I fell in love with Camp Grady Spruce when I was 10 years old. I was in cabin 6 and I swear that week could not have gone any faster. It was fun spending time by the water and learning how to make friendship bracelets, but what really impacted me was the staff. My cabin counselor and counselor for the leathers program, Katie, was amazing. She made me feel like I could do anything and that I could change the world. That week forever changed me. My passion for service sparked at camp and after that week I sold friendship bracelets and donated my profit to the fight against breast cancer. 

Summer 2012 was another monumental summer for me because I was a part of the CIT program. Throughout the course of those three weeks I learned a lot about myself and how to be a good leader. I had a blast learning from Anne and Curry, but I would say that the most powerful part of the program was the week I got to shadow a cabin. It was magical. The kind of magical that put butterflies in my heart. During that week I really understood what camp was all about. Sure, camp is fun and you make memories that will last a lifetime, but the real magic comes from the campers. To hear all of their stories and to know what some of those kids have gone through is heartbreaking and inspiring. Those kids made me want to be a better person and to be a role model.

Summer 20113 and 2014 was spent chasing my dream of being someone those girls could look up to. I wanted to be the best version of myself. I wanted to show them that it was okay to be silly, independent, and brave. In return, those campers taught me so much. It was in Summer of 2014 that I knew that I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives. I started attending Texas State University to pursue a degree in Elementary education, with a minor in Recreational Administration. I wanted to a part of camp forever.

I spent the summer of 2015 in Davis, Oklahoma at Camp Classen. I am forever grateful for all of the amazing people that I met there. It was at camp Classen that I decided that I wanted to work in camping for the rest of my life. Everyone at Camp Classen was so accepting of me and my ideas.

I returned to Camp Grady Spruce in 2016 as the female CIT coordinator. I loved every minute of it and was so blessed to have the most amazing co-director, Clay Gilmore. He was a camp legend to me, so it was an honor to work alongside him. This past summer was my favorite so far. Those kids taught me so much and they inspire me every day. I miss waking up to their smiling faces and teaching them about what camp truly means.

Since the end of last summer I have pledged to raise enough money to send a kid to camp. I presented to my community service sorority and they gladly made donations. I am currently working on speaking to other organizations in the near future. I want as many children as possible to experience the camp magic.

I honestly believe that camp can change the world. This place is filled with love and lessons revolving around our four core values; caring, honesty, responsibility, and respect. I knew what each of those things meant before I started going to camp, but it was here that I got a deeper understanding for what they really meant. Caring is having empathy and being compassionate with others. Everyone deserves to be cared for and loved. Honesty doesn’t just mean to tell the truth to others, but to yourself. It is okay to ask for help if you need it. Camp taught me responsibility on another level. I would be responsible for ten daughters for an entire week. I was responsible for showing them how wonderfully each girl was made. I was responsible for making sure that they drank enough water, that they wore sunscreen, and that they had a great time. Respect is a big lesson that camp taught me before I went to my first year of college. It taught me how to live with other people, to have respect for people that came from a culture different than my own.

Camp taught me how to treat other people, but it also taught me to respect myself.

Camp helped me discover my worth.

Camp showed me my gifts and how to share them with the world.

I would not be who I am today without Camp Grady Spruce, and I am forever grateful for that.

– Shelby Williams

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