News from Trinity Center
by Executive Director Penn Perry
It's funny. Every year when I sit down in October to write about what happened at Trinity Center over the summer, I end up working hard to remember what actually did happen. Summer is such a blur here. Unsurprisingly for a camp and conference center at the beach, it is our busy season. Summer Sound-to-Sea, our day camp, and Camp Trinity, our residential summer camp, are operating at full speed. In addition, our conference center is really hopping with groups and individuals looking to take advantage of our unique retreat atmosphere.
Oddly enough, it is the weather-related emergencies that I remember the most. This year Hurricane Arthur passed directly over Trinity Center early on the morning of July 4. Arthur went by as a category two hurricane with peak winds of 100 mph. In fact, Hurricane Irene did much more damage to property in 2011 when it passed close by as a category one storm with peak winds of 85 mph. Even though it was technically a weaker storm, Irene stayed over us for much longer, so that we saw effects from all four quadrants of the storm, meaning that the island was buffeted from all four directions. Carteret County did call for a mandatory evacuation of the island in advance of Hurricane Irene, but did not call for a mandatory evacuation of the island in advance of Hurricane Arthur. We followed all the same protocols for both storms – our hurricane plan is extensive and well-honed. We did evacuate the conference center in front of Hurricane Irene. On the other hand, our Sound-to-Sea Day Camp ran both the day before and the day after Hurricane Arthur passed by. In addition, we had a camp of middle school children in Camp Trinity, and we were hosting a Road Scholar event.
I know exactly when the eye passed overhead, because my wife and I were in our condo next door to Trinity Center, and our boys were asleep upstairs. We had a full camp of kids in the dorms at Camp Trinity, and they slept through the entire event. The power blinked a couple of times, but it never went out. The decision I made to keep my own children on the island was no different than the one I made to keep the Camp Trinity children on the island. Given that this was the eighth named storm I have lived through on this island in my twenty-seven years of service to Trinity Center, I was confident that we were safe here. I respected the power of Hurricane Arthur, but I also knew that it was moving too quickly to cause much trouble.
I believe the parents of Camp Trinity trust me that I would never intentionally place their children in harm's way. I believe that I have earned that trust over many years. I can honestly say that if I were even remotely concerned, I would have called for a full evacuation of Camp Trinity. We have successfully evacuated Camp Trinity twice, both times to St. Mary's Episcopal Church in Kinston, NC. Mary Beth Bradberry, Director of Camp Trinity, had the buses on standby and the staff prepared. If I had thought it necessary, she would have initiated the evacuation, and the campers of Explorers II would have had a different story to tell about their camp session.
We in the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina are so lucky to have this particular location for our camp and conference center. It is a unique coastal environment, and it offers such a specific retreat experience. Our island home offers challenges as well. I believe one of the most difficult aspects of my job to be the decision-making that happens around weather emergencies. I promise that I will continue to make the best decisions to protect our property, our guests, and most especially our children.
Come and visit when you can. We'd be glad to see you.