By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

On his last night at Camp Gray, he gifted Camp with his late, great-uncle’s wrist watch, and thanked us for keeping the dream alive.  He came all the way from Ireland to take in the celebration because he’s a Gray, like his great-uncle, who dreamed the dream 60 years ago.

gray on

Francis poses for a photo in front of the Camp Gray sign. 

God you called us here
God you called us home

Back in the early 50s, when the good Monsignor Francis Xavier Gray began scouting land for a place to create a youth camp, he dreamed of a “place where youths would be free and away from the temptations of the streets; where they could enjoy nature and become acquainted with it firsthand… a place where they could commune, under supervision, with their Creator and away from paths so frequently leading to delinquency.”

60 years later, perhaps the ‘streets’ have more temptations pulling our youth away from Christ. 60 years later, Camp Gray is as strong as ever, always striving to lead youth toward Christ.  5,000+ campers and retreatants come to Camp Gray each year.  They come to have fun, to make new friends, and to learn about the Catholic faith.  When they leave Camp Gray, they leave with hope.

In a world so dark
We never walk alone

Two weekends back, on September 7th, Camp Gray celebrated its 60th Birthday with an open house birthday bash complete with balloons, cake, and fun.  We were blessed with an overwhelming turnout of Camp Gray friends past and present.  200+ folks came and went throughout the day to take part in camp fun, to walk the trails, and to meet the Camp Gray staff.  The day culminated with Mass celebrated by Fr. Garrett Kau in Camp’s St. Francis of Assisi Chapel.

When Francis Gray was a kid growing up in Ireland in the 80s and 90s, he would often hear about a Catholic youth camp in America named after his great-uncle.  His great-uncle passed away in 1957, long before Francis was born.  Even still, the rest of the Gray family has followed the growth of Camp Gray, from a far, ever since. 

These days, Francis is a schoolteacher in Ireland.  It was an honor to have him at Camp Gray for the weekend to celebrate our 60th year.  When Francis arrived back in Ireland after the weekend, I received a message from him.  He was appreciative of the hospitality and kindness showed to him by the Camp Gray family, and he ended the message with, “In the words of the Camp Gray CD, ‘Bless Us for the Journey.’”


The good Monsignor’s watch was gifted to Camp Gray by Francis. Yes, it stills works!

May the road rise up to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm on your face
And the rains fall soft on your fields
Oh Lord Jesus, we pray
Bless us for the journey

Francis, thank you for the continued support of Camp Gray by you and your family. The support of the Gray family inspires us to do everything that we can to keep your great-uncle’s dream alive.

Thanks to all that joined us for Camp’s 60th Birthday Bash!  Also, thank you to all those that have played a role in making Camp Gray the Camp that it is today.  Here’s to the next 60 years – may they be better than the first!

*Text in italics are lyrics from the song, “Bless Us for the Journey,” adapted from an old Celtic Irish Blessing.  The song was written by long-time Camp Gray staffer, Ryan McGrath.  The song can be found on the CD of the same name, produced by Camp Gray.  You can find the CD on iTunes or by clicking here.

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