GRP's Next Blessing

By Anne Mead

It is a great pleasure to welcome longtime GRP employee, Avery McGaha, to our year-round team. Avery will be our new Program Director and brings a wealth of enthusiasm and experience to the role. Stephen and I could not be more excited to have him with us as we continue to create magic for our campers. A little note below from Avery…..

Dear GRP friends and family,

What an amazing season it’s been. As a Program Intern this summer, I had the pleasure of watching our kind and adventurous community grow together across many weeks of fun, exploration, and challenges. From this perch on the summer Leadership Team, I witnessed campers and staff teaching each other every day. I saw campers grow more secure and confident in themselves. As campers learned about strange new plants and animals, I saw them push staff to become deeper wells of patience, reservoirs of kindness and care, and masterful teachers.

In other words, I’m grateful for the front-row seat to a community that practices strong mentorship — a community that values how the mentor relationship can support bright and curious minds on either side. For me, that relationship became more tangible and important this summer than any other as I became part of a bittersweet transition.

When we said goodbye to campers for the summer, we also said farewell to my dear friend and mentor Ruby Compton, who will now bring her leadership and indomitable spirit to Muddy Sneakers. If you know Ruby, you know how lucky they are! For the last four summers, Ruby has been a wonderfully kind and committed mentor to me and many others.

Always a student, over these past four summers I would catch myself taking notes when Ruby led a meeting, where she’d match good humor with confidence and efficiency. Or when she directed a particularly tough conversation, relentlessly fair and respectful. Or when she made a child’s day with a ridiculous joke or a song. Behind the scenes, Ruby always struck the right balance of supporting and challenging me to gain skills and confidence. As I put it to her a few weeks ago, any finesse I had with managing staff or building programs was all her fault.

That’s why I’m so proud to step into her shoes now as Program Director. It feels like such a powerful example of what mentorship is all about: helping each other grow to heights that are only possible with both support and challenge. The hard bit is that for your mentee to step up — and for you to grow as well — you’ve got to make room. That’s not only Ruby’s gift to me, but it’s the legacy of the land and culture that GRP is founded on. It’s a legacy of using mentorship to cultivate respect and responsibility, curiosity and a sense of adventure in the next generation.

So it’s with excitement and enormous gratitude that I begin my next chapter as Program Director at GRP. I am so lucky to have spent seven summers learning from amazing mentors, kind and hilarious campers, and a community of brilliant and always-growing staff. I hope you’ll join me in celebrating the great work we’ve accomplished together, and in looking forward to another fantastic summer in 2017.

Today I’m proud to call GRP not only my spiritual home, but my professional home, too. There’s no better place on Earth to seek the joy of being alive.

Avery McGaha