Where We Belong

BirchTrail 2014-46-1

For those of you who have had a chance to check out recent pics, you’re probably psyched at the sight of our recent sailing regatta, which was a huge success! The water was absolutely gorgeous, and there were some nail-bitingly close races!

We lucked out with sunny skies and warm waters for the big BT Sailing Regatta, but of course we do experience a few overcast mornings and sun showers from time to time.

Typically, if the sun goes away for an afternoon or we have a little rain in the first few days of a session, some of the campers who’ve been feeling homesick often have a harder time staying positive. Not so much the case with this group. To be honest, I had prepared a whole set of notes and the rough sketches of a blog post on homesickness, mainly derived from Michael Thompson’s, Homesick and Happy: How Time Away from Parents Can Help a Child Grow. It’s a fantastic, well-received book that resonated with Barbara, and me. Though I find myself not needing to reference it much this year, which is a very good thing, I do at least want to give the book and its author a shout-out.

When I watch the whole camp come together at the council fire ring at night, forming a tightly woven, however tie-died and messy-haired semi-circle, I see a family—a sisterhood. I realize that from the outside, this all just looks like a bunch of yahoos sitting around a big bonfire with a few guitars, singing songs and acting foolish, but inside our traditions and community bonds, children achieve such incredible boon.

What I mean by this is that, in our council fire ring and beyond, everyone experiences the freedom, support, and comfort to sing aloud together, regardless of quality of voice or how well one knows the song (though we have song books with notes and lyrics for campers and staff to follow along with). We make an announcement before the first song of every council fire that we encourage everyone to sing, regardless of whether they have the best voice in the world or the worst voice in the world.

Campers may call out requests for favorite songs, and many songs have playful hand or even stand-up, full-body dances and gestures that go along with certain parts of the songs. These traditions, songs, and dances have been passed down from generation to generation of campers, and are the binding agents of the time-honored love for singing around a campfire.

With a belly full of laughs, the warm glow of a sunset lacing the horizon atop a glassy Lake Pokegama, and a sea of your camp “sisters” all around, each one doing the same thing, at the same time as you, paying homage to traditions and songs and words that have been sung for so many decades—whispered and sung and laughed into these woods—well, I suppose it makes sense that it would be downright difficult to feel alone or scared.

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