I’m excited to tell you about our first First Term Vespers this year, a meaningful evening of togetherness that is one of the most treasured aspects of our time together as a camp community.
For those of you who don’t know, Vespers is a theme-based Sunday night evening of reflection where we enjoy quiet time together, articulating and exploring what Camp Alleghany is all about, including what we’ve experienced in the preceding week.
It is a calmer, more focused gathering than say, the liveliness of a Thursday evening Campfire with its skits and entertainments.
We share the Vespers experience by listening to a group of people in camp talk about some aspect of Alleghany. The intent is for the campers and counselors to thoughtfully consider the Vespers theme in their own lives.
We also sing some of the quieter Campfire songs, but not the more rowdy, Assembly-type tunes.
Then we have a quiet night afterwards with no milk and cookies. Sometimes a counselor may play guitar and croon in the middle of Junior or Senior camp before bedtime, to cap off the reflective and calm evening.
What camp has taught us
Our first First Term Vespers theme was, “What Camp Alleghany has taught me that I use outside of camp.” Pairs of campers got up before the rest of camp and talked about what they use outside of camp that they learned here.
This was a wonderful theme that really drew a through line from the specialness of camp life back out into the “real world,” showing that, done right, camp is far more than mere vacation time and a childhood summertime distraction, but instead is meaningful, instructive, and empowering.
To link our presenters to the Vespers audience, pairs of campers teamed up to write down their thoughts in response to the theme, inviting them to become participants in the reflection, and unite the “camp family,” even more in our shared camp experience.
The pairs and/or small groups chose things like manners, responsibility, treating others with kindness, etc., wrote down their ideas, and then talked about it to the whole camp, giving campers that confidence-building challenge of addressing the whole assembled group.
And they all did a wonderful job both in their reflections and in their presentations.
I’ve pulled a random sampling of some of the thoughts shared by Senior Camp Unit Three from the papers I collected of their reflections. I thought you would enjoy seeing how the campers express their ideas (with a little editing thrown in for flow).
Lauren & Lizzie write,
Camp Alleghany has taught us the importance of responsibility (through) Upstarting, living with different people, Hopping, (and) keeping clean.
Upstarting (taught) us to take care of Junior campers and 13s while still having fun.
Hopping made us more punctual and conscious of others’ needs.
Living with other people taught us to share our things and accommodate different interests.
Daily inspection has taught us to keep track of our things and to be aware of how our living spaces affect others.
Libby & Nora write:
Many teenagers are constantly on their phones. When we’re at camp we don’t have access to cellphones or screens. Although it can be hard to adapt for the first few days, we all realize the importance of interacting with our friends face-to-face. Once we go home, we continue to talk to our friends and put our phones away.
Anna, Gracie, and Bay reflect on the camp setting saying,
Camp has taught us to realize the beauty of nature and to value everything around us. One reason we love coming to camp every year is that we can escape our regular lives and find ourselves in nature. Going across the barge enforces the idea of leaving behind our problems and worries.
The surrounding mountains, trees, and river bring peace to us as we spend our summer here. We are so excited when camp time comes around because camp is a special place where we are inspired to live a simpler life.
These thoughts and reflections are all so beautiful — I wish I could include everyone’s writings in this blog post!
But thankfully I have all the papers in hand and scanned so we can return to our summer Vespers nights in the heart of winter and recall again what camp teaches us, and what we gain here that we take with us into life “out there!”
So stay tuned to the blog year round to keep that ‘Ghany spirit close to your heat.
— Elizabeth Dawson Shreckhise, Assistant Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls