My name is Glenn Breazeale. My wife, Carter, and I are the directors at Alpine. It is my privelege to share a little news from the Mountain every few days. For those reading who dropped off boys this morning, thank you. Thanks for entrusting your sons to our care. And for giving them this gift to spend 25 days in God’s creation surrounded by friends and Christian role models. We know there are many, many options for a boy in the summer, increasingly more each summer. We are so grateful they are at Alpine. And for our 60th summer, no less!
As I type this our last camper has just arrived on property, from Medellin, Colombia (by way of the Atlanta airport!). 286 campers are in the gym singing camp songs at the top of their lungs. 17 states are represented this term, plus the District of Columbia and the country of Colombia!
If you are new to Alpine, allow me to give a very brief history. My father in law, Dick O’Ferrall, founded Alpine Camp for Boys in the summer of 1959 (along with another business partner who he later bought out). At the age of 24 he trusted in faith on a vision he had for a Christian camp. Mr. O, as he’s affectionately known around here, camped and counseled himself at another camp on Lookout Mountain. He loved his experience and the relationships it gave him. His vision was for something similar with a more Christian emphasis.
That summer he opened with 50 some odd campers and a handful of eager staff. His mother and father, a well known physician in Jackson, MS, helped recruit many of Alpine’s first campers. In fact, his father had delivered many of them! As providence would have it, one of those early campers for 4 summers in the 1960’s was Don Breazeale, my father. The Lord continued to bless and grow Alpine into the 70’s and 80’s. Dick would say that when he married Alice, a longtime Desoto staffer and public school teacher, and she began to get involved with camp, it took the camp experience to a new level.
In the late 80’s/early 90’s my parents afforded me the opportunity to spend my summers high atop Lookout Mountain. In college I was fortunate to be hired on as a counselor for several summers. Carter and I moved back full time in 2003 and have been a part of the operation ever since.
Fast forward to today, there are numerous legacies in camp. Many will sleep tonight in the same cabins, or at least cabin areas, as their fathers or brothers or cousins. And perhaps just as many are new to Alpine but will soon feel what most feel. This is a place that draws you in and has a way of making you feel normal and accepted for who you are. I said as much in our Opening meeting in the gym today after the parents left. I actually had all the new campers (and first year counselors) raise their hand. And I asked them to look around the room so they would know they were not alone. There were many hands raised. We welcomed these new guys into this caring community!
We also mentioned to everyone in camp the importance of telling someone if they are having an issue, physically or emotionally. I emphasized that we want to know if anyone says or does anything that makes them uncomfortable. We also talked about a few boundaries in camp and some tips to keep them happy and healthy in camp. I told them this was no place for bullying or picking on each other. And we talked about that all of us miss something about home when we’re at camp, even the staff. Our hope is to normalize homesickness (because it is normal to miss something you love!). In so doing we want to remove any embarrassment so that boys will feel comfortable talking to their counselor or one of us about it. I told them that talking with someone about how they are feeling is an almost instant cure.
For lunch our capable kitchen staff turned out homemade chicken and dumplings, steamed corn and green peas, miniature buttery biscuits (rolled out by hand and numbering in the thousands), and a green salad with sliced tomatoes. If you’ve been to Alpine before and that brings back some memories, it should. The ladies have been serving that very lunch on Opening Day for a long, long time. I remember eating it when I was a camper.
Currently your boys are spread throughout camp, divided by age group, playing all sorts of team games for “Night Program”. Each night brings a different Night Program. I’ll look forward to telling you more about those during the term. Most are usually active (they are boys!).
This afternoon every camper had a chance to sign up for the term’s activities. Tomorrow we’ll move straight into the first 5 activities on their schedules. Our medical staff gave brief health checks - a chance for them to meet each camper, talk about hygiene and health, and do quick checks for lice and fever. Every cabin stopped by the store for our crew to give them the Alpine gear pre-ordered. We checked sizes and put names in the back. Carter and I spent our afternoon at the store - we like to be there because we get to see each camper come through. It’s fun to catch up with the veterans and meet the new campers.
These boys have so many good things in store. And all in God’s creation, with friends, and without the distraction of devices. Thanks again for giving them this gift.
Good night for now, Glenn