It’s Big Weekend, a favorite special event at our overnight campJuly 19, 2015
On this 4th Saturday of the summer our brother-sister summer camps slept in. We like to let our campers and counselors recharge their batteries on the weekend, so everyone slept an hour late.
Once reveille blew everyone was quickly out of the bunks. Many campers believed that this morning would be the start of our annual special event called Big Weekend…and they were right!
During morning assembly, after the different departments had checked in, Scott asked “are there any other announcements?” Suddenly a van with blue flashing lights on the roof and a police siren drove up to the assembly area. Junior Unit Leader Caleb Parker, dressed up as a police officer, announced that he had a group with him that were missing their partners and better halves. Out of the van came counselors dressed in amazing, ridiculous, super creative costumes. From around camp their partners arrived, and each duo put on a short skit. There was Sponge Bob and Patrick, Scooby Doo and Shaggy, Sully and Mikey from Monsters, Inc., Timon and Pumba from the Lion King, Thing 1 and Thing 2 and, of course, Woody and Buzz Lightyear. After they had all performed the kids and counselors cheered at the great show that their counselors had put on, and that it was officially the start of Big Weekend!
Anyone can play soccer, but it takes real skill to play it with your leg tied to a friend!
So what exactly IS Big Weekend? In some ways it’s like a miniature version of Color War, with some very important differences. During Big Weekend we divide the camp community up into 6 teams, all based on a theme. And over the course of 2 days campers participate in some traditional, and some creative, sports activities. So at one point today there were boys and girls playing traditional sports like softball, basketball and volleyball, and then later in the day they were laughing it up during events called “Lineup Ball”, “Minefield”, and “Blindfolded Soccer” (don’t worry, we don’t have our kids running with blindfolds on!). The goal of Big Weekend is to bring our two brother-sister overnight camps together for some fun, low-key, age-appropriate play, and to help our boys and girls make quality friendships with the kids in the other camp. There’s a great deal of singing, cheering, and team spirit. And when they are playing our more creative games, it’s a chance for them to work yet again on the 21st Century Skills that we have been focusing on all summer long (skills like collaboration, effective communication, leadership, and creative problem solving). This entire special event is organized by Jacki and Bob Mitchell, our super-creative athletic directors. Many thanks to them for all of the fun and excitement that they bring to our camp community each summer!
So after breakfast everyone went to the unit areas to learn what team they were on, and what color shirt they should wear today and tomorrow. For parents who wondered why the packing list required so many shirts of different colors here is one reason why! After a quick team meeting the campers and staff moved out to their first activities.
Throughout the day our teams began to work on learning the songs that they will be performing in front of the entire camp community tomorrow evening. Each team wrote a song about their many positive attributes, and jokingly poked fun of the others. Starting this afternoon each team also be worked on their formations. Tomorrow night, each team will silently move about the Hollow, forming letters and shapes, attempting to tell a story about their team. Both the song and the formation are incredible opportunities for learning creativity and somewhat less traditional forms of communication.
As is always case here, our campers and staff made this amazing special event all about bringing our brother-sister summer camp community together. There was cheering to and from each event. Veteran campers helped our newest members understand the ins and outs of the Big Weekend schedule, and the strategies for some of the games that they hadn’t played before. And while competition was obviously a part of the weekend, the friendships of the players were always much more important than the wins and losses.
In the afternoon all 6 teams participated in a massive relay race that wound all over the campus. It began with a three-legged run from the assembly area to the Evergreen waterfront, including boating and swimming events at both waterfronts, athlete feats at multiple ballfields and inside the gym, and culminated with a bucket brigade that stretched from the girls’ waterfront to the Evergreen office. It was an incredible afternoon of teamwork and spirit for our very happy campers and counselors.
Another example of the fun and excitement of this amazing special event was tonight’s Rope Burning contest. Each summer Rope Burning is the most exciting part of Big Weekend. The six team’s oldest campers participate in a race to see who can be first to burn a rope suspended 10 feet in the air between a series of metal poles. The entire community gathers up on Senior Hill to watch, and even before the first match is lit campers on all teams are leaping into the air with excitement.
One of the best traditions at Big Weekend Rope Burning is how our campers get themselves psyched up each year. Rather than getting together with their teammates, our Hut 6 boys form a huddle and our Juniper girls do the same. They begin chanting the name of their cabin, and start leaping up and down in excitement. Eventually, both groups reach a fevered pitch, and then break to start the event. This ritual is all about them cherishing the many years that they have spent together, and savoring this moment. Watching it tonight I became a bit wistful about when my camp friends and I had the honor of participating in this ritual so very long ago…
Once they had finished their psych up, Scott brought the whole camp community together. He explained the rules of Rope Burning, and then we began the countdown. The whistle blew and the 6 teams sprang into action. Some teams got their fire lit quicky while others struggled to light their matches. Some fires leapt into the air in under a minute, and their rope burned moments later. One group in particular struggled more than the others, and as each team finished completing their task, they ended their celebration and instead joined in helping their friends. Very quickly every rope burned, and every team walked away feeling a strong sense of accomplishment. It was great stuff.
Campers from all six teams celebrated by jumping up and down and singing in support of their older teammates. What I love about our annual Big Weekend Rope Burning event is that after all of its team spirit and intensity, it immediately reverts back to what our camp community is all about. The participants on each team walked over to hug and congratulate each other on having completed this major rite of passage. Moments later the entire camp was holding hands, standing underneath a starry sky, singing Taps together. Watching our entire overnight camp community come together for a special event like this is one of my favorite moments of every summer.
From start to finish, today was fun and exciting. It’s wonderful to see how easily the members of our brother-sister summer camp community can come together for an amazing special event like Big Weekend.
We can’t wait for tomorrow!
Please note that there will be no new blog tomorrow. Sheila will be posting photos. Thanks!