My first day at Greene as a member of the full-time team still feels like it was just yesterday. The five years that have followed have been incredible, defied expectations, and helped me grow in ways I could never have predicted. It’s bittersweet to share that I am leaving the full-time team at the end of the month to take the next step in my career as the Associate Camp Director at Shalom Austin.
In reflecting on my time on the team, one word keeps coming up: Family. “Family is more than just our middle name.” I remember exactly when Loui first said that to me. It was my first time being at camp as a member of the full-time team and I was talking with him in his office. It seemed like a funny spin on the nature of camp and an excellent play on words as “Family” is literally Greene Family Camp’s middle name. What I didn’t know at that meeting was how important my camp family was going to be.
Summer 2017 was my first summer and we were not even 24 hours into staff training week when my mother called me. My heart sank because my heart knew why she was calling before I even answered the phone: my grandfather, my Poppo, had passed away. It was my first staff training during my first summer. Thankfully, my GFC family knew what to do and their support was unanimous: go home and be with your family. I spent days at home supporting my family and memorializing my grandfather while the camp team supported from afar, making sure that the portions of staff training week I was supposed to run still happened. When I returned to camp there was even a sympathy card waiting for me on my desk from the camp team, my camp family.
My camp family was always there for me. I was at camp when my family found out about my youngest sister’s cancer diagnosis. My camp family hugged me and sent me home. The days that followed were dark and turbulent, but my camp family was there for me and sent us dinner one night. Through countless hospital appointments, surgeries, and other medical calamities that would befall my family, my camp family was always there. It was poetic that I was at camp, 18 months later, when we got the news that my sister was in remission.
As my time on the full-time team at Greene comes to a close, I am thankful for so much, but it’s the camp family that keeps rising to the top. I don’t know how I could properly thank everyone, but naturally my camp family has an answer for that too. It was former assistant director Mindy Lee who, upon reflecting on her time on the full-time team, suggested that you can’t pay it back, you have to pay it forward. And so that’s how I’ve tried to live my time at Greene: with appreciation and a desire to pay it forward whenever I could. The wonderful thing about the camp family is that it transcends space and time. I may be leaving the full-time team at Greene, but I’m not leaving the family. I’m looking forward to continuing to be a member of large extended camp family and paying it forward where I can.
I recognize that my departure from the team is the final step in a changing of the guard. “Melissa, Michaela, McKenzie, and McEthan,” as Loui would sometimes joke. As Shmi Skywalker said, “You can’t stop change any more than you can stop the suns from setting.” While our roles in the GFC community are changing, we will forever be proud members of the GFC family. Greene will soon be in the hands of a new group of assistant directors. A Next Generation if you will. I know that they will do incredible things and I can’t wait to see it.
Of course I’m referencing Star Wars and Star Trek. It’s my final blog post. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
To Greene Family Camp, may you live long and prosper, and may the force be with you.