Thoughts of Remembrance of Bat McGrath – By Gary Mervis
I really didn’t know Bat until some of our volunteers had an idea to have a concert featuring some music artists who got their start here in Upstate New York. Bat was one of the first people who was asked and agreed to do it. Unfortunately, the concert never happened because of the flooding that had occurred down at camp, resulting in over a half of a million dollars in damages.
Later on, when Bat traveled from his home in Nashville to visit this area, he decided to visit camp and see it for himself. He said that when he was going back home, he had the desire to write a song about Camp Good Days. One day, my assistant told me that she had received an email from Bat along with a song that he had written about camp. It was difficult for me to hear it and understand it, so I had my assistant email him back and ask if he could send it to me on a CD. Bat went out, rented a studio and recorded the song so that I could have a CD version of it. When I listened to it, I fell in love with it, and I shared it with my staff who also fell in love with it. So, I invited Bat when he came back the next summer to actually come to camp and see camp in session and play his song, which he did with his wife. While he was at camp, he said it would be great if we could put a video with the music so that I or my staff could use it when we made presentations about Camp Good Days. So, Bat made some calls to his friends and he got someone who would be able to create a video for the song.
A few days before Christmas that year, I got a call from the person who put the video together asking if I could come out to their office and see the finished product. And I have to admit, I was a little taken aback not only because the video was so well done and so beautiful, but because, unbeknownst to me, they had slipped in a few videos of Teddi and I. I have to say, if I have used that video once, I have used it 100 times and every time I do, I feel so fortunate that Bat came into my life.
Like many of you, I am sure; I was shocked to learn that he had been diagnosed with cancer last year. And when I had heard that he was going to play some of his music at Lovin’ Cup, I called one of the owners, Leslie Zinc, to ask if she could get me into the sold out show, and she made sure that Wendy and I had seats at his last concert. It was emotional to see him because he had lost probably 40 pounds and he was weak, but the showman that he was, he stood and performed for the whole concert, and then he even had CDs available that he sat down to sign for his fans. Every time I see that beautiful video, I will think of him.
I wanted to write this blog because I think it is important that we recognize these two very special people. In Bat’s case, we are going to dedicate the music hut at camp to him. And then for Laurie, we will do a special activity at camp in her honor next summer.