By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
Several summers ago, a wise former staff member of Camp Gray wrote a letter to staffers gathered to start staff training;
“You have but a small and limited time at Camp Gray. Even staff members that serve for five or six years only account for a tiny fraction in the life of Camp. We come, we serve, we move on, this is the legacy of a Camp Gray staffer.”
“This does not mean that your contribution to Camp Gray is small in any way; in fact you are doing nothing less than changing the world.”
It’s true. With the Camp Gray staff being comprised almost entirely of college students, it lends itself to most folks serving at Camp Gray for a summer or two, and then moving on – many of them into full-time ministry roles at parishes or Catholic schools. Although, just as the wise-former-staff-member wrote, even those that serve at Camp Gray for one summer are playing a huge role in changing the world.
Imagine then, a staff member (or two), that have served for several more years than the typical one, two, or even five or six. The impact they’ve had at Camp Gray (and the world) is truly immeasurable.
Back in April of 1996, the powers that were at Camp Gray hired a new Property Manager. Sixteen years later, Tom Thill continues to serve in this role, ensuring that, even with his modest yearly budget, Camp Gray looks and runs as though it was only a couple years old – rather than nearly 60 years old. Because several of our buildings at Camp Gray are nearly as old as the Camp, constant care and maintenance is required, which could become quite irritating for many. However, when Tom is informed of a leaky pipe, or a broken furnace, or a toilet that just isn’t running quite right, his typical jovial response is, “Thank goodness for job security!”
In March of 1997, with rental groups beginning to fill the school year schedule, the powers that were decided it was time to hire help in cleaning the buildings after the departure of the groups. Fifteen years later, Tricia Sanborn is still serving Camp Gray in her wonderfully unique way. Over the years, Tricia’s role has changed. She now serves as Camp’s Guest Services Manager – which means she handles all of the paperwork for all 1,200 campers each summer, as well as for each rental group that comes during the school year. When she’s not taking care of paper work or answering phones, she’s an expert at reuniting campers with misplaced and found items.
I feel abundantly blessed to be a part of the Camp Gray family. I have the great privilege of witnessing the Mission of Camp Gray being lived out daily, which is seen through the smiles of the thousands of campers, retreatants, and staffers each year. Additionally, I am honored to work with amazing people, like Tom and Tricia. It may seem cliché to talk about the great network of campers, alumni, and staff as a family. However, if I’m going to live 1,000 miles from my family, there’s no other family I’d want to be a part of then the Camp Gray family.
Many thanks to Tom Thill and Tricia Sanborn for your tireless (okay, sometimes it’s tiring!) services to Camp Gray. If there was a Camp Gray Hall of Fame, you both would no doubt be first ballot inductees – after retirement and then after the five year waiting period, of course. Here’s to another sixteen and fifteen years, respectively. Camp Gray truly wouldn’t be the same without you.
Do you have questions (about CG, sports, faith, coffee… anything!) for the quarterly Tuesdays with Topher mailbag? Email! Thanks to those that have already emailed over questions!