My grandfather (Kermit Schmidt) was a Baptist preacher at First Baptist Church, in Tulsa, OK. In 1959, he and my grandmother put my mother on a train bound for Ridgecrest, NC. She attended Crestridge for two or three years as a Choctaw and Cherokee, and loves to tell stories about how fearsome Miss Bell was, how they would slide down Choctaw Hill when it rained (because there were no stairs at that time), and how they would sunbathe on the roof of the bathhouse.
Following my mother’s time at Crestridge, I had two other aunts attend, although my grandparents never visited Crestridge. They had served as Baptist missionaries in Brazil, and had spent some time at the conference center. I suppose they felt that Crestridge was a safe place for their children, and had a strong faith that Jesus would be a shepherd and watch over all. Those were certainly different times!
One of my aunts, Peggy Schmidt, became a Belle during her time at Crestridge. When her younger sister followed her footsteps to attend CC4G, Peggy felt it was so important for someone to be there at closing program, that she herself caught the bus from Oklahoma to North Carolina, to support her younger sister.
Many years later, ironically, I was convinced by a twelve year old friend of mine at my church to try out the camp she had been attending. Thanks to Cara Pollard, I started at Crestridge in 1984 as a Chickasaw. I enjoyed my years at camp so much that I returned as a Cherokee counselor in 1992, with Nancy Clare Morgan. It was one of the best summers of my LIFE! I still have my four goals in my Bible from various camp years, as to how I wanted to grow Spiritually, Emotionally, Physically, and Mentally.
Yet another generation later, in 2007, my mother and I dropped off my seven year old for Starter camp, having no idea what kind of an impact Crestridge would make in her life. All of Morgan’s best friends are Crestridgers, and they keep in touch throughout the year on Instagram, text messages, email, Snapchat, and any other type of social media. One New Year’s Eve a few years ago I asked her who she was texting? It turns out she was texting with her Chickasaw counselor. What an amazing impression these staffers make on our children.
In addition to Morgan’s experience at Crestridge, my son, Logan, has become a big fan of Camp Ridgecrest. He looks forward to his time there every summer. In addition, the fantastic marketing that the camps do on Instagram, Facebook, and snail mail keeps the kids energized and excited all year long. They participate in various online competitions, look forward to seeing posts about returning counselors, view silly videos that the staff put together during the off-season, read blogs/online Bible studies, and love individualized notes that they receive.
For all of the memories that I hold dear, for those that my children hold dear, for the future memories my children are making at Crestridge and Ridgecrest, and for the part these camps are playing in the Spiritual growth of my children, I am so proud to be able to be a part of the Camp Crestridge Alumnae and Friends Board. Thank you for this opportunity. With my feet on the ground and my heart attuned, Crestridge has taught me to always reach for the stars!
– Anne-Britton Arnett