When I'm visiting a future camper in his or her home one of the questions they almost always ask is "do you guys do anything fun for the 4th of July?" After I finish describing what we do to celebrate the holiday most simply respond with one word: Wow. Today was absolutely a "wow" kind of a day.
We woke up to yet another beautiful, sunny NH morning. Lots of campers and counselors arrived at assembly wearing their most patriotic gear. So did the Leadership Team. After singing happy birthday to our friends Maddy and Sylvie, 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 their 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.
After a morning of regular activities the entire Camp community came together for its first picnic lunch of the summer. Our chefs made the kids delicious homemade pizza and lots of different types of salads to enjoy on this gorgeous July day. Everyone seemed so happy to be able to sit outside and eat with their friends.
In the evening we had our annual 4th of July BBQ. Chef Charles and his team put out quite a spread, including hamburgers, hot dogs, BBQ smoked ribs, boneless BBQ chicken pasta salad, fresh watermelon, locally grown steamed green beans, a variety of green salads, and veggie burgers. 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.
Many thanks and a big "Cha-Hee-Cha-Haw" to our fabulous Kitchen Team for making such a delicious and memorable event for all of us!
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. Enid, one of our talented kitchen staff from Mexico, was also a huge part of making all of this happen, and we send our thanks to both them!
Right after dinner we had a special treat. A young camper named Spencer reached out to me long before Camp asking if he could make and launch a model rocket as part of our 4th of July festivities. Ceramics Andy, our resident rocket expert, was on hand to help him get it launch-ready. I made an announcement over the PA inviting anyone interested to come watch, and about 100 campers and counselors came to support their friend.
Liftoff was a huge success, and the crowd roared with applause. I love how our Camp culture produces moments like this. A camper wanted to celebrate a special occasion, felt empowered to ask if he could do something unique that showed off his skills, and his peers and counselors rallied to support him. You should have seen the smile on his face.
Actually, you can by clicking on the link below.
And then came the big event of the day. I've tried in the past to describe the scene when Nancy Tucker performs at our summer camp but never quite captured it. It certainly reminds me of when the Beatles played at Shea Stadium. Here's a quick clip of what it was like before she even stepped on stage.
How lucky to have an annual event to love this much!
For over 30 summers her concerts have been a part of our 4th of July traditions, and with each year the adulation from her fans grows deeper. Our entire community screams and cheers from the moment they enter the theater and the enthusiasm doesn't stop until her concert has concluded. Campers of all ages make signs and even print up t-shirts celebrating her concert. This year counselors wrote her name on their bodies in paint and then covered themselves in glitter. In the hours leading up to her show Camp Big Brothers and Sisters were at Arts & Crafts working with their younger camp siblings to make signs celebrating her.
Throughout the show every single camper and counselor was singing along at the top of their lungs while most also had their arms around each other in a mixture of celebration and solidarity. Our Senior Boys and their counselors formed a conga line with circles of Evergreen friends held hands and danced together. Later on our entire group of 15 year old campers leapt on stage to join her in a sing-a-long. When she busted out a classic Oasis song our entire staff from the UK stood up on a raised platform in our theater and danced and cheered at the top of their lungs. Moments like -- of losing yourself in a moment of pure, unselfconscious joy with the people you are closest with -- this truly defines for me what this community is all about.
After the concert we all made our way to the Field of Dreams, our newest and largest soccer field. Once we were all there Pete, Tex, Hugo and our friend T put on a spectacular fireworks display that had the entire community ooh'ing and ahh'ing. This short clip of the should give you an idea of how great tonight's show was (watch it and then realize this is the opening and not the finale)!
After all of the celebrations of the day, we came together as a community one last time, holding hands in the dark. As one big Camp family we sang "Taps", our traditional end of the day song. Then with arms around each other, our campers and counselors walked back to their bunks for some well deserve sleep.
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 regaling 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.