By: Chris “Topher” Aderhold

I could be wrong, but I’m pretty sure Summer Camp 2017 lasted a mere 34 seconds.

It doesn’t get much better than summer sunsets at Lake Jake!

The first day of Summer Camp 2017, June 4th, in reality arrived not 34 seconds ago, but 67 days ago. With the arrival of Camp came loads of excitement, joy, and certainly some nervousness. We don’t take lightly the responsibility we have in giving our campers the best, most fun, and profoundly impactful experience of their year.

Then, I blinked, and Summer Camp is over.

In those 67 days, we packed in a whole heap of goodness, and our hope and prayer is that Summer Camp 2017 was in fact the best, most fun, and profoundly impactful experience of the year for each of our 1,350 campers. As far as Summer Camp’s at Camp Gray go, one could make a strong argument that it was the best one, yet.

Allow me to attempt to be the one that makes such an argument…

Even before Summer Camp 2017 had begun; the consensus was that this was going to be a phenomenal summer. Our staff began arriving two weeks prior to June 4th for training – from 14 states they arrived bringing with them a whole heap of selflessness, goofiness, and a deep love of Jesus Christ. Already, before Summer Camp began, things were looking quite strong.

It’s difficult not to smile when you’re hanging out at Camp Gray!

Then, things just got better and better. As campers began arriving 67 days ago, the joy we’d been experiencing during staff training quickly multiplied by roughly 1,000! From that moment on, it was blink-at-your-own-risk, because chances are, when you did, you’d miss something supremely excellent.

What made Summer Camp 2017 great?! There were exciting celebratory moments, like Walter’s 65th birthday and the grand opening of our new dining hall, and there were moments that were so full of joy and love that many were brought to tears. During Summer Camp 2017 we learned that You Can Drive There and we learned that You Can Slide There. Campers were pumped every week for the delicious food, whether it was the tacos and pizza, or the meals we cooked over fires. On a more melancholy note, we had to say goodbye to Fr. Chris – he was reassigned after two years of service at Camp Gray – but we were overjoyed to welcome Fr. Jared. The Fathers time at Camp Gray overlapped by a week, so of course they were pitted against each other as Cassidy Games Chiefs (and we learned sometimes there’s more to life than winning and losing). Speaking of the Cassidy Games, there were some classic runnings of the Games, and there were new games this summer, too. Campers that were here for the 4th of July experienced an incredible Independence Day parade, and George Washington even made a detour on his trip across the Delaware. Throughout all these fun and crazy days of summer, you could find smiling and joy-filled campers at every turn. Smiles were truly ubiquitous this summer.

And on top of all this, at the heart of the mission of Camp Gray, is the love we find in Jesus Christ. The theme for Summer Camp 2017 was a quote from St. Ireanaus, “The Glory of God is man fully alive.” It can be easy to feel fully alive at Camp Gray. Our hope and prayer is that as our campers (and staffers) journey back home, they bring this joy back with them, showing our friends and family the joy we have in living a life for Christ.

A highlight of Summer Camp 2017 was our annual Independence Day parade.

A couple days ago, on Tuesday afternoon, at approximately 5:57pm, the last of our 1,350 campers from Summer Camp 2017 departed from Camp Gray. The conclusion of yet another Summer Camp at the Gray brings with it a wave of emotions, but mostly we’re just sad that it’s over.

In a couple of weeks, sometime in early September, planning for next summer will begin. While retreats, events, and other goings-ons fill our schedule during the school year, Summer Camp is never far from our minds. It truly takes nine months of planning to enhance every aspect of our operation. By mid-May, 2018, as our Summer Camp Staff begin arriving for training, we’ll be ready to rock Summer Camp 2018.

For each and every person that made Summer Camp 2017, we are eternally grateful. It’s the people that make Camp Gray Camp Gray – without your love and support of the mission of Camp Gray, we would cease to thrive. Thank you.

Lastly, in case you missed any of our phenomenal “highlight videos” from this past summer, I’ve included them on this page free-of-charge. Feel free to bounce around to soak up all of the crazy fun we had during our ten incredible sessions!

Thanks for tuning in, friends! Do you have any questions for the next installment of the wildly popular Tuesdays with Topher Mailbag? Send them here! Check out the firstsecondthird, fourth, & fifth mailbag!