A Final Night to Say Goodbye to Good Friends…

Three young girls camp campers with candles on the final night of camp.
One of the highlights of the final night of camp is floating wishboats.

The final night of camp is always such a symphony of emotion. This particular session’s end also means that many of our counselors who have been together for ten weeks now, are headed back to life outside the “bubble.” They have rekindled friendships and made some new ones, and it occurs to me (as it has many times before), that “we had a moment” this summer that will never again be rekindled in exactly the same way…with the same friendships, the same convergence of characters and caring…

Your girls were loved in these short weeks. In twenty-one years, I have never seen a counselor staff that has come together as a team like this one has…they understand the mission like we parents do…that is often a “hard bill to fill.” I feel like a proud father tonight. It takes a special young woman to be a counselor. It is hard, demanding work, and the only way you can be successful at it is if “your tank gets filled” by the privilege of working with these girls. When energy is as strong toward the end of a summer…coupled with the experience that on-the-job training brings…we are able to bring the experience that your campers deserve and expect.

If I had to pick a camp theme song this summer (can you tell I’m around girls all the time? (For the record, I don’t have a quote book!)), it would be Carole King’s Now and Forever. “We had a moment…Just one moment…That will last beyond a dream, beyond a lifetime…We are the lucky ones…Some people never get to do…All we got to do…Now and forever…I will always think of you.” It reminds me that we work hard to “grease the wheels” of the experience, but ultimately the experience is about relationships. We are blessed to have a community made up of some pretty special people, and I am thankful that your camper and your family is a part of it.

Our day was full. We started with cinnamon oatmeal, cinnamon rolls (wonder if we had a lot of cinnamon left over?), a yummy egg and sausage casserole, and then headed to Rise n Shine in the Rec Lodge. After some rousing camp songs, including Little Cabin in the Woods (which is probably how I’ll die at age 89 when the veins in my neck pop from leading Little Cabin outside my vocal range) and the Princess Pat, we watched the gymnastics, dance, vaulting and puppetry classes perform. A marathon Lost and Found session followed…and then some time to pack before Choice Period.

Lunch was homemade pizza and salad. Pepperoni and cheese varieties were most popular with campers and hot wing and veggie with the counselors. After rest hour, there was additional packing time and then cabin plaques…where everyone in the cabin gets to leave her mark on Illahee to commemorate her session here. Our JC’s hosted final banquet and the theme was barefoot and blue jeans, and in my nod to their genius, it is the first time I can remember any group choosing a picnic for final banquet…it was yummy and fun! Pulled pork barbecue (hand -pulled in the kitchen), hand-shucked fresh corn on the cob, baked beans, slaw and chips.

Our final banquet takes place at what we call Dohivi Noche…(which means final night). The campfire is framed by the symbol of light with readings, singing, presentations of JC Bibles, and of two ten-year gold Illahee signet rings ¬†and the procession to the canoe lake afterwards where wishboats are floated. It is a fitting end to a terrific two-weeks. We hope that your girls will join us again next summer, and that their year will be bolstered by warm memories of their time in the Heavenly.

2 responses to “A Final Night to Say Goodbye to Good Friends…

  1. Your blogs are beautifully written. After attending Keystone Camp for 7 years I know what this ceremony means and you have stated it perfectly. Thank you for taking the time to write. I treasure it.

  2. Tonight’s blog brought tears to my eyes and I can’t wait to see Lily and Piper next week and have them give their grandparents the “full scoop”. Thank you for taking so much of your time at the end of busy days to share with us these marvelous camp happenings in the “Heavenly”. Obviously, God’s blessing is on this camp.

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