It all started with a dream.
Msgr. Francis X. Gray, pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Baraboo, sought to provide a place for youth to have fun and grow in their faith — a place where they could escape from the struggles of everyday life. The year? 1953.
Nearly 60 years later, Camp Gray is still providing a place for thousands of youth to grow in their faith in a fun and beautiful outdoor setting — and make tons of friends in the process!
Camp has grown
In fact, Camp Gray has grown into a vibrant, high-octane summer camp and year-round retreat center, bustling with energy and exuberance – the likes of which Monsignor Gray probably couldn’t have ever imagined.
Our summer camp serves roughly 1,300 campers per year, while throughout the school year, Camp Gray hosts retreats for students at nearly all of the Catholic schools in the diocese. Additionally, Camp Gray facilitates Confirmation retreats for dozens of our parishes.
Facilities need upgrading
While the mission from those early days of Camp Gray remains the same, unfortunately, many of our cabins and facilities also have remained unchanged.
We are thrilled to once again be a part of the Annual Catholic Appeal (ACA) for the Diocese of Madison. The diocesan support from the ACA allows camp to make much needed improvements to infrastructure while at the same time maintaining the quality programs that you as a diocese have come to expect from Camp Gray.
Hearts and lives changed
The challenges of running and maintaining a facility such as this are not unique to Camp Gray. What is unique is the effect that this place has on the hearts of all those who attend camp.
Here at this facility, behind and beyond the walls that have stood for so many years, lives are being changed and hearts are being focused more clearly on our Lord. It is impossible to do without your valuable support.
See what Glenna had to say about a weekend here on this holy ground.
“This fall I was fortunate enough to go on a Confirmation retreat at Camp Gray,” she said. “I was able to get away from my stressful everyday life and have time to experience God. The counselors turned the time I had at Camp Gray into a life changing experience.”
Dependence on fees, donations
In the past, Camp Gray’s budget has been made up almost entirely of the fees charged for our summer camp and our year-round retreats. Because of this, when the need for repairs, remodeling, or general program improvements would arise, we would be forced to put forth a special plea to our loyal camp families to help us cover these costs.
This past year, while our camp families were registering for summer camp, they were given the opportunity to donate to our St. Vincent Remodel Fund.
Thanks to the generosity of our camp families in donating to this fund, in addition to our portion of last year’s ACA, the long overdue project of remodeling the bathrooms in “Vinnies” was completed — transforming the bathrooms into a place that no doubt our female campers will be writing home about.
With several other large building improvement projects on the horizon, we’re hopeful that with the success of the ACA, we’ll be able to continue crossing projects off our “Building Improvement To-Do List.”
Rebecca Hoeben, the camp’s co-director (Jeff makes up the other “‘co,” which is fitting because they’ve also teamed up for the Sacrament of Marriage), sums it up best:
“Your contribution to the ACA benefits the entire Madison Diocese, which in turn benefits Camp Gray. Your generosity allows us to continue offering the very best programs and facilities to the youth of our diocese, so that all campers that step onto our holy ground continue to have life changing experiences at Camp Gray.”