By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

My task in penning this article: to effectively and succinctly sum up 10 amazing weeks of Summer Camp at Camp Gray. It’s a tall order – writing a summary of Summer Camp – but I’m a tall guy. I’m thrilled to use my height for more than just throwing down wicked awesome dunks on Camp’s 8-foot basketball hoop.

A few weeks back, the sun set on another extraordinary summer at Camp Gray. The sun doesn’t stay set for long around here, as our busy fall schedule is already underway, but more on that in a bit.

Teal is the deal, and the 2014 staff was certainly the real deal. Thanks friends, for your abundant JOY!

Teal is the deal, and the 2014 staff was certainly the real deal. Thanks friends, for your abundant JOY!

The sun dipped below the horizon in mid-August, concluding a summer of faith, friends, fun, and heaps and heaps of JOY. There was something extra special about Summer Camp 2014 at Camp Gray. At every turn, one could easily see examples of JOY. While there were loads of obvious joy-moments: taking part in the Cassidy Games, praising God during mass, eating dessert pizza, catching fish at Lake Jake, winning the Golden Toilet Seat Award, etc., joy abounded in less obvious moments, as well.

A middle-of-the-night severe storm during the early part of the summer forced us to wake up all of our campers and staffers. Tired and groggy, folks trudged to our storm shelter. Within minutes, our now wide-awake and wonderful staff had turned a potentially challenging experience into a fun theatrical bonanza of songs and skits. There were loud claps of thunder and flashes of lighting outside? You’d never know it, because inside there were loud claps of excitement and flashes of smiles.

The theme for Summer Camp 2014 happened to be: JOY. A simple, yet incredibly profound theme, it was the perfect daily reminder for campers and staffers to set their compass towards Christ. It was a daily reminder that whether we’re happy, sad, frustrated, tired, excited, or if our team just lost in the Cassidy Games – oh well, we’ve got Jesus, we’ve got joy, so choose JOY.

At the end of the day, the job of a Camp Gray staffer is to be a bright shining image of God’s love for each of our campers (actually, that’s our job every moment of every day, not just at the end of the day – see what I did there?). We welcomed 1,300 campers to Camp Gray this summer. Each unique. Each super cool. Each awesome gifts from God.

G.K. Chesterton once said, “If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.”

Thanks for the segue, G.K.! Speaking of sunsets – the oranges, the yellows, the pinks, the reds, and yes, even the rosy – the sunsets this past summer at Camp Gray were breathtaking. I’m certain we’ve always had spectacular sunsets at Camp – I’m also certain I’ve never appreciated their beauty as much I did during Summer Camp 2014.

It's free! Get outside tonight and watch the sunset!

It’s free! Get outside tonight and watch the sunset!

Each unique. Each super cool. Each awesome gifts from God.

I think that’s the beauty of JOY. Orient your compass towards Christ, friends, and allow yourself to be moved and inspired by those everyday gifts – those gifts that perhaps we can take for granted. In other words, friends, be where your feet are.

Like I mentioned before, the metaphorical sun doesn’t stay set for long here at Camp Gray. A mere 10-days after the conclusion of Summer Camp, the sun was up again, as Shane Reinbold – our new Program Director – and our Servant Leadership Team (more about them soon!) began training for their nine-month adventure leading countless retreats at Camp Gray. Since summer, we’ve already welcomed over 120 folks to our annual Family Camp, 75 high schoolers for Camp’s Frassati Day, and for the next two days, twenty 8th graders are here from Sun Prairie for a Leadership Retreat.

Additionally, the arrival of September means that planning for next summer is upon us. Sessions and dates are being planned, program improvements are being discussed, etc. Additionally, we’ll be embarking on a grant-writing journey to keep the ball rolling on our building improvement list. Next up: a new dining hall, a new gymnasium, and an improved and revamped Athletic Field (more details on these down the road, too.).

As summer turns to fall, it’s not time to rest, for there’s lots of work to be done. Filled with JOY, we’re ready to tackle the work ahead of us. We thank you in advance for your support and your help in continuing to grow and improve Camp Gray – without you, put simply, Camp Gray wouldn’t be Camp Gray.