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,