By: Erin Moran
I am hesitant to say that being a camper at Camp Gray has changed my life. Now before you start thinking that this statement is because Camp Gray has not had an impact on my life, let me squash those thoughts. I can’t say that my life, as I know it, has been changed by the magnificent 225 acres of land called Camp Gray, because I simply don’t know what my life would be like without Camp Gray.
Let’s take a journey back 12 years to the fourth year of the 21st century: my first year as a camper. I vividly remember my mother telling me about this mysterious place for the very first time. My older sister and I were peeking over her shoulder as she showed us a photo slideshow of a Summer Camp she heard about from family friends. I don’t know what it was that convinced me that this was an experience I wanted, but I’d like to publicly thank my 6-year-old self for courageously deciding to go to Camp Gray.
Although my brief time as a ‘pioneer camper’ at Camp Gray that first summer included a very noisy clicking fan and a wee bit of homesickness, there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be going back the following summer. Sure enough, each and every summer from then on was highlighted with those joyous days (or weeks!) spent at Camp Gray. As I grew up and made my way through the many programs Camp has to offer, I was filled with a great love for God and my Catholic faith through the friends I made and the fun adventures we experienced. When I was younger, I didn’t realize why I loved Camp Gray so much. I knew that it was certainly a special place, but what made it that way? I attributed my favorable reviews to things like fishing for Walter in Lake Jake and the lively and delicious meals in the Pavilion. I now understand that my deep connection with Camp Gray stems from the true love and joy that encompasses each and every person there. Camp Gray is truly a family brought together by God.
Sending my three sisters and I to Camp Gray every summer was not always easy for my parents, but I’d like to think it’s the best decision they’ve ever made. The way Camp Gray has shaped and brought my family together is something I’m extremely thankful for. The lessons my sisters and I have learned by being campers are unparalleled to anything else we could have ever experienced. We’ve developed a greater understanding of our faith, made meaningful friendships, and gained numerous role models from within the staff. When I think of my favorite part of Camp, it always comes back to the people. The friendships formed are unlike any other because of the foundation that is built with God. Growing up and having the staff at Camp Gray to look up to and to go to for advice and guidance is something that has always been immensely valuable to me. Although many of my past counselors are nameless in my memory, the impact they’ve had on my life is tremendous.
Recently, someone asked me which of my summers at Camp Gray was my favorite. I was puzzled at first trying to compare so many vastly different experiences. Each program I participated in found it’s way into my life exactly when I needed it. Summers spent as a Settler and Trailblazer were filled with faith, fun, and friends in a way I couldn’t have experienced anywhere else. I developed my sense of home at Camp through competing for the coveted ‘Golden Dustpan’, mountain biking Camp’s gorgeous trails, and singing catchy songs at campfires. My time as a Pathfinder was essential to my transition to high school and the turbulent emotional times that come along with growing up. Weeks spent as a Voyageur helped spark my passion for the outdoors and gave me the courage to attend an environmental semester school during high school. Being an Explorer living in ‘The Vil’ helped me better understand the role I have as a daughter of God and it aided me in becoming more mature in my faith. The three amazing weeks I spent with the Leaders-in-Training program was important in my formation of a young adult and gave me a crucial skill set as I tackled leadership roles in other aspects of my life.
A few weeks ago, I cheerfully accepted a position to be on staff for this upcoming summer at Camp Gray. As I navigate through my feelings towards this I find my heart full of great joy, thankfulness, and humility. Knowing I will be spending a whole summer at one of my favorite places on Earth is unbelievable, but it is not about me. I am not working at Camp Gray so that I, Erin Sue Moran, can have a fun and exciting summer. I am working at Camp Gray because I want Camp’s 1,300 campers to have the best experience possible. Having an opportunity to potentially become a ‘nameless counselor’ to a camper who may, in 12 years, be finding herself in my exact situation, is something I look forward to. I want this summer’s campers to know and understand why Camp Gray is such a superb place to be. I want them to deepen their relationship with God. I want them to have fun. I want them to go home at the end of the week already counting down the days until next summer. I want these campers to know they have a home at Camp Gray, and I want to welcome them into the Camp Gray family.
I feel so overwhelmingly blessed to be experiencing Camp Gray in a new way. I cannot imagine the person I would be today without the incredible lessons I’ve learned at Summer Camp at Camp Gray. The tremendous desire I have in serving at Camp Gray stems from each and every moment I’ve spent being the one served. Each staff member that comforted me when I was homesick, prayed for me as I grew in my faith, and cooked my many bowls of spaghetti has helped prepare me for this journey. Being the recipient of those things has ignited a great desire in me to give back to the community of believers at Camp Gray – a place that has woven itself into many aspects of my life. I could not imagine a better way to say ‘thank you’ to those 225 acres of beauty than by taking my turn serving at Camp Gray.