View of Left Bank and Lake Susan with gazebo in the foreground.

Kicking off Summer

Posted on

“Okay, folks, summer is here, and it’s time to roll up our sleeves and get busy!”  

Over the last ten years, I’ve learned not to say such silly things, having long ago learned that each and every summer in Montreat represents the product of hard work over months of preparation by staff and volunteers here and afar. Thankfully, we have a promising summer ahead, with programs, recreation, arts, and worship – something for everyone. Some predictions:  

The conference schedule remains the same and will attract a similar number of participants as did the summer before. A newly renovated Barn will welcome dancers and Clubbies. Recreation programs will start slowly, be full to overflowing by July, and taper off slowly, if at all. August will feature another strong Women’s Connection conference. Our staff members at the conference center will welcome it all.    

As familiar as the next nine weeks may feel to some, one unusual challenge has arrived to remind us that – to reframe a familiar phrase – the more things stay the same, the more they change. Coming into May, our summer staff numbers were projecting lower this year. This undesired new reality was not a function of design but of an applicant pool that, while high in quality, was lower in quantity than we were used to receiving. While some last-minute recruits have eased the shortage, some effects will be felt. For example: 

  • Available staffing will affect directly some offerings and their hours of operation. At this writing, for example, the waterfront, pool, and childcare are three areas that have made necessary adjustments due to smaller staffs.  
  • Some of our summer staff will be available only for portions of the summer due to other commitments. This isn’t a new issue, but it struck us more acutely this year than it ever has. So, you may notice new faces popping up on staff as the summer progresses.  
  • We will have less flexibility during especially busy weeks. Every year, I marvel at the ways that staff leaders juggle assignments to reinforce places of need and times of high demand. This year, by contrast, leaders are already scheming up solutions to cover as much as possible. Come July, we will have fewer metaphorical rabbits to pull out of our metaphorical hats.  

You may end up feeling the effects and be led to wonder, “How could this happen!?”  — or maybe that’s just the voice in my own head. Theories abound. One helpful parent, for instance, offered financial support in hopes of helping us find additional staff. (While it was a generous offer, the problem appears not to have been budgetary, at least in the short term.) Further, we are mindful that one year does not a trend make.  

Regardless, there will be time to study the “why” question. For now, we want to make sure this summer is outstanding, and this Sunday morning in worship we will commission some outstanding people to help make it so. Whatever else we may suppose, we know that God’s hand is in all the ways we experience this special place, always helping us find new ways to be Montreat together. The opportunity to share and enjoy Montreat with family and friends old and new is before us once again. As always, I’m grateful for the role you will play. Thanks be to God!

Richard DuBose

Richard DuBose
President, Montreat Conference Center