Friday, January 30, 2009

Camp Gray Staff Spotlight I

By: Camp Gray

Because of the immense popularity of the “Summer Staff Spotlight” in our fall newsletter, the editors of the Camp Gray Blog have decided to adopt and adapt this exciting feature. We will not only be spotlighting our summer staff, but we will also have the occasional spotlight on members of this years Camp Gray volunteer team, as well as those folks that work and live at Camp Gray year round.

In the inagural Camp Gray Staff Spotlight - Blog Edition, we’re proud to spotlight Monica Herron. Monica has called Camp Gray home for the past two summers; first as a counselor of Settlers and Trailblazers, and most recently as a counselor of Pathfinders. If the name Monica isn’t ringing any bells, then this should jog your memory:

Monica brings an enormous amount of enthusiasm and joy to the Camp Gray staff, as well as an incredible love of Christ and the Catholic Church. We’re sure blessed to have her around. Without further adeu…. MONICA HERRON!

Camp Gray Blog: Well Monica, first off, we want to thank you for agreeing to be the inagural participant of the Camp Gray Staff Spotlight - Blog Edition! So, tell us in 1000 or less words, what have you been up to since summer?
Monica Herron: Hello Camp! It’s hard to believe it’s already January, I feel like I was just at camp! Well, that’s actually because I was. Over the New Year’s holiday we have a little staff get together, which was a wonderful way to reconnect with the awesome people we spent our summer with. It was full of laughs, praise and worship in the chapel to ring in the New Year, and even snow tubing on New Year’s Day. The only thing that could have made it better would have been campers! But at least we have this blog, so that since I wasn’t able to see all the awesome campers I hung out with this summer, at least we can reconnect through this! So, what have I been up to since camp, you ask? Well, I spend the other part of my year at Marquette University in Milwaukee. I am a senior studying biomedical science and I’m in my first year of the Physician Assistant program, which I’ll be in for two more years. Apparently you can’t major in camp counseling, so this was my #2. My program is a test of will power, (just how many hours can you study molecular pathology?) much like a good game of CTF, but I got through this past semester and even passed! While in school, I also have to make a little money, but apparently there aren’t campus jobs in camp counseling either. So instead, I work at the Marquette University Information Center (if you’re looking for a new place to prank call) and in a strange turn of events actually ended up being an undergraduate teaching assistant for a class in the Dental School (talk about a fish out of water!). You may think that life could not get much better than this, but in fact my best memories from the fall were times when I wasn’t on campus. I’m pretty involved with Campus Ministry here at Marquette, and over Halloween weekend I helped lead a retreat for my peers. This was easily the most joy-filled weekend of my fall, playing fun games, praying, and learning about our faith. It was like a weekend at camp, but for big kids. This fall I also took a little trip with some friends to the beautiful Devil’s Lake State Park for a camping trip. This included my first ride on the Merrimac ferry and of course a stop at Camp Gray. For Christmas, my family and I spent some time in our nation’s second capital, the wonderful city of Philadelphia where my dad’s side of the family lives. After some good time spent with my family and my camp family, I am ready for my second semester!
Camp Gray Blog: What are your three favorite places at Camp Gray?
Monica Herron: Top three favorite spots on camp is tough, but let’s take it from the bottom up. #3 Vinnie’s Lobby: This might seem like an odd choice, as Vinnie’s isn’t often considered the epitome of beauty at a place as beautiful as Camp Gray. However, Vinnie’s Lobby is awesome because you just never know what is going to be occurring there at any given moment. Not only can you get an experience similar to Grand Central Station every morning when every female on camp is sharing four sinks, but during a given afternoon you could walk in on the Pathfinder ladies dreaming up a dance to Hannah Montana, or settler counselors doing 5 head counts within 5 seconds, or Trailblazer girls getting ready to go on a late night secret undercover adventure with their counselors…really anything could be happening and the surprise is why I love it. #2 The St. Francis Chapel. Yes it is true that this is the only air conditioned spot on camp, but my favorite part of every week is singing out praises to God with pews bursting with spirited counselors and campers alike, each week at Mass. Mighty Mighty Savior anyone? Yep, we meet him in the Eucharist every single week, and that is awesome. (Good thing we can meet him year round in the Eucharist though…the greatest part of camp you can get every single week! Woo hoo!) #1 The Purple Trail. Now you may be running through your mind the ROYGBIV color scale and trying to place just which trail is Purple. It is true that the Purple Trail is most often encountered on your way out to the horse stables, but actually the Purple Trail wraps all the way around camp, as it is camp’s longest (and most beautiful!) trail. Pathfinders might remember it from service projects or even camping out on it at the Ruah, and other campers might have hiked it during a cool choice time. The fact of the matter is, if you are sitting in your chair right now and you have never seen the awesomeness of the Purple Trail, then I know we’ll see you back at camp this summer, because you haven’t seen camp until you’ve seen the Purple Trail.
Camp Gray Blog: You usually have some pretty great ideas, Monica. Have you had any ideas lately to spice things up at Camp Gray?
Monica Herron: I think that I would make an ice skating rink in Vinnie’s backyard. You might be thinking to youself, “Self, Monica is crazy!” but I just think it would be awesome to go ice skating in Vinnie’s backyard. Sure, the logistics of 80+ degree weather make this kind of implausible, but I think with some solid engineering we could find a way. On a hot day, what an awesome way to cool off! And just imagine the Pathfinder girls half awake and on their way to Vinnie’s in the morning, and slipping and sliding all the way there. Well…that might be a big hazard. I’ll get back to you when plans are more certain.
Camp Gray Blog: What is your favorite meal at Camp Gray?
Monica Herron: I would have to go with Thanksgiving dinner. There is nothing like turkey stuffing and mashed potatoes in the middle of July. Seriously.
Camp Gray Blog: Okay! Well, thanks for your time, Monica!
Monica Herron: It was my pleasure! Hooray for Camp Gray!

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Mission of Year-Round Programs, Part III

By: Sara Knutson

Happy January, everyone!

The Christmas holidays snuck up on me, and as a result I’m writing the conclusion to this series later than I had intended. But no worries… it just gave me more time to ruminate on the ministry we do here.

The last two posts focused on the busy routine of our school year, and that has certainly continued. Even this January, a traditionally slower month, has our volunteers facilitating retreats 10 days as well as taking their own annual 2-day retreat. And after Easter we’ll again have retreats nearly every day. So why put in such long hours and so much energy into a nine month stretch that just manages to pay for itself?

Because, simply speaking, it changes lives. Summer campers will attest that their week at summer camp is life changing, especially if they come back year after year. But not all youth are fortunate enough, due to a lack of time or finances, to spend a week at Camp Gray. The year-round program addresses those students directly, by working with them in the context of their class or youth group.

Coming to camp as a class is powerful because students see one another and their teachers outside of the routine class setting. They struggle together, pray together, and grow together, going home as a closer class with a new sense of understanding toward one another. Those lessons of tolerance, perseverance, and understanding are lifelong.

Coming to camp as a youth group or religious education class is powerful because faith becomes truly real in a very new and personal way. Often for the first time, students meet college age students who find joy, peace, growth, and challenge in their relationships with Christ, and who are cool people on top of everything else! That kind of eye-opening experience often stays with a student for the rest of his or her life.

And unlike summer camp, the year-round program often ministers to the student most in need of conversion — the one who doesn’t even want to be there. Watching these students go home with a new sense of wonder about our faith is one of the most fulfilling moments for our year-round staff.

We’re incredibly blessed here at Camp Gray to make a difference in the lives of such a great variety of youth, adults, and families during the school year. And we’re particularly blessed to have the gifts and talents of our dedicated volunteers, who give of themselves on a daily basis to serve and grow with all those who come to camp. Without them, none of this great work could be done!

Three cheers for the year-round program!

Friday, January 9, 2009

Camp Gray is on the Radio

By: Camp Gray

If you’re like many of us here at Camp Gray, you probably have your radio dial set to Country Music. If this is the case, you may have missed the Camp Gray interveiw on Madison’s Catholic Radio, Relevant Radio-which happens to be the best Catholic Radio Station east of the Mississippi. Host Brian Kelly has a weekly radio show where he talks about the events, organizations, and people of the Diocese. We have a short audio clip of the interview with our Co-Director, Jeff, and Assistant Director, Chris. It was a fun experience, and Jeff and Chris are appreciative to Brian for helping to spread the word about Camp Gray. Listen in as Jeff and Chris talk about life at Camp Gray:


Friday, January 2, 2009

Congratulations Hoebens!

By: Camp Gray

In case you haven’t heard the wonderful news, Andrew Dennis Hoeben was born on December 17th weighing in at 9 pounds and 6 ounces. The little guy put Mama & Papa Hoeben through alot as he was nearly three weeks late (making him not so little)!
Jeff & Rebecca are thankful for all the prayers and well wishers, and look forward to introducing you to their new pride and joy soon!