Dance night at camp is a big deal.

Before I write anything more, let me describe a typical dance.

Remember those awkward junior high dances where boys and girls lined up at opposite ends of a room awaiting the first person to ask someone to dance?  At that dance, everything was about whom you danced with and how many dances you danced.

Camp dances are nothing like this.

Virtually everyone is dancing, but very few are dancing in pairs (and if they are, they’re typically the campers 13 and up. One of the benefits of a coed camp, at least for the older kids, is this camp dance night where they learn to navigate a few conversations and dances with their “camp crush,” or CC).  Campers dance with their cabinmates with their counselors.  Campers create 70 person conga lines.  Some just dance by themselves. While well monitored by counselors, of course, camp dances are a wonderful time of free play and controlled chaos. 

We also have a tradition called “the Robbie” named after one of our Activity Directors, Robbie Messner.  Every morning at boys flag-raising, Robbie teaches “a dance move”. These moves are often based on activities at camp.  So we have dance moves derived from sports, sprinklers, mowing, yoga and even putting laundry in a laundry bag.   At the dance itself, Robbie stands in one corner of the Parthenon (our covered gym on the boys side where the dance happens) and leads the shier campers through some of the moves.

Perhaps the best “Robbie” happens during the one slow song.  As you might imagine, the vast majority of campers have no interest in the slow songs. After all, it is hard to slow dance with an entire cabin.  Unless, of course, you do the Robbie. He will lead them through interpretive dance moves where they act like they are fountains or rainbows.  Counselors also do impromptu silly dances with their cabins.

I also love that the vast majority of campers dress up for the dance.  Tonight we had the School Pride dance.  Susie wore Michigan gear to recognize her alma mater.  I wore my tiger suit.  I was a Davidson Wildcat as an undergrad (I do not know how to represent the Harvard “Crimson”), so I think this counts.   I also could be a Tiger from Auburn, LSU, Princeton, Trinity University, Missouri and about 10 other places.  

Here are a few additional sights that you can count on seeing at every dance:

  • The 8 or 9 year old boy who THINKS he can break dance.  This ubiquitous camper confuses rapid motion with actual break-dancing.  To the untrained eye, it might look slightly like the start of a grand mal seizure, but I assure you that the camper KNOWS that he is killing it.
  • The cabin of 7 year-old girls that hop happily in a circle to the music with their counselor.  They are inevitably dressed adorably, so this is awesome.
  • A group of counselors that choose to make the dance into an impromptu workout.  They will choose a movement (lunges, deep knee bends, running in place) and do this motion for the entire duration of a song. 
  • Roaming packs of counselors doing 30-60 second dances with campers unsure of what to do. 
  • Campers lining up to take pictures next to the themed backdrop.  The campers in 7-11 (the girls who just finished 9th grade and are starting the Senior Camper program) create the backdrop for these photos.

In short, a camp dance is unlike other dances. They are less social events and more silliness set to music.  I hope you enjoy the photos later.


Steve Sir


Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/benefits-of-free-play-at-summer-camp