By: Jeff Hoeben
“We come, we serve, we move on. This is the life of a Camp Gray Staffer.”
A staff alum once uttered these words.
He continued, “Most of us won’t be remembered a few years from now. And that’s okay. If we leave this place better than when we found it, we’ll join a long legacy of great people that gave much to this wonderful place.”
I’ve forgotten who said them, but I think of these words anytime a Camp Gray full-time employee decides that his or her time on the mountain has come to an end.
After nearly nine years of faithfully serving behind-the-scenes (and occasionally in-front-of-the-scenes), Nathan Heit, Camp’s Property Manager, will soon be moving on from Camp Gray.
He was no stranger to Camp Gray when he first began serving here – Nate had been a camper for many years as a kid, and his family has been heavily involved for eons. Though he wasn’t new to Camp Gray, the circumstances surrounding his arrival were perhaps a first in the long history of Camp Gray.
After serving for six years in the U.S. Army, including a tour in Iraq, Nate came to Camp Gray ready to serve in new ways, putting away the camo for carhart. The unique part was that for the first several months of his time at Camp, he was still technically active duty with the U.S. Army. Nate had saved up several months of leave over his six years of service, and rather than using it to vacation somewhere sunny and warm, he returned to his home state ready to give back to Camp Gray.
If memory serves, there wasn’t much of a plan in place for Nate during those early months – he simply wanted to serve, and we were happy to have him serve. Maybe he’d stay a few months or a year.
He jumped right in, helping in the kitchen, leading retreats, and working with Tom over in maintenance. He fit right in, his easy going demeanor and his can-do attitude serving as an example to the entire staff.
There was nothing Nate wouldn’t do to help out Camp, but he seemed to gravitate to working with Tom. Tom took Nate under his wing, teaching him the ropes of maintenance. The timing of Nate’s arrival couldn’t have been more perfect, as Tom was hoping to trim back his hours around Camp. With Nate here, Tom knew that Camp was in good hands.
In addition to daily upkeep and unclogging the occasional toilet, Nate tackled several massive projects over the years. He, along with Tom, remodeled all of the out cabins at Camp, they painted each building – inside and out – they built the tables and benches for the new dining hall, they built a yurt, and the list goes on and on. Plus, and this is no small thing: Nate was serving as our Property Manager during the greatest renovation improvement era of Camp’s 67 years of existence. When two massive buildings are added to the property, you need a quality Property Manager to help navigate that transition. Thankfully, we had a superb Property Manager.
He’s leaving for an opportunity to work with family, but he’s staying local. He and his wife Katie live with their son Norman in nearby Lake Delton, where Nate can also be found serving as a volunteer on the Lake Delton Fire Department.
Even still, we’ll miss him around these parts; we’ll miss work ethic, his knowledge of Camp, his example of service, and his contagious laugh.
If you know Nate, then you know he’s not the kind of guy that wants a lot of attention heaped upon him, so I should probably cut myself off. I’ll wrap this up by expressing my most sincere gratitude for all of the Nate has done for Camp Gray over the years. There’s no doubt that he is leaving Camp Gray better than he found it.
Thanks for everything, Nate. You, and your service to Camp Gray, will not be forgotten.