Not Just Another Sunset

DSC_0119Happy Friday from sunny camp BT, everyone! I’m delighted to report that the sun is shining in the sky, the birds are chirping overhead, and it is a great day to be here in gorgeous Northern Wisconsin! These bright, boisterous and beautiful campers have sprung into action with their choices of scheduled activities, and things are moving full-steam ahead. We already have three river trips out of camp at the moment, as well as a group paddling the Boundary Waters Nation Canoe Area, another crew hiking the trails of the Isle Royale National Forest, and several Tams sea kayaking around Lake Superior’s lovely Apostle Islands! Some of the campers back in Minong are taking aim down at riflery and archery, learning to use their cameras to document their time at camp in photography, mastering the moves in dance, and perfecting that backhand with the tennis pro, just to name a few.

Speaking of all the fun news to report, have you written a letter to your BT girl yet? Please remember that everyone here loves receiving mail, and handwritten, “old-fashioned,” paper letters are the best. Upbeat, encouraging messages will help your daughter make the most of her time at camp, even though we understand how much you miss her.

So as the sun set on our first full Thursday of first session, we gathered as a camp—as a community—at the council fire ring. The breeze was low, and the sun setting over the trees behind us was probably gorgeous. I didn’t get to watch the sunset last night because I was facing the campers, but I could see the camp photographer busily snapping away down by the waterfront, so I assume it must have been a good one. Another pristine evening here in this incredible place.

As many of you camp parents already know, BT girls love to sing and cheer. And when I say love, I mean LOVE. So when we have a council fire, aka campfire, there are certain songs we sing, and we sing them a certain way, with special gestures and motions and such. There’s one song in particular, Joni Mitchell’s “Circle Game,” that has long been a camp favorite. To help the new campers feel in the loop, a few “old-timer” volunteers will stand up in front of the whole camp and perform the song, complete with all the silly spins, gesticulations, snaps, claps, and whistles. Then, when everyone has giggled their way through one full round, the whole camp starts at the beginning and goes through the song all together. The new campers then not only know the routine, but the camp has also become a cohesive unit by the end of the final verse.

I know it might all sound a little silly to us as adults, but these songs and cheers—these ritual hand motions that get passed down through the generations at summer camps—these are the kinds of things that children thrive on. Ritual, tradition, stability, silly songs, wild gestures; it’s all pretty important stuff when you get to thinking about it.

Ok, so maybe I couldn’t actually see the sunset at its peak last night—this is true. But I’ve seen this inimitable Northern Wisconsin sky for most of my life and I can tell you that I would trade it for no other. I will tell you also that instead of gazing out onto this untouched, pristine natural beauty, I was happy to watch over and entertain the happy faces of your bright kiddos, who have been a joy to have in camp from sunrise to sundown and every moment in between.

4 thoughts on “Not Just Another Sunset”

  1. Amazing to see that the current campers enjoy singing the same songs in the Birch Trail songbook that I did in the early 80s: Circle Game, Puff the Magic Dragon, etc.!

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