Once I was at camp this summer, I found myself very apprehensive about going second term. There were twenty-seven girls in my age group, the 16s, ten more than first term, and I only knew a few of them in addition to the seven other full-termers.
Even though it made no sense, and I had gone to camp for four years, and I knew how easy it was to make friends, still I felt the old familiar feelings of uncertainty creep in. I was scared that it would be difficult to make new friends since almost everybody already knew each other. However, after the first day it was clear that that wasn’t going to be a problem. Everybody was so nice and welcoming, as always, immediately accepting us into their close-knit group. It was so overwhelming to realize just how kind people can be!
New traditions (to me)
Another thing I was worried about during second term were the traditions I hadn’t experienced, such as Candlelight campfire or Banquet. I thought that it might be confusing since I’d never been to one before. Once again, I was wrong. These traditions were just as fun and special even though it was my first time attending them.
Candlelight campfire is a tradition that began in Alleghany’s first year, in 1922. During the campfire, we sing songs and do a ritual called “I Remembers,” which consists of reciting lists of things we remember about the term. For example, some campers will remember Bonnie, Sam, or Elizabeth, and the Upstarts will remember their Upstart Mom (Georgie O’Toole, this year), and she will, in turn, remember the Upstarts. It’s a lovely way to reflect on the term.
After the ceremony, all of the campers and counselors receive a candle lit on the campfire site (which was in the Play Hall this year due to rain), and we sit until all of them are blazing. Then, the 16-year olds go out and line the road with their candles, and all of the campers and counselors come and “kiss’ their candle flame with the 16s, hug us, and say their goodbyes. It’s really sad, but also poignant and beautiful.
Banquet is a very different tradition. It takes place on the last night of the term, and the whole thing is centered around a theme. This year it was Rock ‘n Roll, and was very 1950’s feeling. The theme is kept secret the whole summer by the counselors, until it’s revealed on the night of Banquet. The dining hall is decorated, the counselors dress up and the whole thing is just fabulous! The amazing kitchen staff cooks mountains of delicious food, and the counselors Hop, which is a nice break for the Upstarts. After the meal, everybody heads down to the Play Hall for awards. The awards that are given out are things like department awards — a camper will get her name on a board for being exceptional in an activity. Then the really prestigious awards are given out, such as friendliest and happiest camper, and Junior and Senior camp Spirit.
I hope this isn’t the end, but the beginning
I’m so incredibly glad that I decided to go full term this year. Second term was one of the best experiences I could have imagined. I have so many new friends, and it has prepared me so much for (hopefully!) being a JC next year!
–– Chloë Cook, Camper, Camp Alleghany for Girls