Staff Spotlight!

Alright. Well, it seems that unless you've already been here this summer you may not know our new staff yet! So... 

I've decided to dedicate this blog to our troops in the trenches - our crews in the cabins - the brave souls who bunk with the campers and "occasionally" (as in everyday) unclog toilets... the cabin staff!

If this is your first time hearing about them, don't feel like you've been left out - the whole position is brand new this year and it's our first time having paid cabin staff at our camp since we started fifty years ago (50 years!? What!?) in 1966! Each week of camp is ran by camp deans - usually ministers, youth ministers, or just camp-loving adults who find volunteers to help staff their weeks of camp. We call these volunteers counselors, as well as cabin moms and cabin dads, because like campers' parents back home, someone has to make sure that kids being kids doesn't turn into kids getting hurt. NGCC has always been fortunate with the quality adults who have volunteered weeks of their vacations in the summers to hang out with sweaty, many times non-showering (or pool-showering) campers, serving the camp and showing students how to live a life following Jesus. So why hire a bunch of college students to do what we've always been so blessed by with our volunteer counselors? Simply put, after last year's record breaking attendance, the directors and executive board met and said, "This summer was AWESOME, so how do we make it even better next summer?" And, with that, the idea of hiring permanent cabin staff was born. This idea wasn't invented because we thought the volunteer staff were doing a bad job - that's not the case at all! - it was just that we thought having paid representatives of the camp who were more informed and responsible to the camp's rules and policies could only strengthen our summer camp programs, making sure the interest of the campers would for sure be met with utmost priority. So, we decided to handpick a group of college students, most of whom grew up at this camp and later volunteered as counselors week after week, to be the camp's first ever group of permanent cabin staff.  

Here's a quick rundown of the cabin staff's responsibilities and what they do from week to week. Basically, their job is to always be with the campers. This means being with the campers during meals, during pool time (no matter how scratched the backs become with kids climbing all over them), during worship sessions and messy kickball, and even being with the campers when one forgets something in the cabin after they've just walked up and down from the cabin with that same camper who already forgot something else... They lead their kids as group leaders and as cabin moms and dads. They set a positive example for their campers and lead them toward Christ, and at the end of the week, they clean their cabin real good and get ready for the next week where they'll do it all over again. (And I confidently speak on behalf of all the kitchen staff when I say that we do not mind, at all, the fact that the cabin staff took our jobs as cabin-cleaners at the end of each camp week... Seriously, I've pulled enough hair out of girls' cabin shower drains for a lifetime...) Anyway, being with campers nonstop for 24 hours a day can be exhausting both physically and emotionally, so we give them every weekend off so that they can rest and recharge. And that's it! We want their focus to be on their campers, so we don't load them down with extra stuff like kitchen work and life-guarding, we regular summer staff handle that.

I asked each one of the cabin staff a series of questions so that you, the reader, could get a chance to know them a little better. Besides their age, name, and other boring stuff, I also asked what their favorite part of camp was as a camper (if they were a camper here), and what their favorite part has been thus far this summer as a staff member. Additionally, I asked them to describe the strangest and/or funniest thing that has happened to them... 

So without further ado, let's meet the crew! (I am aware of how horribly cheesy that rhyme was...)

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is Rae Ganas! She's 19 and she's from Canvas Christian Church in Cumming, GA. She's been attending UNG Cumming campus, but has decided to take a semester off this fall!

Her favorite part of camp when she were a camper was Campfire! (Score. Remember?)

Her favorite part of camp as a staff member: Spending time with the girls in her cabin and getting close to them and hearing their stories, as well as getting to know the girls in her small group.

Rae's funniest/weirdest thing was during shower time in her cabin, she could overhear the Middler and Teener girls talking about their camp crushes and the drama over who was dating whom. Which, as we can probably imagine if it was 5th-8th grade drama, was probably hilarious.

This Is Olivia Yates! She's 19, and she's from Galilee Christian Church In Jefferson, GA. She attends Johnson University where she is majoring in Biblical Studies and Elementary Education.

Her favorite thing when she was a camper was making lifelong friends and being around a strong Christian community... AND carpetball!

Her favorite thing about camp as a staff member this year is meeting new campers each week and being able to see God work through those campers all summer!

Olivia's weirdest/funniest thing that has happened this summer... during Middler 1 she hid in the dumpster during the counselor scavenger hunt and it took over thirty minutes for the campers to find her! Don't worry, we made her shower afterwards.

This is Miriam Hall! She's 18 and she's grown up attending First Christian Church of Jonesboro. She is from McDonough, GA, and she is attending Point University... go Skyhawks!

Her favorite thing about camp as a camper was was campfire! (Score again)

Favorite thing about camp as a staff member this year has been getting to know the campers and being able to spend time worshiping with them.

And Miriam's weirdest/funniest thing from the summer all began with a caterpillar and a stick... and I'll let her tell you about it: "I put a caterpillar on the end of a stick then jokingly told one of the Middler campers that we had to throw away his toothbrush and that the caterpillar stick was his replacement. I expected a laugh... However, I got tears and an inconsolable camper! He had to go and check on his toothbrush before he would accept that I was only joking. Trust me, I felt horrible for making him cry, but it was just too funny."

This is Olivia Wright! She's 19, from Mt. Carmel Christian Church, and is going into her sophomore year at Armstrong State University, where she is majoring in Secondary Education with a concentration in English. She plans to use her degree to answer the Lord's calling to be an English teacher in northern Ireland.

Olivia's favorite part of camp as a camper was the small groups. She continues to keep up with the people that shared a small group with her when she was a camper, and she believes that those groups are great for building lasting relationships.

According to Olivia, every moment as staff has been her favorite! It seems she needs more toilets to unclog... But really, she just enjoys being able to be with the campers and see them grow and learn together to follow the Lord. Being able to see God change the hearts of campers is an awesome experience and I can relate to Olivia when she says it's her favorite part of camp because it truly is so cool to witness. 

This is Terik Thacker, he's 19, attends Athens Christian Church in Athens, and will be starting his sophomore year at Toccoa Falls College... Go Screaming Eagles! (That's my school!)

Terik's favorite part of camp as a camper was and still is the community aspect of camp. Even as a counselor, he still enjoys being in the camp community of believers and counts that as the best part of camp.

Terik described both a funny and strange moment from this summer. The funniest thing was when a camper argued with him for 15 minutes trying to convince him that Australia is a part of Europe only to finally realize that he was thinking of AUSTRIA instead. And Terik described his strangest moment as when a camper convinced some other campers to pay him to eat a scorpion. They paid him, and he ate it... and now you probably don't want to send your kid to our camp. I CAN ASSURE YOU THIS ISN'T NORMAL AND/OR CONDONED.

This Is Parker "Panda" Anderson. He's 21, from Stockbridge, GA and calls First Christian Church of Jonesboro his home church. Parker is attending Point University and his favorite color is red. I know I haven't included any of the other staff's favorite colors so far, but when I asked them to write about themselves, Parker included this for some reason, so in case his favorite color being red is really important to him, I don't want to leave it out...

Parker sadly was not actually a camper here growing up, but as a counselor his favorite part of camp has been getting to know the campers in his group and cabin each week.

One of Parker's funniest moments comes from the carpetball table where a camper gave another camper advice on how to play better. His advice was, "aim very well, all you have to do is aim very well." Sounds like winning advice to me. 

This is Ryan Womack, he's 21 and from Covington, GA, where he attends Eastridge Community Church. Ryan is considering college in the spring of 2017 but is currently focusing on mission work in Greece and working for us here at NGCC!

When Ryan was a camper his favorite things were meeting new people and making new friends, but he also favorably remembers the hash-browns and tater-tots.

As a staff member this year, Ryan's favorite part of camp is being able to work with all different age groups and meeting new sets of campers every week!

Ryan's two funniest moments so far were when a camper told him he looked like Jack Black without the mustache, and when he lost his tube while tubing in Helen during Senior Week and had to share a tube with someone else until he found his.  

Lastly, but certainly not the least, is Isaac Sgro. Isaac was a longtime camper here and a good friend of ours. He's 20 years old, from Turnerville, GA, and originally from Cornelia Christian Church. 

His favorite thing about camp as a camper was campfire. (Triple score). Isaac described that he has always loved the way worshiping at campfire brings everyone's voices together in a passionate harmony that is unlike anything else.

As a staff member Isaac has also come to love the worship sessions. He enjoys being able to see the campers worship and take hold of God's Word through the songs and sermons. 

If snakes give you the heebie-jeebies, then his strange and memorable story may not be for you... I will however allow him to tell it because he did an excellent job describing it. "During our first camp week, when everyone was headed up to the cabins, I discovered a snake attempting to get into the boys' cabin. After unsuccessfully trying to relocate it, I decided to hide it in my vehicle and figure out where to put it later. However, to my chagrin, when I later returned, the snake had escaped and I couldn't locate it. Later, at the end of the week, I was driving home and while I thought I would have a rather uneventful trip, I was surprised when the snake I thought had escaped dropped out of the dashboard and onto my legs, and struck me. It wasn't venomous but it surprised me nonetheless."

... Personally, if a snake fell out of my dashboard while I was driving, Jesus would need to take the wheel because I'd probably just die.

And with that, I have introduced you to our new cabin staff! I hope you feel maybe a little more familiar with them and what they do up here. They're all very excited to be here and hangout, so come on up sometime and meet 'em!

The Serving Line

A short span of jagged tile floor meets with a stainless steel counter wall, forming the only defense separating and keeping us safe from the undead camper hordes. KIDDING. This isn’t the Walking Dead... BUT, the serving line can be quite a circus on Thursday night! And that is because Thursday night is Country Fried Steak Night. 

Green beans steaming up our glasses making it hard to see the gravy slopped on our feet, arguments about the rolls, and campers clamoring for the camp special are all parts of the famed “Country Fried Steak Dinner”. (Side note: That’s also an exaggeration but I’m trying to make this more interesting than the average blog so bear with me). Growing up a camper I never really understood why this night is so special but I always remembered being a camper and getting the Thursday-night-hype so there must be SOMETHING different about this meal than the other fourteen or so meals we serve in a week. Is it possible that the smell of the steak chemically alters the campers - stripping away inhibitions, manners, and the ability to feel full? Or could it just be that it's the last dinner before everyone leaves and it's a special country fried communion. Either way it's always the wildest meal and I hope if you're reading this that you have had a chance to experience this meal! If not, come on up and we'll be happy to show ya!

Transition time... I need to stop yapping about just one meal, even if it is the most glorious of meals, as we do serve more than one, after all. And I suppose I’m not necessarily even trying to focus particularly on Thursday night dinner, it just always seems to be the most memorable, so it stands to mention first. But really, I would just like to take a few minutes to give you an inside look into what goes down on the other side of the serving line. Most campers or visitors only ever see from the outside in and they never get to know or partake in the "arguments" we the staff have among ourselves pertaining to who gets to serve the rolls or has to serve lasagna, or how insanely hot it gets when it is the middle of July and you're standing in front of a five-gallon pot of still-steaming corn - I’m honestly getting sweaty just thinking about it. On-the-real though, what you see from the dining hall is pretty calm compared to what goes on down in the trenches... Trenches meaning the kitchen-side of the serving line, but I can probably stop explaining this now. I’m sure you get the idea.

So by now you get the serving food part of my job, but there's a little bit more that goes on in this sacred, industrial-sized kitchen - void of air conditioning and stocked to the ceiling with every size and shape of pot, pan, and spatula you could ever imagine. Basically, it’s broken down like this: if you are not on pots and pans duty, you help serve, and sometimes even if you are on pots and pans duty, you still serve. The job has to get done (lest we risk the wrath of ninety-something hangry campers made even angrier by the Georgia summer heat), so if that means leaving a crusty unidentifiable substance to mellow in the bottom of a pot then you had better leave that mess and glove up! Also, depending on the situation, one staff may have to double or even triple up on serving to try and make sure the job gets done as quick as possible. Then, when the job is done and all the campers have scurried away to the carpetball tables, you get back to your pan where the unidentifiable substance has almost certainly hardened into something like concrete that you couldn't scrape out if you had a snow shovel. I speak from personal experience. Also, after all the campers and volunteers have come through, we count out what 's left and scream out "seconds!" at the top of our lungs. Depending on what we served that meal there might either be a stampede of people or a complete disinterest - not everyone wants seconds of pancakes on a stick. After "seconds" it's time to put it all up and save anything that could possibly still be good a week later. Most food keeps alright but sometimes you just have to throw it out because week-old reheated sausage patties aren't the most appetizing thing at 8:00am. And while I don't have any fun stories about sausage patties, I DO have a classic story about gravy...

You wanna hear it...?

Good, 'cause I'm going to tell you anyway. 

It all started about five years ago. We have this tradition in the kitchen that if there's a lot of gravy left over and we don't have another meal we can serve it at, we pour it into a small garbage bag then put it into an empty box and throw it away. It saves us from filling the bottom of our trash cans with gravy and keeps the gravy from spilling all in the dumpster. However, one night after dinner some mischievous staff members decided to sneak in the staff cabin and slip one of those trashbags filled with leftover gravy into another unsuspecting staff member's pillow. That night all the staff were going to bed and they expected him to find the gravy bag in his pillow and they'd all have a laugh, however, he instead just laid down and went to sleep right away! The pranksters were surprised that he didn't notice so they decided to wait and see how long it would take him to find the gravy. As it turned out, Okie, the "victim", slept on the gravy bag for about a week before he realized the softness of his pillow wasn't the result of well-stuffed feathers or even cotton, but that it was, in fact, week-old gravy. (Cue laugh track). 

Hilarious right?

Anyhoo, in closing, the serving line is a pretty enjoyable part of being in the kitchen, and it’s certainly more fun to try and convince campers to try the coleslaw than it is to have to clean up the coleslaw off of the floors and sometimes walls. Really, serving food to a bunch of smiling faces is always a rewarding experience, and since we aren’t counselors, it’s sometimes the only time we get to have a funny little interaction with the campers, whether or not gravy goes on top or beside the mashed potatoes. 

YO! If you’re interested in more content on camp-life and what the campers are up to, feel free to head on over to one of our social media pages!

And if for some reason you just think I’m the bees knees you can follow me on Instagram @lukebaeggett, or on Twitter @THISisLukeokay.

I can’t guarantee I’ll be interesting on either of those accounts, but I’ll do my best!

"Did You Guys Put Gasoline In The Fire?"

"Did you guys put gasoline on the fire?"

...Without fail, there is always at least one camper who asks this every week.

A north Georgia hey-hey to you! Please allow me to introduce myself. I'm Luke Baggett - kitchen and lifeguard staff, and I'm coming 'Catcha live from good 'ol NGCC. This is my third year working on staff, but between my staff years and summers spent growing up here as a camper it's probably the twelfth summer I've spent at this camp. This year, alongside my usual duties, I'm also running the camp's social media sites, AND I'M STARTING THIS BLOG. So, if you haven't already, hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, and then remember to check in regularly with this blog for a sneak-peak in on what camp life is like through the eyes of a summer staff! 

Now, even though our camp season has just started (FINALLY!), I was thinking I'd start out this blog by taking a look at campfire. Campfire is considered by many to be their favorite part of camp. As someone who grew up going to camp, I completely agree. There’s just something about standing around a fire and singing to Jesus that simply can’t be replicated outside of camp. If you think I'm exaggerating, I encourage you to take a break from reading this right now, grab a guitar and a couple of friends, start a fire in your backyard, and sing - no, YELL - Romans 16:19 at the absolute top of your lungs.

... See?

Campfire has continued to be my favorite part even as a staff member, although some nights getting the fire lit is more of a challenge than it should be. Setting up the wood and trying to get the fire going could probably be a blog post all in itself! Between wet wood and never enough kindling, fires can sometimes be pretty frustrating to get started, and then just when you think it's lit well enough, and as soon as the speaker starts speaking... it goes out. In which case we usually do end up having to add some diesel to get it started. But, the awesome thing is that regardless of how well we do building the fire, regardless of how long the fire actually burns bright enough to see the person speaking or the person playing the guitar, or regardless of how damp the campfire benches are, it doesn't affect how loud the campers sing and how far their voices carry. It's remarkable that no matter where you are at camp if there is a group of campers at campfire singing, you can hear it. Being on staff and getting a chance to listen to each week of campers sing their voices out every single night is in unforgettable experience that will never get old. 

A new season of camp has begun this week with the arrival of the 4th-6th grade Middlers and campfire is going as strong as ever! Tonight, worship was led by two of our new permanent cabin staff - Olivia Yates and Olivia Wright. And for those that maybe haven't heard yet, the camp started something new this year by hiring 8 college students as permanent staff to stay in the cabins and be counselors all summer long! The speaker tonight was Jordan Weldon, a former NGCC staff member who worked the same job I have about 15 years ago! He likely struggled back then building the same campfires we do today, though after hearing him talk a little bit about some of the huge fires he told me they used to build, I'm not sure how much they actually struggled... But nonetheless, we’re so excited to see what the rest of the week and the rest of the campfires have in store for our Middler 1 crew!