Each summer our Leaders-In-Training (LITs) will lead one of our Vespers. We hold four Vespers events each summer, happening on Sunday evenings for Evening Activity, and intended as a time for non-denominational and non-religious reflection and group introspection. When any group leads the Vespers, it’s their chance to shine, to lead, to help guide the group into what they themselves are offering in this reflective mood.
Vespers is a treasured and very special part of camp. With all our hustle and bustle in so many ways, it’s a good reminder to know that we have important aspects of camp just for slowing down — Free Time, Rest Hour, Campfire, and Vespers are among these valuable moments for really resting into place, letting camp fill us deeply within.
This summer was the first year of our Leaders-In-Training Program and an important part of that was having the LITs lead a Vespers. As each LIT had a chance to speak, and they talked about their experience as the very first group of LITs- including their thought process going into LIT summer and their growth as LITs throughout the summer. We randomly picked four of those to share with you so that you could hear from the LITs in their own words.
This summer’s Head of Leaders-In-Training, Teresa Padgett, shared with me what went into the LITs process in preparation for their Vespers.
“Beforehand the LITs worked hard as a team to come up with thoughtful questions to answer and memories to share,” Teresa said. “They each wrote letters about why they decided to come back to camp as LITs and the important lessons they learned during their LIT summer.”
What Being an LIT Has Meant to Me
As of today, I’ve been at camp for exactly four weeks, which is crazy. The amount of useful life skills I’ve learned is countless. But I have to say the most valuable thing I’ve learned is how to be patient and how to work with other people as a group of 10. We’re working on projects together constantly. This requires us to work with and be respectful of each other, which is very important. I’ve learned that in order to work efficiently with that many other girls you have to be patient or nothing ever gets done. Since the beginning of the summer, our teamwork skills have grown and developed so much thanks to the help of our many responsibilities. After a while, we now know how to get things done in a productive manner. Thank you camp for teaching me all of these things!
All my Golden ‘Ghany Love,
So far, I’ve spent a total of 29 days with my nine fellow LIT’s. That’s equivalent to 2,419,200 seconds (two million, four hundred nineteen thousand, two hundred seconds). In those fast passing seconds, I have been taught numerous lessons such as: communication skills, life guarding, and how to use the “party bag.” But most of all, I’ve learned how to open myself up to trusting others. At the beginning of camp, I was introduced to three girls I had never met before. Within three days, we were hiking the middle of the woods together. That four-day backpacking trip allowed us to bond in a special way. The once strangers are now legit my best friends. We have had to help each other through different challenges that have been thrown at us. As LITs we have many different responsibilities and are given so many special opportunities I wouldn’t want to do these things without my favorite people and two of the best moms. Without my nine fellow LITs my summer would be empty and bland, that is why I am oh so very thankful for my Golden LITs.
All my Golder ‘Ghany Love,
— Mary Winters
This is my sixth summer here at ‘Ghany and I’ve got to say that every year there’s something different. ‘Ghany never fails to surprise me every year, maybe that is why I really wanted to come back even as a full-termer. I guess it was never really a hard decision, since six weeks spent here, at this beautiful place where I can stargaze and roam all the time, always seems like the right choice for me. But even as a full-termer, the decision was not that simple. Ever since I knew that the LIT program was going to happen in place of our 16s summer, I knew I had to come back. It just seemed like a good program and very useful in our future and we got to be the first ones. So I signed up and was pretty excited about it. After a little while, I found out that we were going to be only 10 LITs total — not gonna lie — at first I was really nervous of how it would turn out. But now that I’m here, I couldn’t ask for anything better. Being only a group of 10 has been a blessing in disguise. We’ve bonded and grown so close, and for that I’m so glad. Now I can’t imagine myself being in any other place with any other people. I’m on Vesper Hill once more, with my favorite Golden Butterball LIT Sisters and the two best LIT moms.
Lastly, I want to thank ‘Ghany for teaching me how to be true to myself, for having the opportunity of new experiences such as a four-day backpacking trip, popsicles in Highland County, visiting another camp, getting our LIT Lodge, and many more. They were not only fun, but also opportunities to step out of our comfort zone, broaden our horizons, and step up as leaders and take the initiative. I’ve also learned how to respect others and their differences.
‘Ghany has taught me many things that have made me happy which doesn’t seem difficult since we’re in a really outstanding place which many people accurately describe as, “a little piece of heaven.” All in all, I’m so thankful for having had the opportunity to be at camp as an LIT with my beloved golden sisters and moms.
All my Golden ‘Ghany love,
As we all sit on Vesper Hill and look at the spectacular view, I think to myself there’s no place on Earth I’d rather be. For the past six summers ‘Ghany has been my home. I honestly don’t remember a summer I didn’t come to camp. I always imagined myself as going full-term my 16s summer since I was in Unit 3 Junior Camp. My ambitions slightly changed when the LIT program was announced my 13s summer. I’m not someone who handles change well, so initially I was angry that I would be giving up the special traditions of being a 16.
After every summer when I got home from camp I would immediately sign-up for the next year. But at the end of my 15s summer it was a little different. I came into 15s summer debating about whether this was my last year or whether I would come back. I was stuck between LIT summer or being a page on Capitol Hill.
I ended up signing up for LIT about a week after camp ended, still undecided. A few months passed by and I travelled in March to Madrid, Spain for spring break. With my suitcase stuffed with packets of ranch dressing and York peppermint patties, I got to see one of my best friends, Rocio. Those few hours I spent with Rocio were moments I will not forget from that trip. As we both said goodbye in the Plaza del Sol metro station, both of us about to cry, I knew then and there I wanted to come back as an LIT and I couldn’t spend a summer without Rocio.
Despite me knowing then and there I knew where I wanted to be this summer, I faced challenges. Two of my good camp friends and classmates had dropped out of LIT that April. I remember crying in the hallways at school knowing that both of them wouldn’t be returning. To be honest, I was scared to be at camp this summer without the people I’ve seen and known every year at camp. I was scared for First Term and not knowing what to expect. Yet now I’ve met some of the best people who I feel I’ve known for a lifetime. Now I can’t imagine a summer without my shining golden sisters. Love you- Meredith, Amelia, Rocio, Sarah, Coleman, Peyton, Mary Winters, Mimi, and Lura.
All my Golden ‘Ghany Love,
— Elizabeth B.
As you can see from their own words, our Leaders-In-Training each experienced so much anticipation, hesitation, uncertainty, challenge, beauty, comfort, a sense of home and belonging, growth, new experiences, new skills, love, friendship, warmth, and happiness as an LIT.
In addition, Teresa told me that the LITs, “…also wrote a sweet song to the tune of ‘Our Last Summer’ from the movie Mamma Mia.”
She went on to say that, “The LITs demonstrated courage and vulnerability by sharing about challenges and areas of growth with the whole camp. They each touched on what a special summer it was and how close they grew as a group. They were honest, thoughtful and encouraging in how they shared their experiences. It was a wonderful way for the camp at large to understand more about the LIT program and honor the confident, compassionate and courageous LITs of 2019!”
It’s true! As we all watched the new LITs in their progression from 15s last summer, and in their first steps into the LIT world this summer and across the arc of the summer, we saw in every one of them a blossoming young woman with leadership capacities, openness to growth and development, and strength, confidence, and courage.
We applaud them for not only being LITs, but for being willing to be the very first LITs ever! They took a chance with us, and to each of them we will always feel grateful for their continued belief in what being a ‘Ghany Girl means and can mean, even as it changes from experience to experience.
We’re excited to welcome our next cohort of LITs to camp next summer to continue what is already a great new tradition!
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls