St. George’s Session I kicked off on Thursday, July 10 with first-timers everywhere, but not all first-timers were campers. Sure, the camp for 8- and 9-year-olds was full of girls and boys coming to St. G’s for their first on-the-mountain experience. But many of the seasoned 9-year-olds who attended last year were ebullient with welcome and invitation for kids and adults new to the St. G’s experience. What evangelists!
Anticipation was high as campers filled the pavilion, eyed the sparkling swimming pool, calculated how strenuous the hike to their cabins might be, and gauged the potency of those looming grey clouds behind North Mountain. (Answer: pretty darned wet and blustering loud if you were still under the pavilion when it crept over.)
Questions echoed under the tin roof and through the canopy of trees as campers and parents caught their first sight of camp.
“We’re going up there? But where are the cabins? I can’t see them!”
“Is Cabin Seven a cool cabin?”
“Thanks, Mom. I’m good. See ya!”
First time parents breathed deeply hiking up the hill with bags and younger siblings in tow. After kissing and hugging their campers farewell for the week, many parents breathed even more heavily, with a hesitating gate, on the way down
First time grandparents were also in abundance. Many couldn't count the number of trips they’d made bringing their children up the mountain to St. George’s over the years. And here they were back again to introduce an oldest grandchild to the dearly-held traditions and zaniness of St. G’s.
Bishop Ted Gulick, former camper, counselor and assistant director, brought his own grandson to the mountain this year for first session. He then stayed on for his first time back in an official capacity at St. George's in over 40 years, serving as the Session I chaplain.
With registration over and parents gone, campers made their first trip down the mountain for their first supper at camp. Inseparable friendships were already becoming a texture of their community. The bonds between many campers were being knit on that path between cabin and table, entwined like the body strings the camp would tie together in days ahead.
Now that campers are back at home for the first time in a week, hair is combed for the first time in a week, and family hugs abound for the first time in a week, I have a hunch that something else is a first-thing on many minds and hearts, too: “When do I get to go back to St. G’s?”
Play along! Tell us your favorite "St. G’s first" in the comments section below.
By Julie Simonton
Julie Simonton is the officer for congregational development and stewardship for the Diocese of Virginia. Before joining the staff at Mayo House, Julie was the lay associate minister for family ministries and parish life at Grace, Alexandria. Julie has served on diocesan committees in Hawai`i, as adjunct instructor at Virginia Theological Seminary, on lay staff at Christ Church, Alexandria, and in a variety of international education positions in Germany and Virginia.
She takes her family to Shrine Mont every chance she gets and can’t wait for her oldest child to be old enough for camp in 2017.
Spreading the good news of Shrine Mont Camps into the Valley of the World.
The View from the Mountain is written by a rotating cast of staff writers and contributors.