By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

It’s May of twenty fifteen!

Full disclosure: It was back in the early autumn of 2014 that I first announced that the fourth installment of the semi-regular Tuesdays with Topher Mailbag would soon be posted. My apologies for the delay. (I invite you to read the first, second, and third mailbags!)

Countless grandioso questions have flooded my mailbox over the course of the past many months, and for that, I thank you! The Mailbag feature is my favorite Tuesdays with Topher feature. Seriously. If I had the time, and if enough questions were sent my way, it’d be an honor to answer your questions weekly!

Anywho, as always, these are real questions from real people – only the answers are at times slightly embellished.

Thanks for reading!

Q: What band/performer would you most like to see play a concert on the Athletic Field at Camp?
– Doug U., Verona, WI

I’m going to see your question and raise it. Concert? How about a festival?

Picture this: Tom and Nate build a stage in the SE corner of the Athletic Field. We turn this into a multi-day Camp Gray music festival – perhaps we call it Graylapalooza!

Graylapalooza will run from a Thursday – Sunday. Folks pay a flat rate – we’ll say $65. There’ll be designated spots around Camp’s property that attendees can set up tents, and three times a day, meals will be served in Camp’s dining hall. (Thanks Virginia!)

Who is playing Graylapalooza?

Go Garth!

Go Garth!

Let’s shoot for a tantalizing mix of country, Christian, and blues: Garth Brooks, Matt Maher, The Ryan McGrath Band, Blake Shelton, Eric Church, Rend Collective Experiment, Needtobreathe, and Mumford & Sons, to name just a few. Days will be filled with Camp activities (rock climbing with Mumford!), while the evenings will be chock-full of delightful live music.

On Sunday evening, Graylapalooza will conclude with a running of the Cassidy Games! Chiefs will be chosen amongst the band members present, and those in attendance will be split into the two teams. Imagine Garth Brooks and Blake Shelton as the Chiefs for the Blue and the Red, respectively.

At Camp Gray, we simply refuse to dream small.

Graylapalooza? Who’s in?

Q: This question is for Walter: If you suddenly sprouted legs from your somewhat slimy fish belly and could walk around during summer camp, what would be the first thing you would do?
– Dan S., Orange, N.J.



Thanks for the question, Dan!
To get to the bottom of your question, I took a stroll down to Lake Jake to discuss it with Walter. Unfortunately, though I called to him for well over an hour, he never responded. I took the liberty of sketching what it would look like if Walter could sprout legs, and as you can see, he’s horrifying. So though I don’t have a legitimate answer from Walter, I can tell you this: I’d guess he wouldn’t be able to do much, because once any normal human saw Walter – our gargantuan resident fish – strolling towards our Main Camp Area, there would be more trepidation and fear than if a herd of elephants arrived unannounced onto our property.

Q: Kevin Durant. Barry Sanders. Andrew McCutchen. You get to have dinner and an activity with one of them. Who and why?
– Matthew, Edmond, OK

Kevin Durant!

Oftentimes on Friday evenings during Summer Camp, our staff – though we’re exhausted beyond comprehension from another phenomenal week impacting the lives of hundreds of young people – compete in multiple games of pick-up basketball. Teams are picked in various ways; sometimes we split them up by height. Sometimes teams are divided by vocation – lay people vs. religious. Sometimes it’s folks from Wisconsin versus those from outside of the state.

Perhaps, with Kevin around, we could split into teams like this:

Kevin and Topher vs. everyone else.

You know how when kids play driveway basketball, they’ll announce that they want to play like certain pro players by saying things like, “I’m Michael Jordan and you can be Horace Grant.” If I want to be Kevin Durant, but I’m playing with Kevin Durant, could we both be Kevin Durant, or would he have to be someone else? He can be Russell Westbrook.

Afterwards, Kevin and I would go eat a Culver’s kid’s meal. I’d tell him about the greatness of the butter burger, and he’d tell me about the downtown OKC parade route that he and the Thunder will travel to celebrate the NBA Championship in June, 2016.

Q: Which Catholic football (soccer) player would stand to best improve Camp Gray’s chances of victory in this year’s Camp Chi tilt?
– Timmy C., Lawrence, KS

If you’re unaware, the staff of Camp Gray compete in a soccer game against the staff of nearby Camp Chi each summer. While we took Game 1, we’re on a bit of a losing streak, barely losing Game 2 in a penalty kick shoot-out, and then losing convincingly in Game 3.

Sweet socks, Clint!

Sweet socks, Clint!

Help is needed, and thankfully there is no shortage of Catholic footballers around the world, considering much of South America, Spain, & Italy are filled with people that are both Catholic and phenomenal soccer players. Heck, the two best footballers in the world, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, are both Catholic.

However, I consider myself a patriotic fellow, so as a loyal patriot, my choice couldn’t be anyone but American Clint Dempsey. Yes indeed, the hard-nosed, heart of the US Soccer Team is a Roman Catholic. He’s spoken about his faith before saying, “I play to the best of my abilities and am thankful for the many opportunities and amazing success God has given me. Through it all, I want to do right, not make mistakes, and live a life that is pleasing to Him.”

Boom goes the dynamite, amiright?

Q: As a concerned parent of a CG camper, I am wondering if you have an emergency plan in the event of a herd of elephants arriving unannounced on C.G. property?
– Peggy W., Mechanicville, New York

The trick here is to develop a plan for a herd that shows up unannounced, for those that show up announced are easier to manage, and there’s more time to plan for their arrival.

In the event that a herd of elephants arrive unannounced on C.G. property, we have a plan. Underneath Rebecca’s desk, folded down into a 2-foot by 2-foot by 2-foot box, is a “3-Ring-Circus-In-A-Box.”

This is not real. It is only a dramatization.

This is not real. It is only a dramatization.

By simply opening the top of the box and removing its contents, somehow, someway a big top tent with three rings and a trapeze artist appears.

We’ve fortunately never had an unannounced herd of elephants arrive. I’ll be honest with you: I’ve wanted several times to test the guarantee of the 3-Ring-Circus-In-A-Box: “Open this box for a 3-ring circus. Guaranteed.”

Maybe this is the summer…

Q: The NFL has been long rumored to be establishing a franchise in the United Kingdom. If Camp Gray were ever to ‘expand’ overseas, where would you like the first expansion Camp to be located?
– Beth, Madison, WI

The NFL wants a team oversees because they want to expose the UK and beyond to American football – they want all of Europe to tune in on Sundays this fall to watch Tony Romo lead the Cowboys to the Super Bowl. The more exposure they get, the more fans they’ll have, and ultimately, the more money they’ll make.

Here’s some real talk for you:

At Camp Gray, kids see – in a real and tangible way – HOPE. The NFL wants to expand because they’ll make more money. Expansion of a new Camp Gray wouldn’t be for us to receive more; rather, it would be for more kids to be exposed to HOPE!

In the movie, Shawshank Redemption (Fr. Garret’s all-time favorite movie, btw), Andy tells Red, “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things…”

Friends, it’s a scary world. Sometimes we’re made to believe that life is all sunshine and butterflies. There is so much fighting and hatred in this world. This is why we need HOPE – it is a good thing, maybe the best of things.

Of course, Camp Gray didn’t invent HOPE, and we’re far from perfect, but we’re a place that strives to show kids the JOY of Christ. We’re just the salesmen. Hope comes from God. Hope is knowing that regardless of the height of our highs or the depths of our lows, we have a Lord that loves us. Hope is knowing that life is dinner and that a delicious and scrumptious dessert is to come.

Hope at Camp Gray is dozens of fun and goofy young-adult staff members waking up every day with one thought on their mind: “How can I be CHRIST to our campers today?”

We don’t need more Camp Grays, but we do need more HOPE. We need more people loving each other like Christ.

Perhaps we do need more Camp Grays…

Q: Favorite swimming pool game?
– Pat, Dubuque, IA

It’s called THE BUCKET GAME.


The Bucket Game isn’t a good game – it’s a great game.

Two 5-gallon plastic buckets.
A plethora of tennis balls.
Two kick boards.
4 or more people.

Object: Knock over the other teams bucket.

Divide the swimming pool into two sides. Divide all participants into two even teams.

Place one bucket on each end of the pool.

Draw an imaginary line in the middle of the pool, dividing it into two sides. One side is for Team A and the other is for Team B. You cannot cross the imaginary line into the other teams side.

Each team should elect a “goalie” to stand in front of the bucket – they’ll be armed with a kickboard.

Next, scatter the tennis balls (or soccer balls, basketballs, dodge balls, racquetballs, etc.) throughout the pool area.

To start the game, everyone in unison needs to shout, “TROPICAL POOLS!”

Once this is yelled, you may begin chucking balls from your side of the pool towards the bucket on the far side, attempting to knock over the bucket. Play until one team knocks over the bucket. At that point, simply set the bucket back up and begin again.

The Bucket Game isn’t a good game. It’s a great game.

Q: If you were a Star Wars character, which one and why?
– John A., Middleton, WI

Happy belated Star Wars Day!

Please raise your hand if you’re excited for the release of Star Wars VII…

Yeah, me too!

If I were a Star Wars character, I’d have to go with Han Solo. The guy’s best friend is a big walking carpet, and he once made the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs. Additionally, he’s confident, selfless, caring, adventurous, and he’s a phenomenal leader. (Get off my plane!)

Countdown to The Force Awakens: 227 days.

Friends! It’s always a pleasure answering your questions! Thanks for reading this badboy to its conclusion! In just two short weeks, I’ll be posting what will likely be the final Tuesdays with Topher blog post until autumn!

If you have questions for the next semi-regular Tuesdays with Topher Mailbag, please email me here!