As a camper for nine summers, a C.I.T. for one summer, and now as a counselor, I had the privilege of taking on the job that once gave my parents and friends a window into my favorite place in the entire world. Instead of putting on sunscreen and my bathing suit this morning, I laced up my running shoes and grabbed a camera from Merri-Mac’s tech office while brainstorming ideas of how I would try to create that window for our camper’s parents.
At breakfast, we enjoyed egg casserole and blueberry coffee cake. Then afterwards, the Sunnyside campers led us in singing classic camps songs for the last time, as the majority of them will leave on Friday. I darted around the tables trying to take pictures of campers singing “Boom Boom Ain’t it Great to be Crazy”, “He Sat Down Beside Her”, and “Hip-Hooray.” During Hip-Hooray, all of the campers parade around the dining hall while the staff sing the song until everyone returns back to their tables.
We then headed up past the lake to chapel. Once again, I observed as all the campers worshipped and reflected together one last time. Counselors Maddy and Sydney played the guitar and ukulele, and a few Sunnysiders helped lead the worship. I watched as my eight and nine year old campers—most of whom knew none of Merri-Mac traditions—sung the camp hymn with their arms around each other. After singing, counselor Miranda shared how humanity’s broken relationship with God and the world is healed through Jesus.
After chapel, all the campers ran off to their tribe meetings, hang out with their cabinmates, and get ready for their last day of activities. I started at the bottom of the hill sprinting from class to class trying to take as many pictures as possible of girls with their new and old friends—participating in their activities with newly gained skills and knowledge. I had so much excitement seeing some of my own campers engage in activities with much more ease and joy than they did a week or two ago. Volleyball and Lacrosse were both even able to scrimmage. Campers in Pottery and Knitting finished up their final projects. In Do It Yourself Crafts, everyone made a special Merri-Mac jewelry holder. In our puppy training class, they had play time with the puppies and then took the dogs on a walk around camp. Girls in Climbing met at the camp’s new Upper Tower, practiced top roping and bouldering. Some girls were even able to rappel. Anna W. and Mariah H. both received their silvers in guitar. As a kayaking instructor who spends all day at the lake, it was so much fun to watch so many campers show off their other new skills around camp.
Other classes took the opportunity to let campers have a little more freedom and leisure in their last class. Gymnastics had a trampoline and game day. Girls in Swimming and Diving class were able to enjoy the blob and free-swim. At the end of lacrosse, they practiced passing and cradling with water balloons. Cooking class prepared monkey bread and Quiche. I think it’s safe to say that all classes ended on a very high note.
Morning classes were followed by a camp favorite meal of mini corndogs and macoroni. The tribal leaders led their tribes in cheers for one of the last times. As a formal tribal leader, I was immensely proud of how well the leaders this session helped teach the new campers the traditions of camp and all the songs. Every tribe was filled with an immense amount of excitement and joy indicating their love for their tribe and the sisterhood we share here.
During dinner, I was struck with a similar feeling of pride. Each cabin sang their own cabin song with smiles and laughter. Then, the entire camp sang happy birthday to Gabby M. for her 12th birthday. The cabin cakes were announced with the winners of each division being Tweedle Doe, Sundrop, and Little Dipper.
After dinner, the entire camp headed up to White Feather and Final Campfire to help celebrate some of our campers’ specific growth and achievements, and also to reflect on our wonderful time at camp this summer. White Feather helps us commemorate the accomplishments of our girls’ in our activities, time at camp, and leadership in the cabin and among their friends. Girls can earn marks through counselor and camper commendations, years at camp, earning Bronze, Silver, and Gold bars in activities, and by doing certain elective activities around camp.
We recognized many girls for earning bronze bars this summer. The following girls received silver bars: Maddie M. in Backpacking, Jordan W. in Basketball, Nicole C., Ellie M., Mary Katherine W., and Anna R. in Chorus, Nora V. in Competitive Swimming, Alex H. in Drama, Mary Catherine C. and Sydney B. in Fencing, Anna W. and Mariah H. in Guitar, Grace H. in Gymnastics, Jocelyn L. in Riding, Chelsea B. in Rifelry, Jordan W. in Swimming, Gabrielle G. in Tennis, and Nicole F. in Volleyball.
Cara H. received her Gold in Gymnastics. Nicole F. received her Gold in Lacrosse. Ellie H. was also recognized for her Gold in Swimming. Isabella B. and Claire S. earned their Gold in Swimming. Finally, Isabella B. also received her Gold in Volleyball.
These girls received counselor commendations: Madelyn L., Josie B., Knowlton W., Virginia C., Claire F., Grace H., Leighton L., Camille B., Margaret H., Sarah Caulley S., Ava R., Annie V., Ally G., Bella L., Katie B., Grayson L., Hannah H., Kelly T., Avery B., Alexa L., Liza F., Sarah S., Sarah G., Ellie M., Madelyn J., Caroline L., Elizabeth B., Elizabeth J., Sarah English C., Mallorie D., Ava F., Kylie F., Mary Catherine C., Ella M., Uma Z., Emerson E., Grace C., Chesley Y., Claudia L., Maddie M., and Chloe R.
These campers received camper commendations: Georgia W., Eloise T., Eliza D., Louise V., Ferrel W., Ella Grace W., Elena C., Lillian L., Callie T., Hayley F., Claire R., Carly L., Camryn L., Ellie H., Lucy D., Tory S., Annie V., Kate A., Grayson L., Kathryn U., Eleanor W., Gabby M., Clare R., Alexa L., Mallory E., CiCi C., Natalie C., Grace C., Sarah G., Ellie M., Olivia B., Caroline A., Anna W., Nicole F., Martah Kendall C., Merrill L., Sydney B., Alex H., Kimberly C., Phoebe F., Avery F., Kate H., Christina V., Anna M., Caroline L., and Reily B.
These girls completed one of the Whitefeather system’s electives: Lucy D., Mary Emily M., Jordan W., Emma E., Kathryn U., Avery B., Carson L., Gia V., Natalie C., Caroline A., Olivia B., Isabella B., Sarah English C., Lindsay F., Elizabeth J., Faith L., Sarah. J., Norah V., Isabella B., Claire S., Christine T., Caroline A., and Maddie M.
These girls all completed two electives: Sydney B. and Mary Catherine C.
The following girls all received necklaces for earning marks this past week.
Camille D., Carly G., Kiera L., Audrey P., Ava R., Emily R., Frances S., Mary Elizabeth S., Eliza T., Madeline M., Uma Z., Lauren A., Josie B., Maya Grace C., Georgia W., Madelyn L., Eloise T., Sailor V., Meredith W., Virginia C., Claire F., Lainey J., Whitney S., Stephanie S., Lillian L., Leighton L., Lynley T., Courtney W., and Eliza F.
These girls received promotions to the rank of Groundhog: Eliza D., Louise V., Knowlton W., Izora G., Ella Grace W., and Grace H.
In intermediate camp these girls earned promotions to the rank of Arrow: Mallory E. Clare R., Emma E., Kathryn U., Mary F., Martha P., Mary Katherine W., Alexa L., Sarah S., Hannah H., Grace C., Kate A., and Claire R.
These girls earned the rank of Crazy Creek: Chelsea Y., Lucy D., Tory S., Kimberly C., and Jordan W.
These girls earned the rank of Running Deer: Caroline A., Olivia B., Nicole C., Mattie C., Lindsay F., Nicole F., Cara H., Faith L., Sarah T., and Anna W.
These girls earned the rank of Red Tail: Claire S., Sarah English C., Nora V., Mary Catherine C., and Reily B.
Finally, Mary Catherine C. earned the last rank before White Feather which is Junior Feather.
After Final Campfire and White Feather, the girls lined up by tribe and processed down to the lake for our traditional Lakeside ceremony. One brave from each tribe swam out to the Fire Dock with a torch—lighting the bonfire on the dock. The chiefs canoed out with a bigger torch, lit their torches together, and brought the fire back to their tribes. The girls all lit their candles from this fire and placed their candles in the lake.
As I attempt to give you all a glimpse at how special Merri-Mac is, please know that all the counselors and other staff are proud of the growth that we have seen in all our campers this summer. We hope we see everyone back at Merri-Mac for many more summers to come. Safe travels to everyone coming to camp tomorrow for closing ceremonies…
“This is goodnight and not goodbye….”
Mary Grace Budd
Milky Way Counselor