a special birthday! We often break into camp songs and laugh at funny memories.

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Jane Nicholson Kuhlenbeck

I was a camper at main camp from 1997-2005 and on staff as a counselor in 2007. I have lots of friends from camp but 6 who I talk to regularly. I met each of them at different times.

I met the first of my closest friends my very first summer in 1997 when I was 9. She had attended Main Camp already and showed me the ropes! The rest I met and became close with in subsequent summers. Some were in the lower Tentalow when I was in the upper and a few more came to Main camp from different sessions previously.

Everyone celebrated you for YOU. We are so individually so different but, we have an incredible foundation for what it means to be a good friend and I think a lot comes from what we learned at camp.

We all live in different states yet we still talk regularly. Some were roommates after college and I find that I’m always meeting someone new who has a connection to one of them.

We have a text thread, and we do some form of communication weekly. We text or send each other Instagram messages about silly things but we also text about more serious life happenings to keep each other in the loop if we need prayer or just someone to talk to. We have all gotten married and some have had children. It’s so fun to keep in touch and still feel a part of each other’s lives. We try to get together annually if we can!

As adults I think one of the most important things is that even though we don’t see each other often, we are still very much there for each other. We were provided such incredible examples at camp of honesty, kindness, but mostly the encouragement to be ourselves and I think that still resonates and remains a significant part of each of us today.

The networking of camp friendships is so wonderful. I met my college roommate through one of my closest friends at camp. I moved to Nashville TN after college and got to see and hang out with my camp friends regularly and then I met my husband through a friend I knew from camp!

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Virginia McNeill

I can’t even remember how my friend group really began to form at camp. I just know that I always felt comfortable with my camp friends from the start, and it’s always been such a real, genuine friendship.

After our last couple years as campers, we all stayed in touch via group text despite going to different colleges and living all around the country. Some of us came back and worked on staff together while we were in college, but I think the coolest part about this friendship is that we still get together once a year, even though we’ve been working in the real world for the past 5 years.

I feel like camp friendships are so special because the bond you create while living with these people for a month every summer allows you to pick up right where you left off every time you see each other. These girls are genuinely some of the most supportive people that I’ll forever have in my corner. I remember in college when I tore my ACL, I got a package from all my camp friends with notes of encouragement and goodies. I will never forget that support and love they showed me! These camp friendships are so deeply rooted in Christ, and I am forever thankful for the way Greystone gave me an authentic community and friends to last a lifetime.

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