Camp sessions are mostly divided into six week increments culminating in a five day home visit. On Thursday night before the boys head home with their parents or caregivers, campers and staff alike get together for “Party Night.”
Except for holidays, our parties are relatively low-key with minimal or no decor but oh-so-yummy food! The cooks make great food all the time, but they really outdo themselves on party nights!
After supper, we spend the rest of the evening singing and talking about what happened during the past session. Each group of boys gets a chance to share what their goals were for the past session and how well they accomplished them as well as the new goals they set for the next six weeks.
Perhaps the highlight of each party night is the time when each group gets to present either a skit or song to the rest of us. Occasionally the skit is just for fun, but most of the time, they are a play on something that has happened during the session. Perhaps on the surface this looks like merely entertainment, but important things are happening through these skits. Storytelling is an ancient art form that has been used to preserve history and to create life connections throughout history. While our skits may not be as elaborate as the Epic of Gilgamesh or told with the same flair as Homer or Aesop, our boys learn to tell their stories with equally vital enthusiasm and enjoyment. In telling (or acting out) a story, we learn to share about things that happen in our lives, we learn to present things in front of a crowd without fear, and we learn to laugh at ourselves in healthy ways.
At our last party night, the supervisors and family workers did the first skit. With all the fabulous snow and ice we’ve been having, there’s been a lot of winter adventure happening around camp. The plastic sleds we use come with the typical manufacturer-trying-to-avoid-lawsuits safety warnings. An exaggerated display of safety information has everyone wondering if they’ll ever get to sled, but in the end, they discover the best times happen when we all just get together with a good attitude and have fun!
A few minutes later the Mountaineers had us all in peals of laughter as they teamed up to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Teamwork always wins!
When the Pioneers got up to share they asked for volunteers, but something seemed a bit staged as they ignored some wildly waving hands and picked some people who didn’t volunteer at all. It all made sense when they sang the song they’d written for the occasion. Apparently there was an unspoken requirement that all volunteers must be wearing beards.
The Woodsmen re-wrote “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt” to fit their sauna trips. Some of the groups love to swim so much they make it a point to do at least one swim every month of the year, even in winter! Sometimes they just do a quick dip, other times they take firewood along and set up a sauna before plunging into the icy water. Either way, we’ll leave it for you to decide if this is swimming love or swimming for the love of saying you did it!
This party night was extra special because we also had a graduation! Much as we love these boys, our ultimate goal is to see them be able to go home to live with their families again. It is so exciting to see the change that happens in a boy while he is here and to celebrate with him as he leaves and returns home!
And that’s party night! A time to evaluate and reflect and a time to look ahead. A time to laugh and enjoy good memories and a time to celebrate and think about how we can make good memories in the days to come.