In 2013, when I was a 16-year-old camper, I stayed full term for the first time. Every year prior I had only come first term so that year was technically the first where I got to enjoy Candlelight Campfire.
I had heard a lot about it and as a dyed-in-the-wool Christmas lover, I was excited to experience it first hand. And it was true — it was a beautiful ceremony.
That year it happened to be pouring down rain, so we all congregated in the Play Hall instead of the little hollow off of Vesper Hill where camp would usually gather for Candlelight Campfire.
The traditional style
However, since that year was not the strictly traditional Candlelight “experience,” I was again extremely excited this past summer when I got to enjoy the ritual as it was intended to be.
What a thing to behold -— roughly 300 girls (as well as staff) sitting in that little grove, every one of us holding a candle and singing songs.
As the sun began to set and darkness cloaked us, the little sparks of our candles became like fireworks in their brightness. The 16s lined the rifle road, and all of us — the swath of campers and staff — got to kiss our candles with theirs as a form of goodbye to the departing 16s.
We then processed to our respective tents and firmly rested (stuck) our candles to our sets of concrete steps. Again it was a vision of glowing, gentle light.
Earlier that day, we had all written down wishes on scraps of paper, and we burned them there, with our Candlelight candles. Speaking in hushed whispers and recounting our favorite memories of the summer was such a magical experience, and one that I will never forget.
Candlelight Campfire reprise
This holiday season, my first real break from college, I’ll be spending most of my time catching up on sleep, babysitting, working part-time at a local restaurant, and volunteering a bunch of extra shifts at the Staunton Augusta Rescue Squad on which I’m a junior member.
But this Christmas Eve, I’ll again be lighting the candle that I carried with me during Candlelight Campfire. I will remember my summers there, and I will think happily of the summers yet to come. I hope you will, too!
— Chloe-Ester Cook, Alum and Staff, Camp Alleghany for Girls