The concept sounds a little crazy: every spring, we find 4-6 puppies to participate in our Dog Camp program. All summer long, they are walked, loved-on, and taken care of by campers who take that class (the biggest dog-lovers around!). At the end of August Camp, each puppy is then adopted by a camp family to start the rest of his or her life as a family pet.
It’s not hard to see why Dog Camp is a favorite activity every summer and why taking a puppy home is a dream for so many girls! But what is it actually like to take a camp dog home? We’re continuing our “what is it like?” series by talking to a few past Dog Camp families (and seeing lots of pictures of their pups!).
Scroll on to read more about their experiences, and stay tuned this spring to find out what breed of dogs we’ll have this year! Any guesses? Put them in the comments!
Pete is the furry child-dog of Hunter Stanfield and Merranda Holmes. Hunter has worked on Men’s Staff for several years. Merranda has been a camp doctor for the past two years and enjoys working with all of the Health Hut Staff while Hunter works in the Farm Barn.
Pete, originally known as “JoJo” after Joseph Sevier, came home with Hunter from camp in 2019, and easily acclimated to kayaking and going on long walks because of all of the outdoor training and impromptu swimming lessons he got at camp. He loves the water! Pete was also the best dog at our wedding in 2020!
Ellen-Anne convinced Hunter he needed someone to keep him company and to pick up the ladies as he made the move to Nashville, which was before Hunter met Merranda. Pete definitely helped keep Merranda coming around after they met!
After August Camp ended, Pete was brought to Nashville by the magnificent Kellie Purdy, when I (Hunter) picked him up. At the time, Hunter was living with Brannon Taylor, and Pete quickly made the transition to living the bachelor life with Hunter and his Uncle Brannon. Pete became the life of the party, and he looked forward to spending some time each day at the local dog park where he would chase tennis balls, romp around with other dogs, and befriend almost every other dog owner.
Pete’s best quality is his temperament. People constantly ask where we got him and if they can get a camp dog, too. Pete is almost 80 pounds but is great around infants, young kids, and older folks. He can make someone who might feel lonely smile and come alive! Pete is definitely a morning person. He is bounding all around the house when we first get up, and every time we come home he’s always excited to see us.
We are grateful for Kellie Purdy, the counselors, and the campers who trained him so well in 2019! Pete’s favorite things are ear rubs, taking up the entire couch, playing with other dogs, and finishing our yogurt cups. Within the past few months, he has developed a bedtime routine: he jumps in bed, squeezes between us, makes us pet him for about 5-10 minutes, and then we both tell him good night before he gets back in his dog bed. He is genuinely a little human.
My name is Caroline Giraud (now Jones!). My husband, Brandon, my dog camp puppy, Harry, and I live right next door to camp. Harry and I take a walk around camp almost every day! In 2017, I was working at camp as a group leader. I met Harry and his litter and got puppy fever right away! When Harry came from the breeder, his name was Wolfcatcher - hilarious because he’s a very chill guy. He was immediately renamed Harry when he came to dog camp, and it’s stuck!
I’d been thinking about getting a dog for quite a while. I had a great situation to have a dog - I could bring Harry to the office with me every day and was living with dog-loving roommates. Harry and I got along right away and he’s been my fluffy sidekick ever since.
I remember bringing Harry to Harry’s and Piggy’s in Hendersonville after camp ended and the employees brought him ice cream! Harry had really never been alone when I brought him home, so it was definitely a transition for him to be by himself sometimes. Luckily, he’s very food-motivated, so a Kong full of peanut butter when I’d leave home solved his separation anxiety quickly.
Harry is such a great dog. He’s so laid-back and is amazing with kids and other dogs. He’s never met a stranger and loves being pet by anyone around him wherever he goes. He alternates between going to the office with my husband and with me, and he has quite a fan club both places.
Having a dog camp dog is the best! Harry is the sweetest buddy and I’m so glad I could bring him home with me in 2017. He’s made my life better every day!
Our family has been a part of camp since the 60s and I have worked as a HH nurse since 2004. We had moved back home in 2011 and the next year were settled in and wanted a dog. We checked with Lell and found there was one puppy not claimed, a female named Olive as her eyes were green. I worked August camp 2012 and she returned home with me.
When we got home Mason and I decided we would change her name to Lucy, though her official name is Lady Sadie Lucille Greystone. She was such a gentle puppy. We think her experience with all the girls at camp taught her to be calm and she rarely jumped up on people, even as a puppy. She had been taught with a gentle leader harness and to this day she has never pulled on her leash while she is wearing it.
One of my favorite memories shows how gentle and aware she is of those around her. I was walking her around our little town of Hahira during lunch time. We passed a friends home and she was there having lunch with her husband, who had recently returned home from the hospital after suffering a stroke. We walked into their home and Lucy immediate walked over to him and laid her head in his lap. He stroked her head for 10-15 minutes and she never moved. It was so special to watch their interaction.
Lucy will be 11 years old in March and is getting old. We talk about the type dog we will get when she is gone but we know we will never have a dog as wonderful as her. Like all Greystone girls she’s special and we love her. But when that time comes we definitely want another Greystone puppy!
Jordan (hooman) and Tux (dog) here to tell you a little about our journey as a 2 person packed turned 5 - yep you read that right we are rolling deep these days with the addition of a little fur sister (Bones in 2017), a Dad (Corey in 2018) and a new hooman brother (Sully in 2022). It all started back in 2013 when I was set to be a counselor at Camp Greystone after graduating from Clemson. I had somehow convinced my parents that as a graduation present I needed a puppy, but not just any puppy, a dog camp puppy.
Not only did I grow up going to Camp Greystone as a camper but had been a counselor for 3 years and the highlight of my year was spending time in the “bubble”, so to have another reason to love Greystone via a puppy was a no brainer. When I spoke with Kelly Carew about the possibility of taking home a pup at the end of the summer she said that they already had their eyes set on a litter of golden retriever puppies.
I was sold and as soon as the litter arrived at camp I scurried up and laid my eyes on this large (very rotund) puppy and got to meet my Tuxedo, Tux for short. This was the beginning of my summer getting to see Tux walk around camp with all the campers and get showered with so much love! I will say he was the LAZIEST puppy… while they did a lot of walking, I’m pretty sure Tux did a lot of being held. I remember one camper telling me that they had nicked name him “Tubs” be cause he was so chubby and then I watched a very small camper carry this very large puppy up a hill because he refused to walk. He is still lazy to this day, but there is not a lot of carrying going on. And I may have rubbed off on him, as he does love hiking and train runs.
After leaving Greystone Tux and I went to Wake Forest for law school where he secured his spot as the best “emotional support animal”, being the main stress reliever for my friend group. After spending all summer surrounded by campers, moving to being surrounded by law students (though not as fun as campers) was an easy transition for him.
He was the ultimate a study buddy and would hang out in the middle of our study circles so that everyone had to pay attention to him. That being said he did require plenty of exercise after being walked around all summer, so we quickly got in a routine of long pre and post-class walkies. The only main issue we had with the transition is that Tux gets car sick, and for the first few months would puke any time we got in the car, though I think that is more of a “Tux Trait”.
After I graduated from law school in 2017 my sweet boyfriend (now husband) proposed with a golden retriever puppy! Bones entered our little family and I was so in love… Tux was not and would still like everyone to know that he was an excellent only child. It took a little time, but Tux and Bones are now are best friends and were even the flower dog and ring-bearer in our wedding. They do everything together, though Tux still likes to sneak in some only dog walks when Bones isn’t paying attention.
We currently live in Charlotte, NC where Tux is king of our street and spends much of his time sitting on the front porch surveying his kingdom. He absolutely loves spending time in the garden and is getting ready to celebrate his 10th bday in April. We recently brought his new human brother home and Tux ADORES him. Tux tried to get in the bassinet a number of times as he wanted to be touching the baby at all times. Now Tux is Sully’s favorite walker and they trek around the house all day showing off their walking skills.
I cannot recommend getting a dog camp puppy enough. Knowing that the pups get to spend their summer at Greystone surrounded by wonderful girls makes bringing them home even better. One thing about Tux is that he LOVES girls, especially camper aged girls, and will do anything he can to get some pets and a belly rub from them. Tux has not only been my emotional support animals, but he has been my best friend and snuggle buddy since I brought him home.
Tux is incredibly loving and a little lazy, but he is so sweet. He wants to be close to me all the time. At dinner or breakfast he sits under my chair while I eat (OK i may also be a messy eater) and at night we share a pillow (much to Corey’s chagrin). I wouldn’t change a thing if I could.
Fun Fact – Bones has the same mom as Tux, so she too has a little bit of a tie to Camp Greystone!
George is a beloved member of our family. We live on two acres on the corner of 2 cul de sacs and George loves his freedom. We have a creek that only runs when it rains, but when it does, George lays in it. He chases balls for days and when no one is available to throw them to him, he gathers them all and leaves them on the front porch so he’s ready to go. 2 years ago we got another puppy, not from camp (it was during Covid). Trooper is an Australian Labradoodle and he adores George and follows him everywhere.
We remain very connected to camp! Both of my daughters were campers for 13 summers and are both working at camp this summer as counselors. My son works in the kitchen at camp. I’ve taught Dog Camp the last 5 summers and we adopted George the first summer I taught dog camp! Since that first summer, George has returned to camp with me each summer and “helped” with the puppies. They love having him around as a role model and he loves them for most of the day, then he escapes to my cabin. George’s favorite thing to do at camp is running down the blue slide.
When else can you get a puppy that has had so much socialization and training? If you are looking for a pup, it’s the perfect way to add one to your family!
George slept the whole way home in the car. He’s been a dream of a dog from day one! George’s transition was super easy. It took him about 2 weeks to help us understand he needed to go outside. Once we figured that out, he never had another accident. He missed the rhythm and energy of camp at first (don’t we all?) but he settled in quickly to life with just us. He has always loved his crate, a skill he learned at camp.
The first time we returned to camp, the summer after his puppy year, George ran into Dog Camp and jumped in the puppy pen then put his paws up on the fence and looked at me like “I remember this place”. George cannot resist a tennis ball with a squeaker. He is addicted. On a gorgeous day, when he really does not want to come inside, if we squeak a tennis ball, he comes running. He cannot say “no”.
Dog camp dogs come to your family with so many experiences and so much socialization, they really are the ideal dogs. They can roll with just about anything because they experience so much at camp. George is always up for an adventure. He loves the water, obviously, and we take him kayaking/canoeing in our local rivers, but he has also been with us to the beach, camping and even on college visits.
For a lab, George is shy. He is an Enneagram 6 - loyal and kind but an introvert. When meeting new people, he can’t decide if he’s excited or afraid but he warms up eventually and if you throw a squeaky ball, he considers you a friend for life.
We have two little boys and we live in Colorado. I worked 20 summers at Greystone. My first dog was an OG dog camp pup! When it came time to add a family dog, I was pumped to be considered. I contacted EA months before the puppies were even born!!
She went by Taylor at camp, so we made that her middle name. She answers to Leia now 😎
I love the Dog Camp program. I love how much the pups love children. Leia is so chill with the shenanigans of our crazy boys.
Getting her home was a cross country drive!!! She got sick in the NC mountains so we thought it would be a long trip, but once the roads straightened out she was fine!
Because camp does a great job crate training, the transition was great with potty things. Adjusting to the chewing of a puppy with young children who leave toys, etc on the floor was rough. She loves shoe insoles!! Luckily that has gotten way better!!
When we first came home she thought my then 3yo was a puppy too. We had to work on his “No!” I love watching my 4 & 5 year old snuggle with her and tell their friends about their best friend Leia. She is outstanding with our boys! She is the best greeter and “hugger”.
Cat and Peter here and our Dog Camp pup Ben, the most perfect Golden Retriever ever (but we’re biased). I work at camp year-round and Ben was a camp pup the summer of 2015. We fell in love with him as soon as we saw his mohawk. He has always been (and will forever be) Ben!
I’ve fallen in love with many Dog Camp dogs over the years, so I knew that would be our first choice when it came time for Peter and me to get our own pup. I’ve always loved how chill and sociable the puppies end up being after their summer at camp. When you’re acclimated to a bunch of campers, life at home is a piece of cake!
It’s crazy to look back at pictures of how SMALL Ben was! He’s still a little bit of a scared-y cat (that’s just who he is!), so looking back, it doesn’t surprise me to remember that he was a little timid out in the “real world” at first. The first time we brought him into a regular house, he wasn’t sure what to make of the hardwood floors and all the stairs! He settled in super quickly, though, and it wasn’t long until we couldn’t imagine life without him!
It’s hard to say whether it was nature or nuture, but Ben’s personality sets him apart, and I like to think that Dog Camp played a big part in that! He is truly the easiest, most laid-back, and calm dog I’ve ever met (he’s been the perfect gateway dog for Peter, who didn’t grow up around a lot of dogs!). He loves other dogs and humans equally and is just as happy going on an adventure as he is napping at home. Dog Camp is the ultimate crash course in puppy socialization, and I really do think it helped turn him into the best dog ever (sappy, but true!).
My ultimate dream is to reunite Ben with some of his Dog Camp siblings! I’ve seen the way the puppies from other years recognize each other and I just think it would be so fun to see Ben with his brother and sisters again. If you have a Dog Camp pup from 2015, let’s talk!