By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

SANTA! I know him!

From all of us at Camp Gray: MERRY CHRISTMAS!

As 2014 inches towards the finish line, I look back on the past year with a great deal of gratitude. It’s been a wonderful year at Camp Gray – loads of laughter, lots of fun, and heaps and heaps of JOY. Thank you for your support of Camp Gray. It really is the support of our wonderful Camp Gray family – YOU! – that makes everything possible. So again; Thank You.

As I look back on 2014, my mind quickly jumps to the dozens and dozens of stories that have already been told on Camp’s blog, facebook, twitter, instagram, & YouTube. When future generations look back at Camp Gray 2014, they’ll see the amazing creativity of our staff and the JOY of our campers. They’ll see that our staffers were zany, and that yes, it’s exhausting being so zany! They’ll see that there was not one, but two milestones achieved, and that it was in 2014 that we first ran the Cassidy Games with Co-Chiefs! They’ll learn of the amazing Servant Leadership Team that wrapped up their year of service in May, and they’ll learn of the top-notch crew that began theirs in August. They’ll learn without any shred of doubt that teal is in fact the deal. They’ll learn of our dreams for the future and think, “Wowsers! Thank goodness they dreamed so big!” Most importantly, they’ll see that the mission of Camp Gray, in the midst of the zany and the crazy, was at the very heart of all that we did. Thanks again for an amazing year!

There are several other stories that haven’t been told (stories of lumberjacks and waffles and a failed attempt to achieve greatness on the soccer pitch at nearby Camp Chi). I’m hopeful that those stories will be told in the early part of 2015. One yet-to-be-told story, however, couldn’t wait. So please, if you haven’t already, grab yourself a cup of coffee, sit back, and enjoy!

The story I’d like to share took place on an ordinary Thursday dinner during Summer Camp. Thursday dinners are typically quite boisterous, because there’s loads of excitement for that which follows dinner – the culminating (CULMINATION!) night of the Cassidy Games. Before we exit the pavilion to kick off the Games, however, we take part in a post-meal singing of “The Moose Song.” The Moose Song has been around Camp Gray for generations, and it’s special because it’s not simply a song about a Moose – “Nay,” I say. Rather (Let The Greatest Among You Be As The Youngest, The Leader As The Servant), it’s a song that – when sung correctly and with the help of those in attendance – ATTRACTS MOOSE!

Allow me to back up quickly, though, for I started this story by telling you that it was an ordinary Thursday dinner. I regret those words, for this particular Thursday dinner was anything but typical. The reason? Well, because it was Christmas Eve.

Christmas Eve? During Summer Camp?

To be more precise, it was Christmas Eve (in July)!

You see, Christmas (in July) at Camp Gray is nothing to sneeze at (Okay, seriously – what does that saying even mean?). Throughout the week of Christmas (in July), songs are sung, decorations are hung, and a general joyfulness is experienced by all. This all culminates (CULMINATION!) on Christmas (in July)!

This year, as plans were being made for Christmas (in July), a suggestion of epic proportions was made: To enhance this year’s Christmas (in July), we should get Santa Claus to Camp Gray. Lucky for us, Santa summers in Baraboo, which is a short 10-minute drive from Camp Gray. Santa was called, an invitation extended, and before we knew it, Santa was booked to surprise campers (AND STAFF!) with a Christmas Eve (in July) visit.

Back to the Moose song. A critical part of the song is the third line of the first and only verse: “A-MOOSA-MOOSA-MOOSA!”

On such an extraordinary Thursday night, however, we decided that instead of attracting a moose, perhaps we could attract a reindeer that could lead Santa into the pavilion.


No hyperbole, no exaggeration: In my many years at Camp Gray, I’ve seen a lot of wonderful moments that bring great joy to our campers (and staffers!). Few compare to that extraordinary Thursday dinner. Don’t just take my word for it, though…


Thanks for reading, and thanks again for a phenomenal 2014. From all of us at Camp Gray, we wish you a very Merry Christmas (in December!)!