By: Rebecca Hoeben
There is an old adage here at Camp Gray, “If you come to camp for a day you leave a part of the family.” After spending over 20 summers at Camp Gray I know this to be true without a doubt. My first summer at Camp Gray was as a nervous middle school camper many, many summers ago. I was excited, nervous, and over-joyed to be at Camp for the first time for a whole week. I still remember my first counselor, my cabin mates, the program areas I choose and the cheers at mealtime. By the end of the week I knew I wanted to be a counselor here someday.
Well, someday turned into several summers on summer staff (four as a counselor), two years serving as the year round Program Director and 11 summers serving as co-Executive Director. Beyond working here, little did I know I’d be blessed to meet my husband here, get married in the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, and live and raise our children here. The many campers and staffers that I’ve worked with have truly become my family and I’ve been abundantly blessed with the biggest and best camp family ever.
There are so many things I’ve loved about my job at Camp Gray over the years. I’ve loved the joys and challenges of bringing together a team of college-age youth to serve the 1400 summer campers and over 4000+ school year retreat participants. I’ve loved the “dream-big” moments that have happened at camp over the years. Moments such as, the day a helicopter landed on the athletic field, or when the Oscar Meyer Weinermobile showed up at the end of staff training, or when the first meal of campers enjoyed a delicious spaghetti dinner in the new JPII Dining Hall or watching my kids make it to the top of Paul’s Wall.
Even more than that I’ve enjoyed the quieter moments at Camp. Moments of simple beauty like walk-n-talks with staff, a starry night on the athletic field, or a fall walk down the “maple trail” followed by the early spring sap collecting. Moments of gratitude and fulfillment such as the love and support our family received when Jeff battled cancer, coaching a staff member through a challenging cabin group or tough time, or watching a camper try something new for the first time. Or the small joys of teaching staff and campers team building games, running dishes through the dishwasher in Camp’s kitchen, playing lightning on the BBC, SUP-ing at Lake Jake, and hearing from campers and staff later as they’ve grown up from camp how camp has impacted them.
Furthermore, I’ve loved watching campers and staff find awe and wonder in God’s creation. Watching my own kids experience Camp as campers and grow up here is a true joy. All of these moments have helped me to grow in my faith and in my love of the Lord and in my love for others. I’ve enjoyed the lasting friendships, the God moments, and the everyday moments of living and working at Camp Gray.
Many of these I’ll continue to enjoy, but after 20 summers serving on camp staff God’s called me to serve in a deeper way my own smaller family at home. It’s with great peace and joy that I trade my title of Executive Director to Stay at Home Mom and Homeschool Teacher. While I will no longer be working in the office or planning staff training I get to stay here, supporting my husband who now solely serves as Executive Director and the rest of the amazing staff as they plan staff training and continue to dream big. Thanks for being a part of my family. I’m truly blessed and grateful.
“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.” -Saint Pope John Paul II.