4th of July Traditions and Rituals at Our Summer Camp in NHJuly 5, 2017
Today was the 4th of July which meant it was a day of some of our favorite traditions and rituals. Lots of campers and counselors arrived at morning assembly wearing their most patriotic gear. After singing happy birthday to our friend Maddy, we raised the flag and said the Pledge of Allegiance.
Afterwards, most of Camp went out for regular activities, but not our Evergreen Big and Little Sisters. For the past few days they’ve been working with Deena, Courtney, and Kristy the Baker making and decorating cookies to sell at our town’s 4th of July parade. For years now our girls have made a tradition of selling baked goods and bottles of water at this event, donating the proceeds to a local homeless shelter for mothers and children.
It was a great morning of giving back to our community while also helping further bond our Big and Little Sisters together. As you can see they had a blast hanging out together.
In the evening we had our annual 4th of July BBQ. Chef Arnaldo and his team put out quite a spread, including hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ smoked ribs, pasta salad, fresh watermelon, a variety of green salads, veggie burgers and grilled chicken. As is always the case at K&E events all of the food was peanut and tree nut free, and there were gluten and dairy free options for anyone who needed them.
As always, our head baker Kristy and her team made some incredible desserts for us. Tonight is was a freshly baked biscuit for strawberry shortcake, coupled with homemade whipped cream and fruit compote. JT, who makes all of our meals for day and overnight trips was also a huge part of making all of this happen, and we send our thanks to them!
To help further strengthen the relationships, we started the dinner by calling up the Big and Little Brothers at the same time. They all sat together at dinner and loved having just a little extra time to be together. Next up came the Big and Little Sisters who also loved having the chance to sit together for a meal, especially outside on such a beautiful night.
This day has its big traditions, like the Evergreen Sibling cookie sale and our fireworks display. A little tradition that always makes me smile is when this guy eats his plate of ribs. As a younger camper he was a messy eater and was covered in BBQ sauce at his first Camp 4th of July BBQ. Now he’s older and more mature, but he still enjoys the tradition of eating his favorite Camp meal and having me capture it with my camera. I just love when our kids revel in being this silly.
Like these two guys. Last summer was their first season at our overnight camp in NH, and they totally fell in love with the folk singer/performer we bring in on this night. For more than 30 years Nancy Tucker has been wowing K&E audiences, most notably with her song about eating watermelon. In honor of her return they painted their faces and bodies and were the first at the tent so that they could get the best seats in the house.
I’ve tried in the past to describe the scene when Nancy Tucker performs at our summer camp. I’m not sure even a video could do it justice. Our entire community screams and cheers from the moment she steps on the stage and the enthusiasm doesn’t stop until she is done. Campers of all ages make signs and even print up t-shirts celebrating her concert. Here’s a video I shot of one of her songs. Every single camper and counselor is singing along at the top of their lungs while most also have their arms around each other in a mixture of celebration and solidarity. Moments like this truly define for me what this community is all about.
A new ritual that cropped up in the last two years is after the concert when dozens and dozens of campers rush the stage and ask Nancy to sign their clothing!
After the concert we all made our way to the Field of Dreams, our newest and largest soccer field. To make getting there just a bit more special Head Counselor Walshy lined the wooded path along the lake with torches. This little touch made the walk even prettier, and more solemn.
Once we were all there Pete and the Maintence Crew put on a spectacular fireworks display that had the entire community ooh’ing and ahh’ing. This short clip of the finale should give you an idea of how great tonight’s show was.
Traditions and rituals are crucial in a community like ours. They help us mark the important events on our calendar, but also give meaning to these moments that we share with one another. Seconds after reveille this morning I heard campers celebrating all that they knew would be happening today. I also heard our veteran campers regailing their friends who were new to the community with stories of why today would be so enjoyable for them, and why every aspect of this day mattered.
I love what all of this means to so many here, myself included.