Camp Gray: Faith and fun will be back next year Print E-mail
Around the Diocese
Written by Kevin Wondrash, Catholic Herald Staff   
Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 -- 12:00 AM
camp gray slide
A camper during a recent session at Camp Gray in Reedsburg tries out the slide attached to the new dining hall building that opened this year.  The Catholic summer camp and retreat center of the Diocese of Madison recently completed its summer session. To view or purchase photos. go to (Catholic Herald photo/Kevin Wondrash)

REEDSBURG -- The 2017 summer season at Camp Gray may be over, but the faith, friends, and fun will be back next year.

Camp Gray is the Catholic summer camp and year-round retreat center of the Diocese of Madison, located on 225 acres near Reedsburg.

Every year, hundreds of campers come out to grow closer to God and each other.

For those who have never been to camp before and for those that can’t wait to go back, the adventure starts from minute one on day one.

Hello and welcome

During the last full week of camp for the summer -- week nine -- day one looked like any other day one, with camp staff welcoming the families as they arrived.

Their first stop was the new dining hall building where check-ins took place.

Following some double-checking of information, going over any health concerns, and a cookie, campers of all ages dropped their stuff off at their cabins, met their counselors for the week, and played some games on the “BBC” (basketball court).

Some family members stuck around before saying goodbye for the week and played with their kids on the BBC.

Some families also did a little shopping at the camp’s new canteen store, also located in the new dining hall building.

Getting to know camp

Once everyone in a cabin arrived, the counselors began with their groups.

After introductions were made, the counselors went over some ground rules and then gave their campers a tour of the buildings and grounds.

Many of the groups got to meet new Camp Gray Chaplain Fr. Jared Holzhuter, who was just ordained to the priesthood earlier this summer.

Each cabin got their group photo taken by summer camp photographer Erin Moran, much of whose work is seen on the Camp Gray Facebook page.

One group of Trailblazer boys (grades six to eight) made their way through the woods to check out the grounds and even learn which berries were safe to eat, and only with permission.

As the group walked the trails, they eventually found themselves at the St. Francis of Assisi Chapel, where Mass and Eucharistic Adoration take place during the week. Here they learned the importance of reverence and silence and got to spend some quiet time in prayer.

Other groups got some first day time at the Panda Ball pit, getting in their first games of the popular Camp Gray tradition.

The dinner bell sounds

As the tones of the so-called “Come-on-up-to-the-dining-hall-and-have-a-seat-because-it-is-time-to-eat” Bell rang, the campers did just that, seated at tables with their fellow cabin members and leaders.

Along with Sunday spaghetti, more camp introductions were made, going over important facts, such as only two people go up and get the food for every table, and also how to make cleanup fast and efficient.

It began with a rousing welcome from Assistant Director Chris “Topher” Aderhold. “Welcome to Camp Gray session nine!” he said to loud cheers.

“We are thrilled that you are staying the week with us,” he added, promising “loads and loads and loads” of fun.

Some of the fun camp sayings were gone over at this time, letting all the campers be included in the fun right away. This included staff saying “hip hip!” and everyone responding with “hurray!”

Staff members were also introduced in a fun manner to get everyone familiar with each other.

Campfire fun

The centerpiece of day one is what’s known as the “Rip-roarin’-foot-stompin’-don’t-get-too-close-or-you’ll-singe-your-eyebrows Campfire!” or the “RRFSDGTCOYSYE”.

Campers and staff gathered at the fire pit for ,songs and skits, complete with sing-alongs and audience participation. The hour-long campfire served as a way to bring all the groups together for the week, create a relaxing environment to get acquainted with camp, and of course, have fun and create smiles.

Here, the chiefs for the weekly Cassidy Games were also announced. All the campers were divided into the red and blue teams and compete all week against each other for points by cleaning up the table faster after meals or other tasks.

The contest culminated on Thursday with the Cassidy Games featuring Panda Ball, tug of war, and a relay race around the camp’s Lake Jake.

Before heading back to their cabins for evening devotions, Camp Gray Co-Executive Director Jeff Hoeben led everyone in singing the traditional Camp Gray song, “Wisdom in this Forest.”

See you next year!

While the summer season at Camp Gray has ended, the faith and fun will start again soon.

In November of this year, summer camp registration will open. For more information on Camp Gray, go to

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