Everyone has that one place. It’s a place that can make you comfortable. A place that can make you smile even on the days where it’s hard to do that.
For Rebecca Grusby, that place is about 20 minutes down Picciola Road in Leesburg, Florida. In the middle of the state, Grusby has worked at Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center for almost three years.
“It’s hard to put into words what this place has meant to me,” she said. “Some of the people that I’ve met here, I’ll know them for the rest of my life. They’ll be in my wedding.”
The camp, she said, runs seven weeks of campers with about 500 campers per week. Counselors stay at the camp all summer, which helps build camaraderie and life-long connections. The time spent when campers are gone can be some of the most memorable, she said.
“On weekends we stay up late and just talk,” Grusby said. “It’s a relief from being with kids all weekend if I’m honest.”
Before becoming a counselor, Grusby attended the camp for three years as a camper herself. She said seeing the camp from both perspectives has helped her become a better counselor.
Warren Willis Camp offers a different aged camps, Grusby said. From High School camp all the way down to first-graders, she has experience with campers from all age levels. Middle schoolers are her favorite, she said. Middle-school-aged campers are the sweet-spot of mature and immature which make a great camp-week experience.
Grusby learned how to lifeguard at Warren Willis Camp, she said. The camp provided her the American Red Cross lifeguard certification, even paying her to do so.
Grusby helped guard Lake Griffin, the lake with a shore on Warren Willis Camp’s property. On the lake, sailing skills and canoeing skills go out twice a day, she said. Sailing is the most popular skill at camp, and is lovingly called “floating skill” on days where there’s no wind.
While the water calls her home, the chapel is her favorite place at the camp. Being a United Methodist camp, the activities for the day end with Christian worship to end the day. Working at the camp has helped her be closer to God and grow in her faith, she said.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the summer camp closed for the summer of 2020. That summer would have been her third summer working at Warren Willis Camp. Grusby is not done yet, however. She said she plans to work at the camp for the summer of 2021, if the camp is open.
“Warren Willis has always held a special place in my heart,” she said. “I don’t think God is done with me yet at camp. “