By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold
With Registration for Summer Camp 2013 opening in a mere two days, I find myself reflecting more than normal on how blessed I am to be a part of a place like Camp Gray.
Aiding in this surplus of reflection are the travels I’ve been a part of these past couple weekends.
Two weekends ago I made trips to Madison, West Bend, and Barneveld to promote Camp Gray. At each stop, there were opportunities to speak to folks that had never heard of Camp Gray (while it would sure be nice if everyone already knew about Camp Gray, it’s fun to see the looks on people’s faces when they hear about all the great work the Lord is doing here). Additionally, there were many run-ins with alumni campers and staff – some of whom I knew, others I did not – all of whom were happy to see Camp Gray represented, and happy to speak about their past experiences.
The weekend began with a Friday evening trip with Jeff to Madison to spread the word about the Faith, Friends, and Fun of Camp Gray at an event being held at the Bishop O’Connor Catholic Center.
On Saturday, in yet another effort to promote Camp Gray, Darleen and I spent the day with 1,200 women at the Women of Christ Conference in West Bend. It was a joy to see so many people give a Saturday to come and grow in their faith (It’s likely rare among men that one can say they attended a Women’s Conference before they ever attended a Men’s Conference – what can I say, I’m a bit of an anomaly…).
The highlight of the weekend though, was my Sunday morning trip to Immaculate Conception Parish in Barneveld. Folks from that parish have seen in a handful of their youth the fruits of sending them to Camp Gray. They believe strongly in the life-changing mission of Camp Gray, so they organized a post-Mass gathering to promote Camp and to encourage more of their youth to attend. I was invited to attend to speak a little about Camp and to be on hand to answer questions. Current campers Collin and Zoe – parishioners at the parish – were also on hand to speak about their experiences. It should go without saying that their words and visual aids (see image to the right) trumped anything I could have said about Camp. To hear that youth recognize in themselves the impact Camp has had on them is a powerful testimony.
It was a busy weekend, but I feel blessed to have a job in which I promote and represent a place in which I believe so strongly; a place that for the last seven summers I’ve been able to witness enormous growth – in not only our campers, but also in my fellow staff and myself.
That brings us to this past weekend. Early on Friday morning, I stepped out of my home with a gym bag over my shoulder and a cup of coffee in my hand. Waiting for me outside was Jeff and Rebecca’s Toyota Sienna Minivan filled with an abundance of snacks and young children.
We were about to embark on a three day, 1,400 mile trip to visit a handful of Camp Staff Alums. First stop: Visit former staffer Theresa “Mo-T” Wilks at the Convent of the Sisters of St. Francis of the Martyr St. George in Alton, IL.
The visit with Mo-T was joy-filled and humbling. To see my old friend living her calling was a true blessing. I couldn’t be more proud to call Mo-T my friend. To be surrounded by dozens of women in habits, as I was when I attended Mass with Mo-T on Saturday morning, was also a blessing, and a powerful witness of truly living ones life for Christ.
After spending Friday afternoon and most of the day Saturday with Mo-T, we packed up the van and headed due west to our next stop: Lawrence, KS.
The baptism of John Paul Chaptman, the two-week old son of former staffers Tim and Lauren Chaptman, was taking place on Sunday morning. Timmy and Lauren asked Jeff to be John Paul’s Godfather, and they asked Lauren’s sister Kristen (another former staffer) to be the Godmother. Yet again, I felt extremely blessed, this time because I was able to witness such a huge moment for the child of my friends Tim and Lauren – who, I might add, already make terrific parents (and yes, we have a spot reserved for John Paul at Summer Camp 2019…).
Timmy and Mo-T began working at Camp Gray the summer before I did, back in the middle of the last decade, and Lauren and Kristen began working at Camp the summer after. Often, while speaking with these friends, our conversations go to funny stories and funny shenanigans from past summers, and to the enormous growth each of us have experienced by our time at Camp Gray.
The past two weekends were certainly whirlwinds – but they’ve given me much to reflect on, and much to be thankful for. One weekend was spent spreading the word about Camp Gray – promoting the fruits of Camp to the parents of future campers. The next was spent traveling with the Hoebens and their three angelic children (seriously, we were in the van a total of nearly 20 hours, and the only whining came from me when I spilled my gummy bears on to the floor…), to see those fruits in our Staff Alums: Mo-T living her vocation with the Sisters; Timmy and Lauren living theirs with their new little boy.
God willing, families from all over the state and beyond will begin registering their children for Summer Camp on Thursday. We thank you for believing in, and supporting, the life-changing mission of Camp Gray. And we thank you in advance for registering your campers for what promises to be another amazing summer of Faith, Friends, and Fun!
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