By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

Sure, there’s still an abundance of snow on the ground, and temperatures are still well below freezing. At first glance, it may seem as though we’re still in the thick of a long cold Wisconsin winter.


I wasn’t kidding.  The Hoeben’s have an igloo in their front yard.

However, after a second perusal of my calendar, it indicates that winter ends this Wednesday night at 6:00pm.

Wait. Hold the phone. We’re currently getting pummeled with upwards of 10 inches of snow and the Hoeben’s have an igloo in their front yard. How could winter be over in two days?

On Wednesday, at 6:00pm, eight of us from Camp Gray are heading south to Chicago to take part in the annual ACA MidStates Conference – and that means that definitively, winter is done.

During the second weekend of March each year, several hundred fellow camp professionals from across the Midwest attend the Midstates Conference. Attendance at the conference has yearly become a highlight for our staff, as the conference steering committee does a phenomenal job lining up inspiring and knowledgeable speakers and session instructors. These are people that specialize in all things kids, and they are people that do a great job dropping countless “knowledge bombs” (knowledge bombs are those golden-nugget-pieces-of-information that teach us how to do our jobs better) on all those in attendance.

Inevitably, on the return trip every year, we’re full of excitement for the ways we’re going to implement these “knowledge bombs” to best impact the lives of every single one of the 1,200 kids that attend Summer Camp (and the 3,000 youth that attend Camp Gray throughout the school year).

With Summer Camp knowledge bombs exploding all around us, all we can think about post-conference is summer. That’s pretty much all we think about anyway, but this conference super-charges that. Additionally, for five years running, upon our return, much of the snow at Camp has melted. Sure, this current blast of 10 inches of snow likely means Wisconsin’s two hour spring is still a ways away – but here’s hoping.

This vintage photo is from Camp's first Summer of Panda Ball - back when the pit had a sand floor.

This vintage photo is from Camp’s first Summer of Panda Ball – back when the pit had a sand floor.

Lastly, we enjoy attending the MidStates Conference each year because we learn about the newest and most exciting Camp games. For example, it was at the conference in 2011 that our staff for the first time climbed into an 8-sided wooden pit and slapped a rubber ball at each other’s legs. Who would have thought that this would be the beginning of the Panda Ball Pandemic!

We’ll be dropping tweets like they’re hot throughout our time at the conference, so feel free to hit up our twitter feed (@campgray) to read some examples of the “knowledge bombs” we’ll be learning, as well as to see images of potential new games, t-shirt designs, etc.

Oh, and one more thing for you – a Music CD update: on Sunday & Monday we’re back in the studio with Aaron to put the finishing touches on most of our songs. We are SO excited about this project. We hope YOU are, too!


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.