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!