By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
“Let’s change the world, one camper at a time.”
Our emcee, Timmy Chaptman, said these powerful words near the conclusion of Camp Gray’s recent 5th Annual Benefit Dinner.
Over 200 people joined us at St. Francis Xavier Parish in Cross Plains on the evening of March 15th for fun, delicious food, and great support for Camp Gray. The evening included both a silent auction and a live auction, with over $23,000 being raised for our Camper Aid Fund. This fund ensures that all campers, regardless of financial restraints, are able to experience the life-changing mission of Camp Gray.
The Camp Gray Benefit Dinner has grown by leaps and bounds in just the few years that we’ve hosted the event, for which we are abundantly thankful. The support we receive in auction items, ticket purchases, and monetary donations, makes it possible to continue impacting the youth of the Church. We truly can’t say it enough: Thank You.
It was especially fun to meet and mingle with the many new faces that joined us for our 5th Annual Dinner. One guest told Camp Gray Director, Jeff Hoeben, that she was thrilled by the opportunity to meet some of the staff her daughter speaks so highly of upon her return home each summer from Camp. It’s an honor for us to meet the folks that believe in the mission of Camp Gray enough to trust us with their most valuable gifts – their children. It was also a huge blessing to see so many familiar faces of longtime supporters and alumni staffers from past summers.
Before the evening was over, Chaptman stepped back up to the podium to share a story highlighting the far-reaching effects of the Camp Gray experience. Chaptman, a Summer Camp Staffer from 2005-2011, met his wife Lauren at Camp in 2007. Years later, Lauren encountered a woman during a bible study in Kansas whose life was forever touched by Camp Gray. Her name is Emily.
Emily grew up in Overland Park, KS, and when she was a child, her mom read a story in Kansas City’s archdiocesan newspaper about Camp Gray. Emily’s mom decided to send her to Summer Camp at Camp Gray, driving her 9 hours each way to give her the opportunity. Turns out, the experience at Camp Gray forever changed her life. It was at Camp Gray where Emily first learned about the true presence in the Eucharist. It’s where she first saw the great joy in the Church, and for the first time, a spark for her faith was lit. 15 years later, Emily is now happily married with two children and she is raising them to have the same faith and values that she originally discovered at Camp Gray.
Emily’s experience at Camp Gray 15 years ago still impacts her to this day. Emily’s experience at Camp Gray 15 years ago is now impacting the lives of her children. Hopefully, many years from now, Emily’s children will pass on the Camp Gray impact to their children.
Chaptman explained that when people donate to Camp Gray, they aren’t giving money simply to help create a fun experience for children. While kids do have an incredibly fun experience at Camp Gray, it’s more than that. The Camp Gray experience impacts kids far beyond just their one-week at Camp Gray. It stays with them, impacting many generations into the future, and because of this, the Camp Gray Family Tree grows fuller and fuller.
Emily wrote to us recently with these words:
“My two summers at camp lit a fire in my heart that could not be extinguished! I am forever thankful to God for giving me that beautiful experience of His love at such a young age–I honestly can’t imagine where I’d be today without it.”
Yes indeed, Timmy. Let’s change the world, one camper at a time.
Thanks again to all those that helped to make the 5th Annual Camp Gray Benefit Dinner a huge success, especially the Planning Team and our wonderful chef, Fr. Garrett Kau, and his team of cooks!
To see all of the images from the 5th Annual Camp Gray Benefit Dinner, please click here.
Do you have questions (about CG, sports, faith, coffee… anything!) for the semi-regular ‘Tuesdays with Topher’ mailbag? Please email any questions you might have! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions! Check out the latest mailbag by clicking here.