July 8, 2014
Each Sunday, we conclude the day with a gathering called Vespers. The girls meet at their sailpoint while the boys meet at ours. The picture today is a painting made by our Fine Arts Department Head of boys’ vespers.
Vespers is one of my favorite times at camp because we get a chance to celebrate our community and reflect on the week. I know this sounds solemn, but let me assure you that two decades of camp have taught is that young campers only have so much reflection in them, so the entire gathering is generally less than half an hour.
But it is an important half hour. We gather around separate campfires, with the girls on their sailpoint and the boys on theirs. We wear white shirts. The shirts are not symbolic of anything really, but they are used just to set the experience apart from the rest of the week. Sometimes, an inside-out camp uniform shirt is the closest we have to a white shirt, but that works just fine.
Susie Ma’am leads girls’ vespers. Her theme is “never put the keys to your happiness in someone else’s hands. She tells the girls that everyone tells the world how they expect to be treated. If you want to be respected, respect yourself and others. She suggests ways to carry yourself so that you let the world know that you are strong and worth knowing. We are all responsible for our won happiness.
She suggested that camp is a wonderful place to try new things, stretch yourself and practice being spectacular.
I suspect that she will be asking girls “who has your keys” for a while.
On the guys’ side, we talked about appreciation. We did Grateful Deeds, where campers publicly acknowledge acts of kindness in others.
I told them the Tiger Story about how each of us is a powerful and unique tiger that is capable of extraordinary things (I will share the story with you in a later blog).
I than asked the boys to do something challenging – be silent for 2 minutes. During that time, I asked them to listen to the sounds, feel the breeze, watch the sunset and think about all the wonderful things in their life. We encouraged them to appreciate the families that love them enough to share the gift of camp, cabinmates that are fun and willing to play, and counselors that are awesome and supportive.
We all have so much to be grateful for. I think it is wonderful when we take the time to do so.
Also, being with almost 200 boys and men sitting in silence together is a pretty cool experience. Susie similarly loves her time with the girls as they all stare into the fire and share.
After Vespers, all the campers got Sunday Sundaes (ice cream with multiple possible toppings) as a special treat to celebrate our first full week together.
We now go happily into our next week together. I love the second week. Everyone understands the rhythms of camp and knows our traditions. The first year campers are no longer “new” campers and camp feels like a family.
Perhaps a very loud and chaotic family, but a family nonetheless!