By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
Yesterday morning, as I walked across the snow-covered basketball court toward the Camp Gray office, taking in the eerie sounds of winter’s silence, I couldn’t help but think about how drastically different my walk is during Summer Camp. Besides the obvious – no snow, no need to wear wool socks, and no silence – there are other differences which mostly entail my thoughts during that arduously long 150 yard commute from home to work. During the summer, my thoughts are centered on that specific day; thoughts of ways to better support our staff, and thoughts of ways to continue enhancing the experience of every single camper that comes to Summer Camp. During the school year, Jeff, Rebecca, & I have a great peace of mind knowing that Paul, Mo-T, and the Servant Leadership Team are doing an exceptional job spreading joy to the 5,000 kids that come to Camp Gray for retreats. Because of this, we’re able to put much of our focus, even in the bitter cold of these Wisconsin winters, on the preparations for Summer Camp as a whole, and on ways to continue spreading the word about Camp Gray to the masses.
This is why the annual phone-a-thon has become one of my favorite marketing events each year. For the past many years, two nights during the latter half of January are set aside for our staff to call every Camp Gray family from the previous summer, who have yet to sign up for the upcoming summer. It’s an opportunity to remind folks that registration is open and filling, and that the early bird discount deadline of February 1st is coming fast. It’s also an excellent opportunity for us to speak directly to our camp family, to learn of things we can do better and of things we should continue doing.
Initially, when I learned of the phone-a-thon, I was less than enthusiastic. Memories of telemarketers calling my family in the middle of supper came rushing back, which are calls that aren’t normally very well received. However, it took only a couple calls that first year to really appreciate the phone-a-thon. It was obvious how much our camp family appreciated the phone-a-thon. It is reassuring when parents thank us for taking the time to call.
I occasionally say, with a 50/50 mix of earnest and jest, that I wish Summer Camp could swap with the school year – making Summer Camp nine months long and the school year only three. This statement is a 50/50 mix because, in earnest, we LOVE Summer Camp around here. Lives are literally changed every single day at Camp Gray. However, I say it with 50% of jest, as well, because I know we need three times as much time in preparation to ensure that lives can be changed. It is our pleasure to put in this time. Thank you for your support of Camp Gray, and thank you for the constructive criticism and words of encouragement we receive during the phone-a-thon. Also, we thank you, campers, for your joy on the other end of the phone when you answer during the phone-a-thon; “Mom! Dad! Camp Gray is on the phone!”
Thanks for being a part of the Camp Gray family!
Thanks for tuning in, friends! Questions for the quarterly Tuesday’s with Topher mailbag? Email! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions!