A Special Show of Thanks


What a whirlwind week we’ve had! After wrapping up Pandemonium, the whole camp jumped into the action of a fabulous 4th of July! Sometimes parents will ask if it’s strange for our girls to be at camp during the 4th of July. But as you can see from all the fun photos of the day, we have a pretty great time together celebrating the holiday. With all of these friends around, all of these fun things to do together, and all these surprises and treats provided, how could it be any better?

It’s been a tradition for BT girls to dress the part, covered head-to-toe in the gold old red, white, and blue, as we start the day off with a flag-raising ceremony (led by the youngest campers in Cabin M1) followed by a the whole camp reciting together the Pledge of Allegiance. If we could make it red, white and blue on Wednesday, we did! Table directions, streamers in the lodge, hats and headbands, beaded necklaces, our clothing, temporary tattoos, even some of the food we ate, like the amazing traditional July 4th breakfast of waffles with whipped cream, blueberries, and strawberries— nothing was immune to the embellishment this kind of patriotic spirit inspires. Likewise, there wasn’t a meal all day that we didn’t sing something like American Pie or Coming to America, as well as the normal raucous Birch Trail songs. The BT campers and staff were wonderful hosts tocampNorth Star, who came over to visit and celebrate the holiday with us.

After the hubbub of the 4th of July subsided, it was back to the incredible camp routine. Last night, after a gorgeous day of projects (and yes—the weather has cooled down enough for us all to enjoy being outside in comfort), we had a beautiful council fire as the sun set over the lake behind us. At last night’s council fire, we sang songs, played games, and wrapped up the night with one of Birch Trail’s most important traditions: the key log ceremony.

During our council fires at camp, which are an important time for the whole camp community to reconnect as a group, we give the campers and staff an opportunity to throw a “key log” into the fire as a way of showing appreciation for an act of kindness or friendship. The key log ritual harkens back to the days when loggers and lumberjacks roamed these acres, and we make a point to explain the rich history behind the gesture. If you’d like to read the full story of how we came to appreciate key logs, and just what a key log is exactly, check out our previous blog about it all here.

When a camper wishes to say thank-you to someone for doing or saying a kind thing, they pick a small stick or twig to throw in the fire while explaining who the key log is for and why. It’s wonderful to hear about all the good deeds the kids are doing, and to hear staff members thank their campers and co-workers. This tradition teaches the campers several important lessons about learning how to put their feelings into words, and also learning how to speak in front of an audience. What’s positively striking about seeing the campers show their appreciation is just how many of them thank their parents for sending them to Birch Trail.

After the council fire finished and the campers went back to their cabins, I was talking with our camp doctor for this week, Dr. Amanda Cohn, who works as a pediatrician at the CDC. I told her how lucky she was to be able to witness the giving out of key logs, and how much I’ve always wanted a way for the parents to see this part of camp. The key log ceremony a sacred tradition and special part of camp that the parents never get to see, but I sure wish they could. Parenting is a tough gig, and we do an awful lot of thankless jobs for our kids. Well, here’s proof that your daughters DO appreciate you!

Though you may not get to see these gestures of gratitude in person, I’m pleased to report that all of you back home are not far from the minds of your daughters, and that they truly appreciate the gift you are giving them in allowing them to come to camp.

2 thoughts on “A Special Show of Thanks”

  1. About the cabin next to the Council Fire ring: That was my cabin for my last two years at BT (1982 and 1983). I can’t believe it’s still standing there after three decades! Does it still house campers, or is it used for something else?

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