Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Camp Stegall IV

I'm departing from my usual scintillating stories about cats, chickens and dogs in order to wax warm and fuzzy on something else important to family. Not just my husband Jay and the teenagers who live with us, but people I grew up with, the people with whom I have more in common than I care to admit sometimes. My family is fairly ordinary; my parents have divorced and remarried, both sets settling in North Carolina. My siblings and I live all over the country with my brother Paul (a.k.a. "Howard" with his own blog who sometimes comments on mine) representing Arizona, sister Diana resides in Minnesota, step-brother Jeff in Georgia and me in Connecticut. Paul and I each have two children, Diana and Jeff have more freedom.

The middle generation:
Paul, Diana, me and Jeff

The tradition is and has been for us to get together at Thanksgiving at somebody's house, eat a lot, see a movie and sing Christmas carols until we drop (or we convince Paul to stop). However, it's not always been possible for everyone to travel at that time. Having grown up as a child from a "broken home", I didn't fully appreciate the lengths my parents went to in order to have our family get-togethers until I was older. If my dad and step-mom, June, were hosting a holiday gathering with us children, my mother and step-father, John, were always invited and vice versa. So although my parents, Joel and Ruth, haven't been married to each other since I was nine-years-old, they are truly friends and accepting of the other's spouses. I'm sure this has caused angst between them at various times, but they have somehow worked it out internally for the benefit of everyone.

The younger and older generations:
John, Mom, Weston, Tyler, Paris, Kelsey, Dad and June with a rainbow backdrop

Four years ago, my dad proposed the idea of renting a house at the beach for a week in the summer where we'd all gather without the pressure of holiday travel and getting back to work/school after just 2-3 days together. Thus, Camp Stegall was born. He found a house with its own swimming pool, a block from the beach in Garden City, South Carolina (about 30 minutes south of Myrtle Beach). It is fully furnished, very upscale, with 6 bedrooms, 8 bathrooms and 2 kitchens. Each bedroom has a full bathroom. Mom and John stay at a hotel or camp nearby, spending the day and dinners with the kids and grandkids. Dad and June foot most of the rental bill and bring most of the staples - food, soap, linens, etc. So although we have to cook for ourselves (each family has its designated night to prepare dinner for everyone), and may become tired of each other after awhile, it's our vacation. Hey, anytime I don't have to deal with pet hair, feed or clean up after cats is a vacation for me.
Jeff comes up with some sort of souvenir gift for that year; so far we've had Camp Stegall visors, T-shirts, travel mugs and carry bags.
Dad and his famous nose immortalized on a travel mug for Camp Stegall III in 2008

This year, most of us visited Brook Green Gardens together, a beautiful area filled with statues and flowers. Definitely a nice place to visit, but the 90-plus temperatures and high humidity were draining. Go in the spring if you get the chance to visit.
Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC

The Cousins
Kelsey (14), Paris (11), Tyler (17) and Weston (14)

Camp Stegall is our newest family tradition that I hope will continue into the next generation. It's kind of cool when you actually get along with and like your own family.


  1. Thanks for Sharon for such an excellent summary of Camp Stegall. This has, for me, been one of those events that has worked out better than expected.

    When we started doing this, June (who has done the lion's share of planning and logistics) and I thought we should be as non-prescriptive as possible. This was hard for an OCAR like me, but I was not sure everyone would even want to be together for a whole week! As someone, not in the family, observed to me just this past week, sometimes people, especially family, are better loved from a distance! So as not to pressure anyone, June and I said, come as you wish, when you can, stay as long as you want, and feel free to leave when you want. After the first year, everyone wanted to stay for the entire time!

    As Sharon points out, it does take some doing, and is not without it's stresses, but I cannot imagine anything more gratifying than seeing my children, their spouses, and the grandchildren, really enjoying each other's company. I could not be happier with my extended family.

    Have to give credit to Jeff for the name, Camp Stegall, and the idea of a memento each summer.

    I am a most fortunate Dad and Granddaddy.

  2. Did you notice I put in a hyperlink to your voice-over website? It's subtle, but it's there. Here too:

  3. Hi Sharon,
    Very nice description of Camp Stegall! It is fun to have a family tradition that we all enjoy. Since your Dad's got a link for his website here's mine:
    Love ya!