By Glenn Hannigan
Editor, North Georgia Advocate
Like the swallows returning to Capistrano, they predictably reappear each year. The youngsters returning to Camp Glisson. Throughout the summer camp season, like clockwork, high-energy boys and girls stream into Glisson like a miniature invading force.
The campers arrive with overstuffed backpacks and oversized canvas bags. They arrive with a rush of adrenaline and high expectations . And, most often, they arrive three or four steps ahead of their parents.
Since 1925, it has been a rite of passage for many North Georgia Methodists. And the power of that tradition proved its resilience this summer.
“We were worried that 2009 might be a down year because of the economy,” said Camp Glisson Director Russell Davis. “We were wrong. It was fantastic, better than we hoped.”
When the last camper of the season filed out July 31, Glisson had been host to 2,546 boys and girls, just 47 short of the all-time record, set in 2008.
For Davis, in his third year as Glisson’s director, it was much-appreciated affirmation.
“I think this shows that people believe we are a good value,” Davis said.
Campers, who can begin attending mini-camp as rising third graders, have numerous options and activities from which to choose. And numerous venues to visit, including: nearby trails, river and waterfall, swimming pool, lake, gym, chapel, meeting rooms and game fields, to name a few.
And it is not only campers who faithfully return each year. Many Glisson alumni apply to work there, long after they’ve graduated from high school and no longer attend camp.
“We have a fantastic staff of college students,” Davis said. “We are overwhelmed with high-quality applicants. This year, 230 people applied for 130 positions.”
And it is also a place that does not sit idle for long. Glisson, once a summer-only facility, is now a year-round destination.
Two days after summer camp ended, on Aug.2, the college-age staff had packed their belongings and said goodbye. Two days later, Glisson welcomed its first retreat group of a new season.
“We have men’s groups, women’s groups and youth groups coming here all the time now,” Davis said. “We are booked well into the fall.”
And, of course, once fall is booked and retreat groups spill into the winter and spring, the cycle starts all over again.
This article appeared in the August 21, 2009 edition of the North Georgia Advocate. To subscribe or renew visit www.ngumc.org/advocate.