Each summer our Junior Counselors (JCs) lead one of our Vespers. We hold four Vespers events each summer, happening on Sundays at four in the afternoon, 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, and Vespers are among these valuable moments for really resting into place, letting camp fill us deeply within.
Toward the end of camp we had the annual JCs Vespers. In leading their Vespers, the JCs decided among themselves this summer to use the analogy of comparing camp to a tree as a way of seeing camp in a new light. Each JC took a different part of the tree to explore (e.g. branches, roots, bark, etc), and each wrote a little something about how that part of the tree is like camp in some respect.They then shared these with the whole of camp during their Vespers.
To give you but one example of the many touching explorations, JC Izzy chose to write about the shade that a tree provides, and how that is similar to camp. Below is her write-up, which I felt was perfect timing as everyone is re-entering the non-camp world and adjusting to life after camp.
Izzy on How Camp is Like the Shade of a Tree
Shade is where you go on a hot and sunny day. When you don’t have a fan and the air is still, you seek out shade as a respite from the heat.
You don’t wish the heat away for good, but after a while, when the sun’s rays get too strong, the shade of a tree is the perfect remedy.
Much like a tree, camp spreads its branches and its leaves, weaving together a canopy of shade for all those in need of a break from the intensity of the outside world. It does not serve as a permanent shelter, allowing you to evade all of life’s difficulties. But instead camp’s shadow figuratively cools you down.
From camp you leave refreshed, equipped with all the confidence and clarity necessary to face the blazing sun that is life.
However, on a hot and sunny day, it can seem impossible and frankly pointless to step out from under the protection of a tall tree into the fiery sunlight beaming down. Only it is important to consider all that you would miss if you were to remain sitting in the comfort of the shade:
Leaving camp at the end of the summer feels like stepping out of the shade. In that camp is where you feel your best, and re-integrating yourself into life at home is a daunting task.
But camp, like shade, does not act as a forever rest spot. It works to recharge and prepare you for what lies ahead. It can be a painful departure, but without the goodbyes there would be nothing new to come your way. You would face no new challenges, have no new experiences, and never put to use all of the growth you earned during your time here.
A tree casts a shadow. It protects all those who wander beneath it. Appreciate the shade cast down by our tree we call camp.
Thank you Izzy…that one goes down in the books as the best way to “throw shade,” the opposite of its regular meaning.
As I pack up and get ready to go back into life, I too find it hard, but necessary, to let go of all the comforts that camp provides. But I do so knowing that, just as summer turns to fall and winter, that again we will turn to spring and to another summer. Which means another chance to return to our Tree of Life — Camp Alleghany for Girls!
— Ellizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls