Tara Phillips shares at the end of the week of the 2017 Great Gluten Escape Summer Camp at Gilmont. She is one of two Girl Scouts who worked with Dallas ROCK (Raising Our Celiac Kids) to start this week long camp for kids at Gilmont that is completely Gluten Free. 14 years later she is committed to a week of volunteering at Gilmont as part of this special ministry.
"This past week… where do I even begin? The campers, Camp Gilmont, the counselors, the theme…
It’s hard to believe that 14 years ago this camp was just a tiny dream in the heads of a couple Girl Scouts and a couple moms of Celiacs. 14 years later here sit 55 campers, 9 jr counselors, 17 counselors, and 11 staff.
To the counselors: Your energy and patience amazed me daily. Every one of you showed so much maturity but knew how to bring the fun and keep everyone smiling all week long. I had so much fun with you all this week. Thank you.
To the campers: You are the reason I come back year after year. Your smiles as you experience camp as a “normal” camper; participating in canoeing, zipline, crafts, games, swimming and then going through the lunch line where EVERYTHING you see is something you can eat is priceless. Thank you.
To the kitchen staff/volunteers: Cooking for this many is never an easy task, but add in dietary restrictions and it is so much harder. Because of the nature of cooking Gluten Free almost every thing is made from scratch and from fresh ingredients so it takes much longer than preparing a normal camp meal. The extra love put into this week’s meals did not go unnoticed. Thank you.
To the donors: The cost of this camp would be astronomical without you. With your donations Camp Gilmont offers this camp at the SAME price as any of their other summer camps. Thank you.
To Camp Gilmont: You are one special place. One camper evaluation said, “Camp Gilmont made them forget that they had Celiac disease”. That right there. Its everything. Many other evaluations said that Camp Gilmont is “Home”. Considering these kids have a life altering disease, and camp makes them comfortable enough to call it home, means we are doing something right. Thank you.
To my amazing husband and family: You kept things running smoothly in my absence and I did not have to worry for a second if my babies were missing me. Thank you.
To my awesome roommate: Thanks for the laughs, and being just as big (if not more) of a Harry Potter nerd as I am. I had a blast.
As a wise Professor Dumbledore once said “Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” I hope that this last week was a light for many, it definitely was for me."
(visit our Great Gluten Escape Facebook Page by clicking the link below!)
“Community” is a word we often use at camp to describe what we are about – growing, sharing and learning in community means we are here with something bigger than ourselves in mind. When a member of our community has a life burden, a developmental disability, a limitation that requires some adaptation, or other special circumstances, we all do our part to carry this need as a member of one larger body.
As community builders, the folks at Gilmont consider meeting the dietary needs of our guests as an important part of our ministry. In the wake of 11 years of hosting a full week of The Great Gluten Escape Summer Camp, and meeting individual GF requests year-round, we committed to taking the necessary steps to become a Certified Gluten-Free Food Service facility. Check this out! Gilmont is highlighted this month by The Gluten Intolerance Group (GIG), the national organization that sets standards for food service facilities who voluntarily step up to ensure the food safety of gluten intolerant guests. This process required submitting Standard Operating Procedures which outline how we go about purchasing, preparing, and serving our guests. Next, we were required to pass an on-site visit and audit of our facilities conducted by a GFFS Quality Control Manager.
As a staff, we are committed to learning, training, reminding, checking and re-checking to operate with the lowest risk to our guests. We celebrate the GFFS certification and how the process has helped make us a better camp over all, and an even more welcoming place to grow in community!
In addition to offering programs for adults and children, Gilmont also hosts rental groups year-round for trainings, meetings, and gatherings for a variety of organizations, family groups, as well as corporate and nonprofit entities.
3 Reasons to Choose a Job at Camp Instead of a Summer Internship
Read more in this article from American Camping Association. Gilmont is accredited by the ACA.
Something you’ll hear me talk about quite a bit is how life-changing going to or working at a summer camp is. It’s my favorite conversation topic. “So this one time at camp…” I know a lot of you will probably roll your eyes at me and say “Mary, all you ever talk about is camp, can you find a new topic?” Well the answer is no, and I’m going to tell you why.
When you send your kids to camp for a week (or two, or the whole summer depending on where you send them), you’re not only sending them to a place where they will have fun, you’re sending them to a place where they will branch out and meet new people. You’re sending them to a place where they will learn to be an independent person, where they will grow as a person. And I’m not saying this because I was a camp counselor for 2 years, I’m saying this because I was a camper for almost 9 years.
Camp was where I was able to get away from mom, dad, and my “annoying” brothers for a week and be free to ask questions that maybe I didn’t feel comfortable asking my parents. It was a week where I got to stay in a cabin with a gaggle of girls and giggle every night about which boy was the cutest, or talk about something that we were struggling with at home and still be loved and supported no matter what. We were all in it together, whether that mean’t taking a buddy to go to the bathroom in the woods during camp-out night and then proceeding to have that buddy run back to tell a counselor you had fire ants crawling all up your legs and in your pants (true story my friends), or hiking to the top of elephant graveyard during the heat of the day and banding together to share what water we had left in our water bottles so nobody got dehydrated. Shoot, I met people at camp as a camper that I still talk to!
Sure I made really great friends and grew a whole lot when I was a camper, but when you work as a counselor it’s a whole different ballgame. I always wanted to be a counselor when I was a camper so when I was finally able to be one I was absolutely ecstatic! YES! I was going to be one of the people that kids looked up to! I would get to help kids grow in their faith! I was going to get to spend basically my entire summer outdoors and in nature! SCORE! While all those things are great, what I didn’t realize is how much I would grow in my faith those summers I worked. I didn’t realize that I would gain some of my absolute favorite memories, or that the people I would work with would become people I couldn’t even imagine doing life without. I didn’t realize that camp would change me even as a 19 year old. Obviously I was wrong.
While working at camp, kids would ask questions in bible study that I never would have thought about. The spiritual advisers who came to be more in depth at bible study and lead vespers in the evenings not only helped kids be more in touch with God, but also me. Who would’ve thought that something meant for kids would change my life too? God works in mysterious ways my friends and the Holy Spirit is ever present at camps like Camp Gilmont.
Like I said previously, I met some of my absolute best friends while working at camp. Friends that I honestly don’t know how I handled life before that without. When you work at camp, you gain a second family. Your co-counselors are the people who at the end of the day are going to support you no matter what. They are the people who know what you’re like when you’re at your worst; sweaty, exhausted, and usually pretty irritable because of the first two. They are the people who when kids do or say something that just knocks you off your feet, or makes you want to die of laughter, you tell. They are people who genuinely care about how you’re doing even though you probably hadn’t even met them until you started staff training. They know you. Like, actually know you. Your co-counselors are people you share your life goals and ambitions with. You create memories that last you a lifetime. Memories like: sitting in your hammock talking to each other because one of you heard an animal/felt an animal run under your hammock and is terrified to sleep, or mattress surfing down the stairs of a church while there for a traveling camp (sorry Liz!), or having to keep 15 5 yr olds interested in an activity for an hour and a half and taking them on a special “hunt” through the church to find the secret tunnel before the weebles get to you.
Your co-counselors keep you sane 90% of the time and drive you to insanity the other 10%. But it’s 100% worth it because at the end of the day you can laugh about it and spend the afternoon you have off eating good food and playing super mario party in the staff lounge or even better: sleeping.
Moral of this post is that camp is life-changing for all ages. I highly recommend you send your kids for a week this summer, or work as a counselor at least once. If you don’t know where to send your kids/where to work as a counselor, I highly recommend Camp Gilmont. Applications for camp staff close February 31 so be sure to apply soon!!