It’s a long-standing and sacred tradition at Camp Alleghany that on the last campfire of the summer, which is the second-to-last night of the summer, we hold our Candlelight Campfire.
This is a very special campfire site up near Vesper Hill just for this occasion. Those alums who, over the years, attended camp during second term, will remember this very special night. But I also wanted to write it out in detail on the blog, so that you could remember all the special things about it.
The evening begins when last year’s Senior Camp Spirit lights the campfire with the special “first and last campfire” candle. The candle remains burning throughout the campfire. Then the Head of Senior Camp addresses the assembled camp:
Tonight is CandleLight Campfire. It is the last campfire of the summer of 20__. It completes this year’s link in the long chain of campfires, which was begun many years ago at Alleghany. Many of our dearest and most lasting memories of camp are tied up with campfires such as this.
When she is finished saying this invocation, the 16s sing “Loyalty and Friendship,” after which all camp sings “Remember.”
Then the Head of Junior Camp addresses the assembled camp:
This is a time for us to pause and review the good times we have experienced this summer. We have played, sung, and worked together for the enrichment of all. Each camp season, although filled with many traditions of Alleghany, is unique and wonderful in its own special way. You perhaps may ask, “Just what has made this year stand out above the rest?” Tonight we shall attempt to recall many of the things that have opened up new doors of experience to us all.
After this second invocation we all enjoy a choir offering of favorite songs followed by a round of I Remembers. For the uninitiated, the I Remembers are when groups of campers and counselors write up a remembrance of the camp year pertaining to individuals and staff members. Each group is assigned to a particular person or group, such as I Remember…Sam or I Remember Bonnie. Some of our fond I Remembers include:
Senior Camp Heads and Unit Heads
Junior Camp Heads and Unit Heads
After this we enjoy the presentation of Alleghany Rifles (if applicable that year). Then everyone sings together the touching song, “In the Shades of Evening.”
We all feel the tug that things are coming to a close. The Head of Senior Camp recites,
Once, long ago, so long ago that the sun and the moon were young, and the stars were not old enough to stay out after dark, there lived a strange and happy people way up in the mountains of what we now call Northern Italy. These wonderful people had many quaint customs and beliefs, some of which may account for their extraordinary goodness and happiness. One of their ideas was that good deeds and kind thoughts never die, but go on living, embodied in the fireflies that brighten the summer nights—like tiny flashlights trying to show us the way in the dark.
Amidst some teary eyes and and a sense of awe and reverence the Head of Junior Camp recites,
God of the hills, grant us thy strength to go back in to the cities without faltering, strength to do our daily task without tiring and with enthusiasm, strength to help our neighbors who have no hills to remember.
God of the wilderness, with thy pure winds from the northland, blow away our pettiness; with the harsher winds of winter drive out our selfishness and hypocrisy; fill us with the breadth and depth and the height of the wilderness.
May we live out the truths though hast taught us in every thought and word and deed. Amen.
Moving into winter
We always wish to keep with our campers, staff, and the whole Camp Alleghany family a spirit of camp throughout the year. This is captured in our final acts at CandleLight Camp. Everyone gets a candle and at the end we all light them and walk down to tent row in complete silence.
The Head of Senior Camp says,
Tonight our candles are the fireflies, and each candle that we carry from this campfire will carry with it the best of our summer. Shield this candle carefully and after the campfire return to your tents in complete silence. Place the candles on the steps of your tent. Use only the candlelight until taps. Then, having saved part of your candle, light it again on Christmas Eve in memory of Camp Alleghany—in thankfulness for having been able to be here this summer together.
Then the candle lighting begins. The Head of Junior Camp recites,
The Senior Camp Spirits who are here with us this summer will light the Upstart candles. The Upstarts will then turn and light the next circle and then continue lighting until all candles have been lit. Once the candles are lit, please stand and sing Here’s a Health. Afterward, please return to your tents in complete silence.
Everyone keeps their candles lit and puts them on their front step, a beautiful sight that can actually be seen on our camp video (I’m so glad this sweet moment of peace and silence was captured for that).
A light in winter
As you know, campers, staff, and family are supposed to save the candle and light it again on Christmas Eve and think about your time at camp. I hope all our campers will do that this year, bringing a light in winter to our homes.
I invite all our alums to join the spirit with your own candle, connecting all Ghany Girls over the year in a spirit of peace, joy and love!
–Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls