I know for myself that, while all this feels — and is — totally crazy, that everything we’re going through is made easier because I’m part of a longtime camp community stretching into the past and reaching into the youngest generation. It’s all made easier because of all of YOU!
So first off, a big thank you to ‘Ghany Girls everywhere — YOU are what WE are all about.
And a hat tip to technology right now, too. Because of advances in online communications we were actually able to hold our first ever international Virtual Campfire via the platform Zoom and shrink the distance between us all.
We did this while bringing camp into participants’ homes in a way that bolstered us all during this difficult time. It was an amazing sight to see so many generations of campers, counselors, alumni all brought together as a ‘Ghany community.
And talk about participants! I’m glad I upgraded my account beforehand because we had 275 people log in to warm their hearts and roast their imagined s’mores around our fire.
A Crackling Good Fire!
Our online event followed our traditional Campfire agenda. I began by playing a bugle (on a speaker, not actually me playing it) to signify the start of evening activity. Then 2018’s Senior Camp Spirit Rachel Moore said the poem to light the fire (the previous summer’s Senior Camp Spirit lights our Campfires with a poem, and Rachel did this last summer for us).
Then we always start Campfire with the same three songs, so we sang those together:
- Come Touch a Spark
- The Call of the Fire
- Each Campfire Lights Anew
Then it was time for the skit.
Usually our Campfire skit is performed by a group in camp, such as the Junior Counselors (JCs), or the Midways (age 13), etc. But since we’re all apart from each other right now, the skit was performed by none other than The Theater Troupe Known as The Shreckhises — me and my boys!
My two oldest (almost 6 and 9 1/2 respectively) were very eager to participate, but my 3 1/2-year old is, well, a typical 3-year old right now and got cold feet. He did wander around in front of the screen a few times though :). My husband Matt was our very helpful backstage manager.
Our skit theme was “Camp at Home” and it started out with me saying how bored I am at home, and how much I miss camp. Then I received a letter in the mail from a dear camp friend, which made me want to write her back. When I asked my sons, “What should I write to her about?,” they suggested, “How about write to her about the ways you can have camp at home!”
So that started a series of scenes showing how any of us can have camp at home! We wanted to keep the skit short for short attention spans, so we decided not to go into as great a detail as we could have. (But see more about that below.)
After “Camp at Home,” I had chosen five songs to sing together as a community. Unfortunately, on Zoom there’s a delay on the sound, so with so many people singing it didn’t work very well. However, I’ve figured out a solution to that for our next event, so stay tuned for that!
One of those songs we sang was Country Roads, which definitely made me a little teary eyed. It was easy to see that so many generations of campers and staff felt the same powerful emotions and associations about that song.
We ended with our traditional “Here’s a Health,” and then many people stayed on the Zoom call for quite a while afterward! One sweet Junior Camper said “I just can’t bring myself to turn it off, I just can’t do it!”
I kept the call going until 8pm ET and then told everyone I had to go get my little ones to bed, so I had to end it.
What a delight! In spite of a few hiccups it was super successful. I’m already planning our next Campfire, along with an upcoming Virtual Vespers this Sunday, April 5th, at 7pm ET. Links for that will be sent to the active ‘Ghany community via e-mail.
Let’s Bring Camp Into Our Homes
So what ideas did we share on how to bring camp into our home? And what are even more ideas?
We started out with having a tent. We actually have a play tent, but we said building a fort counts, too! Then we added things to our tent — a sleeping bag, some games, a book and a flashlight/battery-powered lantern.
In the skit we talked about activities we could do that are camp activities:
Wild World: Go on a nature hike, explore outside, or work in your garden! (if you can’t get outside right now or live in a big city, take care of your house plants, read a nature book, or identify things at home that come from natural materials and talk about how they get made.)
Arts & Crafts: Set up a own craft area and get cracking! Pick crafts that remind you of camp, and can also join alumna Katherine Lemay in a future Facebook Live Arts & Crafts Activity (we’ll announce it on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter).
Sports & Fitness: Playing ball in the yard! (Can’t get outside? Try yoga, other kinds of stretching, weight lifting, stair climbing, and Nerf ball catch in a mom-approved area of the house.)
Tennis: You don’t have to go to a tennis court; we play in our driveway. Or table tennis in tight quarters.
Dance: Make up a dance to your favorite song and perform it to your family.
Drama: There’s nothing like a home theatrical for good old camp fun. Perform it for your family or give everyone a part and do it together.
Alleghany Singers: Perform a camp song to your family. OR enjoy listening to our camp songs on our online song player.
Cooking: Cook or bake on your own or with a parent, record yourself and have it be your own Top Chef!
Photography: Snap photos around the house, maybe create a photo scavenger hunt, take pictures of things that remind you of camp, or take the time to create that camp scrapbook!
Now not every camp activity naturally translates to an easy at-home activity. Archery, Rifle, Swimming, Canoeing, and Ropes Course are probably best not “tried at home.” But you could research their terminology, draw a picture of these activities, learn to tie knots (Ropes), or find out who some of the top people in these areas were historically and share your trivia with us for Facebook!
Other ways to bring ‘Ghany into your quarantine included food and meals.
We talked about Lunch Under the Apple Tree (nicknamed LUTAT by the current generation of campers and counselors) — you could go outside and have lunch under any tree, and pretend it’s LUTAT!
Our favorite dessert at LUTAT is peppermint patties, and some people love peanut butter on those. So a great camp memory is eating peppermint patties with peanut butter, especially if you can eat it outside!
We talked about meal hikes and cooking your dinner over a fire which is something you can do at home if you have a fireplace or fire pit. Or you can even make this work in an oven, I’ve seen it done! So the dinner hike meal includes:
Stuffed Burgers: Take your burger meat, split it into 2 patties, put your toppings INSIDE (cheese, onions, tomato, pickles, whatever!), close up the 2 pieces and seal them up, wrap the burger in foil and put it in the fire to cook. You eat these with a fork, no bun (but you could also put it on a bun).
Doughboys: Wrap biscuit dough around a stick and cook it in the fire, top it with butter and jelly or whatever you like on a biscuit.
S’mores; You know the drill — graham crackers, chocolate bars, and marshmallows. (In the skit, we talked about all of these but only did the s’mores piece of it.)
You could even dress for dinner in Blues & Whites!
Other ideas would be:
- A campout in your yard.
- Singing camp blessings before your meals (a regular event in the Shreckhise household).
- Setting up a camp schedule – you can even start your day by making your bed and cleaning up for Inspection!
- Holding morning Assemblies with your family.
- Panning Evening Activities.
- Writing letters to your camp friends / having mail call every day.
So how are YOU bringing camp to YOUR home right now?
One way is to remember to join us this Sunday at 7pm ET for Virtual Vespers!
— Elizabeth Shreckhise, Director, Camp Alleghany for Girls