Every year we provide an opportunity for our Summer Staff from the previous summer to get together and relive the memories they share from the summer. For those of you reading who have never worked camp, you have to understand there is a bond created that’s almost unexplainable.You can be separated for years-on-end and share memories like they happened yesterday. It’s resembles a family reunion minus all the cheek pinches and dating inquiries (okay, maybe just as many dating inquires). We’ve held this reunion in several different locations throughout the years. For the last several years, we’ve held reunion at Stone Mountain Park just east of Atlanta. This year, the Staff Development team decided to switch things up and take everyone to Six Flags Over Georgia on October 18th! It was probably one of the most beautiful days in Atlanta so far this year. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky and the temperature was in the 70s. We set up just outside of the park around noon and greeted the Summer Staff who drove in from all around the southeast. Between 12 and 1 we had close to 100 Summer Staff check in and get their tickets to Six Flags. Despite all of the fun to be had just on the other side of the front gate, our Summer Staff lingered just on the outskirts to welcome their friends as they came in. The area immediately surrounding the pop-up tent that housed the tickets resembled an airport terminal around the holidays. Everywhere where you turned, there was someone new to hug. Whether you worked WinShape Camps for Boys, Girls or Communities, there was constantly someone walking up you recognized. Summer Staff headed into a crowded Six Flags to take in all the thrills, lines and sweet treats the park had to offer. Some Summer Staff headed straight for rides like Goliath, known for it’s high elevations. Other groups decided to start a little simpler with the carousel or the sky buckets. At 6PM we gathered under one of the pavilions located just off the beaten path where we were served BBQ, Chicken Fingers, and all the right trimmings. More hugs to be had under that pavilion as groups that arrived at different times made their way into the same area. Some of our Full-Time staff made their way in with babies and children in tow. As the sunset over the park and we ate together, people connected over what happened at camp and what occurred since the ending of the summer. As we wrapped up dinner, groups regathered to go enjoy the thrills that come along with Six Flags around Halloween. Probably one of the most magical parts of the evening was the moment we were all leaving the pavilion. As you walked out, you were walking around a lake. As the beautiful fall sun began to set, it provided the perfect picture opportunity for our Summer Staff. Next to the lake sat the Ninja roller coaster which beautifully reflected in the lake below and provided a picturesque backdrop. People gathered, cameras flashed and final hugs were given. Groups went their separate ways to go spend the rest of their available time in the park. Staff Reunion’s are always a special time. Whether they are coordinated by our full-time staff or occur by happenstance, they become highlights in someones year. If I had to guess, this one was extra special. Coming off a summer where we spent so much time talking about true community created an even more incredible bond.
Thank you to everyone who came out and was a part of this incredible day! We look forward to the day when we are all together again!