June 16, 2014
Each session, we have an initiation ceremony where campers learn whether they are Trojans or Spartans for our team competitions.
Part of camp is to create unusual and memorable moments for the campers. Some moments are created by activities. Water toys (being pulled on an inflatable around the lake), Pirate Ship (climbing and traversing above the ground), horseback, archery and ceramics are all examples of activities that are often only done at camp.
Our torchlight ceremony is different and special. It also creates fun memories.
When a camp is at its best, it finds ways to manufacture extra opportunities for memories.
The Trojan-Spartan initiation is one such event.
Every camper becomes a Trojan or a Spartan and participates in our Trojan-Spartan games, which we have 3 times between now and Closing Day. Once initiated, a camper is “A Trojan (or Spartan) for life.” We designed the initiation to feel special and memorable.
The returning campers all “paint up” – red for Spartans, blue for Trojans. Members of the Leadership Team (who are all neutral) officiate over the ceremony. Each new camper comes up and learns his or her team. The exact details of the process are slightly different for boys and the girls, but the essence is the same. The event feels weighty. The teams cheer loudly and welcome their new members. We paint the campers with their team color and share stories around campfires.
If you take a step back, it is really pretty silly. We are bunch of young adults (your humble narrator as the notable exception) covered in paint, holding torches and talking about Hellenic Greece. OK, I understated. It is completely silly.
Unless it is not.
We tell the counselors that they have the opportunity to make any moment magical, but they must embrace being the magicians. We will have thousands of moments that are silly or fun, but not as many that are serious. We challenge them to “hold the space” and make this gathering memorable.
I was delighted at how the counselors and the Senior Campers (members of our high school leadership program) rose to the occasion. As I looked at the faces of campers, I saw excitement and awe. They were not just boys anymore, but heroes. Susie Ma’am reports that girls’ initiation was also a great gathering of heroes.
Not a bad night on Lake LBJ.