Life on Top of the Mountain ~ My Summer at Camp Allegheny

As Summer 2013 winds down, I find myself constantly reflecting on the incredible summer I had, a summer that was spent with some of my closest friends at a place that is often times more of my home than my actual home, Camp Allegheny.

Horse Staff 2013 – Stephanie, Ashley and I

For the third year in a row, I was on horse staff at camp, but what was different about this year was the fact that I was officially on Junior Staff.  Instead of commuting to work every day, I lived on site with two other girls (Stephanie and Ashley) who were also on horse staff.  While I was uncertain if living on site was going to be the right choice, (I feared I would miss out on making memories with my friends from school) I very quickly discovered that I had in fact made the right choice.  Because of my decision, I had by-far the best experience of my life thus far.

While on horse staff, under the direction of Head Wrangler Mike Willis, Stephanie, Ashley and I were responsible for teaching Wrangler campers aged 12 to 17 the basics of Western horsemanship, horse care, general equine knowledge, and barn management tasks.  We were also determined to show campers that what they were learning at the barn could also be related to their walk with Christ, and how to draw parallels between the challenges they faced with their horses to obstacles they may face after their week of camp ended.

But we were more than just the girls that were with the horses 24/7 (while that statement was true…).  Throughout the summer we took campers on hay rides, were evening counselors for other camps, and along with the rest of the staff, we led the two worship services held each week.  The worship services were always a highlight of my week; it was amazing to see God working in the hearts and minds of so many campers.  I like to think that what we were doing helped to plant seeds that may someday lead each camper to accept Him as their savior.

The majority of the Staff:  Stephanie, Kaitlyn, Kayla, Sarah, Josh,
Kristen, Myself, Ashley, & Kate

Throughout the nine weeks of summer camp, the rest of the staff and I became incredibly close.  It’s amazing what spending 90% of your time with a small group of people can do, and I can probably speak for the rest of the staff, as well as myself, when I say that we have all been changed for the better because of the time we spent together. Memories of all our crazy adventures, random road trips into civilization, Criminal Minds marathons, and hacky sack playing-movie watching nights will definitely stick out in my mind for a long time to come.

Although I could go on and on trying to explain what my summer was like, the truth of the matter is that unless you experience it, you don’t really “get” what being a staff member at a summer camp is like.  Sara, a fellow staff member, shared this quote on her Facebook page before the start of this summer, and I think it really sums up what we do:

“You know that you’re only making like a dollar an hour, but haters gonna hate, you’ve got the best job in the world. People on the outside just don’t understand what it means to spend your summer in the camp wild. They don’t understand that you can in fact survive on Oreos and Gatorade and that severe tan lines and bad haircuts can be sort of cool. And they’ll never experience the absolute pride of losing your voice after defeating every child in your cabin in a yelling competition, nor will they rock tie-dye like you do. People on the outside just don’t get it. But it’s okay. Because you get it, and really, that’s all that matters.

Camp Allegheny is a summer camp and retreat center located in Stoystown, Pennsylvania that is affiliated with the Western PA Conference of the United Methodist Church.  As quoted from their mission statement, Camp Allegheny’s purpose is “To provide a safe, sacred space with excellent facilities, Christian hospitality, and disciple making programs.”  In other words, they strive to provide people of all ages with a place they can call home, where they can seek and find a personal relationship with Christ in His creation.

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