Historians will speak of this day eons from now – the day a helicopter landed on the AF at Camp Gray.

By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

From the ‘Untold (until now) Stories’ Folder of the Camp Gray Blog.

In the words of summer staffer Anna Brodarick’s ‘Recreation, Sport, and Tourism’ textbook, “When establishing goals, it is helpful to begin with the end in mind.”

There’s a lot of planning that goes into each experience at Camp Gray – whether it be during Summer Camp, or during a school-year retreat. The end in mind, regardless of season, is to positively impact the lives of children by striving to imitate the love of Christ. We take seriously this responsibility while serving 1,200 youth during the summer and over 3,000 during the school year.

Staff training prepares our counselors and support staff to plan each session of camp with the end in mind. It takes a lot of forethought to prepare a session at camp, and it’s powerful when campers and retreatants can look back at activities that took place early on in their time at Camp, and see the connections that bring the week to fruition. To demonstrate such forethought, our aim is to create such an example during our staff training.

To kick off staff training 2012, way back in early June, we circled up our brand new staff on Camp’s basketball court (the BBC). As they stood patiently, awaiting the start of training, they heard – and then saw – off in the distance, a small, remote controlled helicopter flying towards the circle. Paul – strategically posted on the roof of Camp’s old office – was manning the controls of the chopper, and brought it down safely in the middle of the circle (alright, truth be told, the chopper might have crash landed…). The chopper was carrying a note, which had directions on dividing our 50-person staff into 5 teams, and it then kicked off an epic scavenger hunt around Camp’s 225 acres (Go Orange!)

Our staff would soon learn that using a remote controlled helicopter to deliver a note wasn’t merely a random way to commence staff training 2012.

On the final afternoon of our 8-day training, with temperatures hovering near 100, we asked our staff to meet on the Athletic Field (the AF) for one last lesson.

Look at those faces! Yes friends, a helicopter is about to land on Camp’s Athletic Field!

With the Summer Staff gathered on the AF (in the shade on the side nearest the softball diamond), Rebecca began summarizing staff training, and discussing a few of the lessons learned. It was at about that time that our staff heard – and then saw – off in the distance, a large helicopter flying towards the AF. Paul wasn’t controlling the helicopter this time around, as this was a Robinson R-44 Raven1 chopper from nearby “Fly High Wisconsin Tours.”

When the helicopter made its first pass over the AF, our gathered staff waved and pointed, not realizing that the chopper would soon circle back and land on the far side of the AF. Then, as it approached a second time, and Rebecca’s excitement level reached extraordinary levels, our staff began to realize something monumental was taking place. After the chopper landed, two CIA looking individuals exited the helicopter and delivered a briefcase to Rebecca and me.

What was in the briefcase? It contained a note, similar to the note that the first helicopter delivered, only this time, the note didn’t kick off an epic scavenger hunt, it kicked off another incredible Summer at Camp Gray.

Enjoy the video:

We hope that the forethought and planning that goes into every session of Summer Camp is apparent, and that our end in mind – impacting the lives of children – is accomplished with each child that joins us at Camp Gray.

Special thanks to Eric Peterson of “Fly High Wisconsin Tours” for your integral part in inspiring all of us at Camp Gray. Also, special thanks to Nicky Kaehler and Matt Brennan for their help in planning the chopper visit, and for being great CIA-esque operatives.

You don’t want to miss next week’s Two-Part Tuesdays with Topher post, as we’re thrilled to (finally!) post about the new Camp Gray retreat space/office, and to unveil the name of the new building!

Thanks for your continued support of Camp Gray, and for tuning into the Camp Gray blog!

Do you have questions (about CG, sports, faith, coffee… anything!) for the semi-regular Tuesdays with Topher mailbag? Email! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions!  Check out the latest mailbag by clicking here.