When the leaves start falling late in the year // when the sun grows cold there’s nothing to fear // the sky will stay in your heart if you care // the sun will shine though the earth may be bare…

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, Tristan and I are making arrangements to head to New York City to spend time with family and friends, and we’ve even ordered pies from the Floyd Country Store to bring a little taste of Southwest Virginia to our holiday celebration. And at this moment, I find myself brimming with gratitude for the summer past and for the one that lies ahead. This time between summers, when sunshine, singing, and laughter throughout camp is replaced by a peaceful, frosty, quiet, is perfect for reflecting and recharging for another amazing Summer To Remember.

As I sat on the steps of my cabin and winter office on August 5, when the last staff member had left the gates to return home, I realized that despite 7 years of training under the mentorship of former Director and current owner Colleen Hagan Egl, there is nothing that could have fully prepared me for my first summer as Director. I discovered that my love for camp, which I did not think could grow any more, had multiplied exponentially, and only continues to build each day.

At Carysbrook, as in life, we learn to expect the unexpected, not only in the mishaps or occasional deviations from plan, but also in the ordinary moments that unexpectedly turn into precious memories. I can confidently say that this summer was both the most significant learning experience of my lifetime and also the most rewarding by far. As I sat alone on that very last day of the summer, in a stark moment of transition between being surrounded by campers at work and play, and a supportive team of talented, driven, young women living and working together every day, to being the only one left at camp, it hit home just how magical what we do at camp is these days.

But the magic doesn’t just happen on its own, and for that I owe a wealth of thanks to to the campers for choosing to bring their unique, authentic selves to enrich the fabric of our community each summer, their families who trust and partner with me to make it possible for their campers to experience a Summer to Remember to the fullest, the staff for their tireless dedication to fulfilling our philosophy, and to the Camp Carysbrook Association Alumnae for encouraging and supporting me and camp in achieving our goals every step of the way. The Carysbrook family, one that spans geographical borders and generations, is a powerful force, and I am forever grateful that I have the great privilege of being an integral part of a community that has such a positive impact on the world.

Bolstered by an amazing summer in 2019, brainstorming and preparing for 2020 is well underway. There is so much to look forward to for the coming summer, and I‘ve been incredibly energized by the ongoing conversations I’ve had with various members of our camp community. I’m grateful for the communication I’ve had with camper families about their feedback and hopes for their campers that has helped me plan improvements for next summer. I’m grateful for the collaboration I’ve had with the Alumnae Association, as we work together to build a strong bridge that spans Carysbrook past, present, and future. I’m grateful for the 2020 campers, returning and new, who have chosen camp as an essential part of their summer, including the CITs, who I’ve had so much fun talking to about taking the next steps in their leadership. And I’m grateful for a driven and eager 2020 staff team that is already hard at work laying the foundation for a fun-filled, magical summer at activities, on cabin row, and throughout camp.

I believe strongly in the power of a small community of women working together toward a common mission year after year to change the world, which is why I was committed to taking on this work in the first place, after having had the great privilege of experiencing the benefits of Carysbrook as a camper. It has been an honor to get to know each and every one of you, and I look forward to many future summers together! In the meantime, I’m counting down the days ‘til Summer 2020…just 203 to go!

In the spirit of Carysbrook,



CCAA Holiday Fundraiser Ends Dec 2, 2019


CCAA Holiday Fundraiser 2019

The Camp Carysbrook Alumnae Association’s annual winter fundraiser is here! Cure your long, cold winter months camp blues by donning some new Carysbrook gear, all while supporting the CCAA Scholarship Fund to send girls to camp.

The CCAA is invested in building a bridge between past and present campers and staff, and our community has been integral in establishing ways to give back to Carysbrook. All proceeds of the winter fundraiser go to the Scholarship Fund, which in turn helps girls experience Carysbrook, regardless of economic, racial, geographic, religious, ethnic or social background.

Sale ends December 2, 2019 to ensure delivery for the holidays!

If you’re interested in international shipping, please contact Erika in the camp office.

Support now:

Announcement: Transfer of Ownership of Camp Carysbrook


A Message from the Baughmans:

“After almost 40 years operating Camp Carysbrook we have sold the business to Colleen Hagan Egl, former Carysbrook director, counselor and camper. Carysbrook will always be part of our family and we are happy to turn the reins over to a woman who shares our love of camp and empowering girls.”

Rachel Gannaway, Laura Devereux, and Sarah Baughman

A Message from Colleen Hagan Egl:

“I am forever indebted to Rachel, Laura, and Sarah for trusting me to carry on this legacy. Working with these amazing women who have been both my childhood and adult mentors as well as friends has been one of the highlights of my time at camp.

Please be assured that there will be no change to the management, policies, and most importantly the mission and philosophy of Camp Carysbrook. We will ensure that Camp Carysbrook will continue to sustain the reputation and standing built over the years, by delivering to you the same quality camp experience and customer service that you have come to expect. I intend to operate Camp Carysbrook with my proven dedication and long-standing experience in the camp industry.

This past fall I stepped down as the Director of Camp Carysbrook to allow the leadership talent I had been curating to bloom. There has been nothing quite as rewarding as seeing Erika Schlichter thrive in building a successful summer to remember in her own right. I am thrilled to operate Camp Carysbrook with someone as talented and committed as Erika in the role of Director.

I believe that we still live in a time where many of the same obstacles for women persist long past our founding in 1923 as well as a host of modern issues affecting women, making Camp Carysbrook a more crucial experience than ever for young women to explore the possibility of personal success in the world in which we live and to develop the leadership skills to navigate their own journeys. Over the years I have witnessed the power of women mentoring women, the value of traditions unique to Camp Carysbrook, and the way in which this camp continues to shape and mold the Carysbrook experience to fit the diverse needs of women from around the world.

My vision is that Camp Carysbrook continues to be the panacea for developing strong, authentic, curious, connected young women. I look forward to preserving the history of Camp Carysbrook while being nimble enough to continue to grow the experience to meet the needs of our campers and staff in accordance with the legacies of the Prestons and Baughmans. The community at Camp Carysbrook is at the heart of each summer to remember, and we are committed to continuing to earn your trust while making memories to last a lifetime.”

Opportunity to Work at Camp Carysbrook: An International Adventure

21st February 2018 15:08
*ping* 1 unread email
Subject: “Opportunity to Work at Camp Carysbrook.”



When I saw that notification on my phone, I had quite a few emotions running through me, from “I’ve been chosen” to “Why have they chosen me?”, “How do I reply?”, “Wait, can I teach girls how to Canoe?”, “I’M GOING TO AMERICA!”

To this day, I do not regret replying to that email…

The next couple of months were all hands on deck: I had to get my visa sorted, plan what lessons I should teach, refresh myself with Canoeing Courses and think, “what do I pack for Camp?” Which can be very stressful as I didn’t know what type of weather it would be and overall what to expect when I got there. Slowly but shortly, everything on my To-Do’s list was going down each day, and before I knew it, I finished my last day at work and my bag was all packed and ready to fly out on the 9th June 2018.

As I was saying goodbye to my family, it sunk in that I had finally thought about myself and took this challenge on. Of course, I had many questions running through my mind: “Will I fit in with everyone? Am I going to be socially awkward when I get there? What if I can’t teach the campers canoeing? Wait, what if the campers don’t like me? What if the staff doesn’t like me?” Many questions crossing my mind whilst I was waiting for my plane.

When actually arriving in America, it was so surreal. Not sure if it was the tiredness of the journey but everything seemed like a dream, and I couldn’t believe I was here. When we finally got to Camp it was what I expected, and the only way to describe it is the film Parent Trap: the wooden cabins, the lake with the dock and the woods surrounding the camp. At first, I was thinking, “What have I gotten myself into?” But as we all settled in and got to know each other at Staff Week, cliche as it is, I felt like I was home and I was excited to see what the next 7 weeks of camp were going to be like.



As the weeks went on, meeting all the girls who attended camp before or were trying it out to see if they liked it, I was very open minded and took the whole of camp in; especially the Campfire tradition we would have every Saturday, I was not prepared for that at first, I must admit. Even learning the songs in the Dining Hall after every meal—there was loads to learn (I will put it out there it was roughly a 50 page song book).

However, it was so rewarding teaching new campers how to Canoe and for them to be determined to come back to progress in their new skill, and so was getting to know the campers and learning about them and vice versa them learning about the different lingo we use compared to them.

Before I knew it, we were on our last week, and boy was I emotional. I think it was because I came to America with an open mind, making new friends and meeting extraordinary people, who after 8 weeks become your family, and it was hard to say goodbye to them all. Hard to say goodbye to campers who are with you for the whole summer, who impacted your summer and you impacted theirs.

I’ll never forget Camp Carysbrook, again cliche as it is, but it’ll be in my heart forever and made me the person I am today. If you are thinking of signing up or wanting to challenge yourself and have an adventure? Choose Camp Carysbrook: you’ll have a Summer To Remember.

CCAA Holiday Fundraiser 2018


The CCAA’s annual winter fundraiser is here! Cure your winter camp blues by donning some new Carysbrook gear, all while helping girls of different backgrounds attend camp.

The Camp Carysbrook Alumnae Association is invested in building a bridge between past and present campers and staff. The CCAA has been integral in establishing ways to give back to Carysbrook. The proceeds of the annual winter fundraiser go to the scholarship fund, which in turn helps send girls who may not otherwise be able to attend camp to Carysbrook.

Sale ends December 3, 2018 to ensure delivery for the holidays!

Women Making History: Camp Carysbrook, Empowering Women since 1923


On this International Women’s Day, we’d like to recognize the courageous women who pioneered Camp Carysbrook into existence and the brave women who have followed in their footsteps to fan the flames and be the light for girls and women around the world.

Katherine and Caperton Preston built the foundation for a safe place where women could thrive and grow at a time when most women were just beginning to find the confidence to follow their convictions. They recognized that finding your way and learning what you are made of in a rustic environment, without the distractions of the modern world, is an incredibly valuable education that builds the character, compassion, and confidence that is necessary to be successful. They knew that women had the potential not only to dance but also to horseback ride and to explore the world around them on wooded trails and by canoeing down the river. They created a legacy that would continue to fuel the hopes and dreams of women to realize their own unique potential off the grid and beyond the confines of any historical era. They cultivated a spirit of “noblesse oblige”, the sense that because of your privilege, your success and standing in this world, you have an obligation to give back. The countless campers they shaped into pioneering, strong women who continue to give back to our community is a testament to the Prestons.

And when Toni Baughman saw the flicker of that campfire in 1980, the history, tradition, and promise for young women to develop a sense of self-worth outside the fast pace of an ever-changing world, she rekindled the embers of the Prestons’ Carysbrook. Toni created an environment dedicated to authenticity and diversity in a world still uncertain of what that could look like. With the help of B.B. Strum, whose creativity and inspiration shined a light on Toni’s vision, Camp Carysbrook continued to be a beacon in a world becoming increasingly difficult to navigate. That legacy lives on as Carysbrook and communities around the world absorb the impact of the difference that these women’s contributions have made in the form of strong female leaders in a broad range of fields like education, environmentalism, business, medicine, sports, the arts, government, and growing the next generation of women and the men to support their success.

After Toni’s passing, the Baughman sisters, Rachel Gannaway, Laura Devereux, and Sarah Baughman, stood committed to never letting the flames die out. In a world that saw the internet, cellphones, and technology infiltrate every inch of society, disrupting our concept of all that we knew to be possible, they stayed dedicated to the vision of a safe place for girls to reboot in a natural environment and learn the skills needed to navigate the world around them.

And so the cycle continues with the passionate commitment of campers and staff who continue to carry out the mission and philosophy of Camp Carysbrook. These women spent their formative years at Carysbrook and they truly are the spark that keeps the fire going. Today and every day, we are deeply grateful for the Carysbrook founders and owners/operators, our alumnae, staff, campers and their families, all of whom recognize that there is something special about the 24149 and therefore choose to renew their commitment to outdoor adventure and the far-reaching power of a diverse community of women who believe in themselves and have the courage to forge a path for those who will come after them.

Today we celebrate the achievements of women around the world, and Erika and I are proud to continue to play a part in shaping the lives of women near and far who go on to change the world at Camp Carysbrook and beyond, in part because the community at Camp Carysbrook believed it was possible. So here’s to 95 more as we celebrate International Women’s Day!

#summer2remember #Carysbrook95
#IWD2018 #WomensHistoryMonth

by Colleen Hagan Egl

A Summer in the Life of a New Staff Member

I can still vividly remember the day that I accepted my placement at Camp Carysbrook. It was New Year’s Day.

‘Dear Olivia! Thank you for accepting your Camp America placement!’.

‘New year new me!’ I joked to my parents, but little did I know how true those words would be. Immediately once I hit accept I was flooded with an array of emotions and questions. Firstly elation and excitement, lost in thought about what an experience of a lifetime this would be, but then anticipation and doubt began to set in. Questions whirling around my head; have I made the right decision – to give up a solid job that I have been in for 2 and a half years? Will I fit in with the other staff members – everyone seems to know each other already? Will I be capable to fulfill the expectations I promised? Fear of the unknown was setting in, and for the first time in a while I was out of my comfort zone. I realised that I was leaving behind familiarity and routine to embark on this new adventure. Little did I know that this ‘adventure’ would change me in more ways than I could ever imagine.

The next 5 months passed by so fast and before I knew it I was saying goodbye to friends and family, and onboard my flight to Virginia. Although I was overwhelmed with excitement there was still a niggling sense of uncertainty and hesitation, but by the end of my first week at camp I realised why I was here. All feelings of apprehension and fear had melted away and the next 7 weeks flew by far too quickly. A day never went by that I was fed up with teaching. In fact, it was the reason that made me jump out of bed in the morning full of motivation and positivity, ready to take on the day. Being able to connect and bond with campers, impart my knowledge and share my passion / experience with horses was so empowering. But one of the best parts was that this connection not only happened through the barn. Camp’s unique structure enabled me to create connections with the rest of camp, not just with those I taught. Simple things like collecting sticks together for campfire, seeing the excitement on their face when it was time for s’mores, watch them shine in their element on performance night, listening to them talk about what activities they had visited that day, what they saw at nature, what they made at Arts and Crafts, that difficult move they learnt at dance, that backward handspring they had perfected, or simply they had tried a new activity they never imagined they could do and loved it. To me, this didn’t feel like just your average summer job, it was so much more than that. I was seeing girls transform over the duration of their time at camp, no matter how long or short their stay, gradually transitioning away from the outside world, away from peer pressure, the constant distraction of social media, body shaming, materialism and the general pressures of society. Just girls, including myself, having fun, being allowed to be themselves and embrace the environment around them.

The days seemed long, but the weeks short, and before I knew it another change over day loomed, and I was waving off sad faces, and greeting beaming smiles as the next session rolled in. Before I could blink the summer was over, and I was the one packing my case. Where had the time gone? It felt like staff week was yesterday, and now all of a sudden this group of 20 strangers that I was scared I wouldn’t ‘fit in with’ had become my camp family, supporting and guiding me through my 7 week journey.

Who knew you could learn so much about yourself that you didn’t before in just 7 weeks?

Camp taught me skills like the importance of organisation, the attributes of a respected leader, how to manage a team effectively, how imperative communication is for smooth operation, how utilising a simple 5 minutes of your time to debrief each camper after a session made them feel important and individual. But camp not only taught me new skills, it made me realise skills I already had, that I am a strong, resilient woman, who is flexible and able to adapt to change and new challenges, that I am a role model to my campers and that they aspired to be like the staff who taught them, that I am capable of thinking on my feet, using my own initiative to problem solve and manage my own stress and emotions as well as others around me, that I am compassionate, empathetic, patient and encouraging which altogether enabled me to become a competent and confident coach not only at the barn, but in my cabin and throughout camp. It made me realise that it’s okay to not be at my peak everyday because we are all human, but, most importantly, camp taught me to embrace individuality and uniqueness, to not blend in with the crowd because, after all, there is only one you.

Since camp has ended I have become more focused and driven to step out, make my voice and opinions heard. To not sit back and watch life pass me by, but to venture out and achieve the goals I have set myself. That just one person has the ability to impact and change the world; take every opportunity and grab it with both hands. So if you were like me, hesitant and apprehensive about taking that leap of faith, then throw caution to the wind, because if I could give every girl the opportunity to spend a summer at Carysbrook to find themselves, like I have done, then I would.

Liv Smith, Staff 2017

A Black Girl at Camp



I could say that being one of few Black American girls at a predominately white camp was like being one of a few brown eggs in a huge basket of white eggs.  Or, that being at Carysbrook made me feel aware of my status as a minority ethnic group in America. However, it just wouldn’t be true and Carysbrook girls don’t lie. I remember bursting at the seams with excitement when it came time to return to camp each summer so much so that I almost couldn’t sleep.  I will never forget the numerous calls and check-ins between the “D.C. Moms” (moms of the African American girls) for last minute items and for confirmation of the time of the “T.C. Williams/Carysbrook Pick-up”. I knew that my urban-Black, only-child, Washington, DC. lifestyle was night-and-day different from that of most of my camp friends. Nonetheless, it was uniquely mine and “it” along with my trunk and duffle bag were headed up the mountain to Riner, VA.

Anticipation and delight overcame me as I wondered which of my Carysbrook friends would return that summer. These girls were my sisters and friends and we relished our fun times spent together. I loved them and they loved me and that was all that mattered. As a kid, I didn’t worry about whether I’d stand out as one of the only African American girls or if I’d be popular because of it. I didn’t worry about making the quick-shift transition from my all-Black, urban, D.C. community (that raised me) to my all-White, somewhat folksy, rural Virginia one(that enriched me). Nope, my only concerns were how I was going to get out of going to the barn for riding lessons and if my braided hairstyle would hold up until Banquet.  

Later on in my life, I would realize that my camp friends, counselors, and directors saw the charm, wit, spunk, and creativity that set me apart and they encouraged it. Even at a young age they made me feel free to be uniquely me. These attributes would later be the foundation upon which my character, confidence, and leadership skills were built. Although we were at times as different as we were the same, my Carysbrook girls never saw me as a Black girl from Southeast, DC. Instead, they saw me as a camp friend and a sister, for I too was Carysbrook. Camp Carysbrook remains woven into my spirit just as much as I am woven into her history. Carysbrook continues to be the colorful fabric of my childhood from which many of my dreams and aspirations were created. Still in my life today, I hold the memories, lessons, and experiences of Carysbrook within my heart and I’m determined to pass them on.

by Joyi Levata Better-Rice, Camper 1986-1991

DC Public Libraries Program Associate

Museum Programs Associate for Old Historic Alexandria VA

The Benefits of A CIT Summer To Remember


As parents we are tasked with raising our children to leave us, and to leave us well. From the moment they are born we begin our journey of giving them one of the greatest gifts they will ever receive—independence. It’s not an easy task, for we want to hold on so tightly. How we go about preparing for this inevitable independence varies widely of course. It’s a deeply personal journey that evolves over time as we become better acquainted with our children and their needs.

For me, I always knew I’d only have one child, and I was judged harshly for that decision by many. But others’ opinions mattered not and I promised myself, and my daughter, that while I would protect her fiercely, I would also let her bloom and experience life as best she could when she was ready. I’ve been told that it is a more difficult to let go as the parent of an only child, which may be true, but it hasn’t deterred either one of us from that path.

When Haley was little she did not want to be around other children much—that was solely her choice.  I arranged the obligatory play dates, the Brownie and Girl Scout meetings, the team sport tryouts—all of which she dutifully undertook but never loved. Haley was a solitary child and she did things on her terms. She would resist something with all her might and then one day make a decision to go big. That is how Camp Carysbrook came into our lives.

She decided it was time to attend a summer camp, one that specifically included horseback riding lessons. She did the research and decided for herself that a camp that stressed the importance of going back to a more simple time, that did not emulate a luxury hotel, that was specifically for girls and their empowerment, that stressed leadership and loyalty and kindness, and that prepared girls for lives as strong, accomplished young women was Camp Carysbrook.

Each year at camp she stayed a little longer, and I had to say goodbye for a longer period of time and communicate via written letters only. Each year she gained more confidence, met more people, built stronger bonds with both staff and campers, and earned larger leadership roles. Camp Carysbrook recognized her honor and integrity, and now if she ever feels down or overwhelmed, she remembers the promises she made to herself and to others and becomes emboldened.

Most recently this past summer, as a 16-year-old counselor-in-training (CIT), one of only 10 girls selected for this rigorous program, Haley was excited to take on the numerous duties and leadership roles involved in learning how to be a counselor. Did she have some doubts? Sure, especially when she heard her non-camp friends talking about the amazing vacations they would take, the endless hours they would spend sleeping until noon, the electronics they would be able to access, and the carefree times they would enjoy with no schedule in sight. She would have none of that.

But what she has now is sisters for life. She has skills and coping mechanisms that will carry her always. She has the ability to lead and to inspire. She has confidence and poise. She has an understanding of what it means to not always succeed but to keep trying. She has the desire and willingness to work hard.  And she has independence, most recently demonstrated by a solo trip she took to Germany for a week.

Camp Carysbrook is a gift we give our daughters and we all reap the benefits…

by Pamela Lessard, Parent

All I Needed to Know I Learned as a WIT


by Tori Cook, WIT 2016

Coming back for WIT year (Worker-In-Training) was a decision that I struggled with. Being a WIT is not something you just decide to do on a whim. It’s a significant time commitment, at a time in life when time is hard to find with college applications, internships, service, clubs, and sports. Most of my friends didn’t understand my decision to go to camp when I could be interning at NASA or earning more money or going to the beach or applying to colleges like they were. However, I’m so glad I decided to be a WIT because I got so much closer with my fellow WITs, I learned professional and interpersonal skills, and I had an unforgettable experience.

Coming back as a WIT, I felt extremely nervous and extremely excited. I was nervous because I was going into the program as a 16 year old, and I didn’t know if the campers and my fellow counselors would take me seriously. I was also nervous because I had no experience as a counselor and I was always asking questions. I was excited because I had most of the tools from CIT year and I would finally be able to use them.



Whether it’s rain, campers, or equipment, something unexpected almost always complicates your well-laid plans. In facing unexpected challenges, like a thunderstorm that terrifies campers or trying to plan a camp-wide game of kickball with only two balls, I learned to roll with the punches and adapt to changing situations. While it’s always good to have a backup plan, it’s impossible to plan for every eventuality. Being able to quickly and calmly change plans is a great skill to have at camp and in life.

Strength in Diversity

My co-counselor Lena, who was from Germany, and I were very different. At first, the language and cultural divides made it difficult for us to work together. However, I believe that differences should be viewed as an asset instead of a setback. Inclusion is what makes Carysbrook so special. When we work with others that are different than us, we learn so much. Being so different than Lena meant that we thought differently. We each had different ideas and different ways to solve a problem. This proved to be extremely beneficial in our cabin, and I’m so glad I got to work with her. It’s easy to let differences divide you, but WIT year taught me how important it is to let differences unite you.


One of the ways I changed between my CIT year and my WIT year is I became much more accountable. As a CIT I was always working in a group, whether it was on Banquet or our service project, and responsibility was shared. I always did my part, but I never really understood what it meant to be accountable until I got to WIT year and I was on my own. Suddenly I had to be responsible for two activities, six campers, and a service project. I learned not only how to do what was expected of me, but to take responsibility and find a solution when I couldn’t.

Camp is for the campers

At face value, this seems obvious. Camp is all about the campers. What I discovered in my year as a WIT is that creating fun for the campers ends up being the most fun of all.

Transitioning from CIT summer to WIT summer is interesting because it’s not what you expect at all. From CIT year, I knew all the buzzwords: engagement, awareness, communication, collaboration, camp is for the campers, etc., but WIT year helped me apply them. If CIT year was learning to speak Spanish, WIT year was living in Spain.

The CIT program was just what I needed to be confident in my WIT year, but still left so much room for growth. At a time of transition in my life, my WIT experience was exactly what I needed. I took away so many lessons from my WIT experience, ones that I am able to use even outside the camp community. The flexibility, accountability, communication, and empathy I learned at camp will help me for the rest of my life. All CITs need to come back for their WIT year to truly understand what camp really means, and to gain skills that will serve them long after they leave the 200 acre woods.