By: David Earleywine
‘Tis the season for turkey, mashed potatoes, and stuffing. ‘Tis the season for Thanksgiving. And with Thanksgiving comes thanksgivings.
On Fridays, after a joyous week of summer camp, our 60 staffers circle up on our basketball court (BBC) for a staff meeting. A long-standing tradition at these meetings are thanksgivings: a chunk of time devoted for staff to express their gratitude for the many awesome works of their fellow staff. It is a time to reflect on the joyful, humbling, and arduous moments that occur throughout the week. These thanksgivings often range from the humorous to the heartfelt. Well, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we here at Camp Gray would like to share some of our thanksgivings.
First of all, we have a thanksgiving for summer camp. Summer camp is always such a blessing and it is incredible to minister to 1300+ campers and 60 staff every summer. It is why many of you have fallen in love with Camp Gray. It is the reason many of us working here have fallen in love with Camp Gray. The joy, the community, and the faith are all what draw us to summer camp. Specifically, I have a thanksgiving for Summer 2018 which included the opening of The Ark –our new gymnasium, the 3rd annual Independence Day parade, and even a quest to find Beauty, Truth, and Goodness around Camp! Summer 2018 was so epic, Walter made a recap to capture all the craziness!
Next, we have a thanksgiving for the amazing response we have seen over the last few weeks with our 7th Annual International Wear A Camp Gray T-Shirt Day (IWACGTSD!) and Registration for Summer 2019! That week showed us just how fortunate Camp is to have thousands of supporters spread across the country and the world. We had supporters from 18 states (we would like to add the other 32 next year!) and four continents (North America, South America, Africa, and Europe) submit photos for IWACGTSD. Registration for Summer 2019 filled at an unprecedented rate. We were certainly humbled by the response and affirmation of the work we do here at Camp.
We also have a thanksgiving for our amazing Servant Leadership Team. These devoted folks have spent the last three months serving the mission of Camp Gray. Since arriving at Camp, they led 35 retreats ranging from environmental stewardship retreats, teambuilding retreats, and confirmation retreats. Through those 35 retreats, 1400+ campers had their lives impacted by our SaLT crew. Our missionaries live out the joy of the Gospel, and strive to help everyone who sets foot on Camp encounter Jesus Christ. These selfless individuals strive to live out the part of our mission prayer which states, “We are your hands and feet here on earth. We are the only image of You that some people may ever see. Let us shine forth that image perfectly so that people may see the good that we do and give glory to God.”
Lastly, we have a thanksgiving for you, the Camp Gray family. At risk of being cliche, you are what makes Camp Gray great. Whether you are a longtime camper, staff member, camper parent, generous donor, or friend of Camp Gray, we could not survive without you. Campers: you are at the center of our mission. Staff members: you help everyone who steps foot on these 225 acres encounter Jesus. Parents: thank you for entrusting your children with us. Donors: your incredible support helps us to increase our capacity and keep Camp going for another 65 years. Friends: every ounce of support and prayer is appreciated.
So, when you gather ’round the table on Thursday, before you dig in to the feast of cranberry sauce, sweet potatoes, and pumpkin pie, do something for us. Be sure to give thanksgiving for the many good things in your life and for the many blessings that are to come. For in the words of our summer patron, Bl. Solanus Casey, “Thank God ahead of time.”
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!