Occasionally a blog is helpful in answering a common question. One of the big ones we get from August parents is why we do not allow older girls at shorter sessions. Obviously, this is a reasonable question and will be on your mind when you contemplate a possible return to camp next summer (Early Bird enrollments will be Monday-Friday next week).
You might well wonder why we have age limits at shorter sessions. It might appear to be unfair… longer sessions are less affordable, less convenient, and often conflict with family vacations. You wonder: Why can’t older girls return to August Camp?
This is not an arbitrary policy. Camp is strongly influenced by the age of the campers and in our experience these age restrictions work best. We are committed to doing the best we can to provide delight and inspiration for the girls… that they joyfully grow while at camp. Age limits have been set based on what works best in each session.
For about 50 years, Greystone offered only one session. Seven weeks, grades 1-11. In 1973 we added a three-week session that parents considered a “starter camp” for younger campers. Not all younger campers at Main Camp were ready for that more intense session; this provided a good solution. The session proved very popular, and about 10 years later, we added a 2-week camp. Our experience shows us that older campers have a much better experience in longer sessions, seeming to “outgrow” short sessions.
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 (that can only come with age) sets the tone for the rest of our community.
That commitment to and passion for Greystone develops consistently if given enough time. We have found that it works very well in a five-week session but goes off the tracks with less time. For some reason, it doesn’t work. Camp is still really good, but it is not as good as it is now. There are more behavioral issues, less satisfaction in the cabin groups, and lower re-enrollment percentages. June and August Camps used to have slightly older girls, but we reduced our grade limits by 1 grade in an attempt to make camp better… and it worked. Surveys improved, and Wait Lists grew.
We 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 your camper is aging out of August Camp and the other sessions don’t work for you. There are wonderful shorter programs at other camps. Programs that meet for 1 or 2 weeks and provide a wonderful experience (Young Life Camps, travel camps, and adventure camps specialize in those session lengths) and are great camps with excellent records.
If the time comes that the Greystone “template” no longer resonates, we will make a change. This policy has been appropriate for this generation but might need to be changed in the future. 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 our current community.
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 blog will answer some of your concerns… but as always, we welcome your questions and comments. Thank you for the support; it is appreciated.