Camp Crestridge for Girls is somewhere that holds a very special place in my heart. It is a place where I can praise God, spend time with great friends all day and night, and have amazing experiences that only come once a year. I have made so many new friends and hilarious memories there over my previous summer-time visits, but there is one certain moment that I know I will always remember.
It was the last night of camp and our age group (village) had just finished lugging our trunks down the hill so they could be delivered at pickup the next morning. The girls of my cabin, Catawba 25, were yet again in our cabin, playing card games and Harry Potter trivia while dancing to the High School Musical soundtrack. It was getting late, probably near 11:00, but nobody wanted to go to bed. We all wanted to get in our last time with our friends before we said goodbye the next day for a whole year.
Our counselors soon warned us that we would be doing devotions in 10 minutes and then it was time for lights out. We all frowned at each other. For the last night of camp, this was an early bedtime. In all my previous years, we probably didn't go to bed on the last night until at least past midnight, so something seemed a little strange. After devotions, we all brushed our teeth, washed our faces, and got showered in the usual chaotic manner, seeing as there are only two showers and two sinks in the cabin, limited hot water, and 10 teenage girls, who had been running around all day, impatiently waiting to clean the dirt and grime off themselves.
When we were finally clean and in our bunks, the girls and I continued our usual night time antics as we whispered to friends in bunks underneath and across the room. We gained an occasional “Hush!” From our counsellors, who were being unusually quiet. This was strange because my counsellors Kaite and Annie were usually fun and energetic, but now they seemed like they were hiding something. Soon enough the heavy sleepers had fallen asleep, and the other half of the girls were just about ready to. I lay in my top bunk, my eyelids finally getting heavy and beginning to shut when all of a sudden, the lights were immediately flicked on
“Girls, its time.” Annie said attempting a solemn look, but I could tell she was stifling a laugh.
Some girls immediately sat up in bed with messy hair and confused faces while others still struggled to wake up. We got out of our bunks groggily as Kaite directed us through the door and handed us candles, not even bothering to take a headcount. Standing on the porch of our cabin while trying not to wake others up, we formed a circle and passed around the light to each candle. When all of our candles were lit we began practically dragging ourselves down the hill in a single file line behind Kaite with Annie in the back, making sure we didn’t lose any sleepy campers on the way down. As we trotted down the hill, my friends and I exchanged questioning glances and whispered questions to each other like “What is going on?” or “Where are we headed?” When we were nearing the chapel, Kaite held up her hand, and we came to a halt. She began humming the camp song. We laughed, and she motioned for us to join in on the humming.
We entered through the back door of the chapel and made our way through, still humming and following Kaite who weaved us through every single pew in the open-air structure. We filed out through the front door and walked down the hill, past the dining hall and four square courts and over to the lake, where on the T-dock I could see a single person with flashlight shone upon her face, a backpack on her back and something else in her hand. We all walked onto the dock in a single file line, and I could feel it rocking and floating on the water beneath my feet. Soon the person on the dock came into view and I saw that it was our Village Director, Amanda. The girls and I all hugged her and said hi. We saw that in her hand she was holding a flat bed of sticks tied together with some twine.
At last, Kaite finally spoke.
“We are gathered here tonight,” she half-giggled half-spoke “to bestow upon you your sacred Indian names”
We laughed as she handed us all envelopes with our “Indians Names” on them. Mine read “Mindful Seal,” one of my friend’s said “Spunky Goose” and so on. I laughed because my “name” actually described me pretty well. When Kaite was done handing out our envelope’s, one still remained in her hand. She furrowed her eyebrows, looking confused. She did a head count, and frowned. She did a headcount again.
“Oh no!” Kaite exclaimed. “Where’s Delaney?” Delaney was one of the girls in my cabin, who was apparently still in bed sleeping while we were all down at the lake. Kaite sprinted off the dock and we watched her round the corner and run through the trees, yelling Delaney’s name all the way up the hill, not even caring if she woke anybody up. We could hear her from halfway across the camp. My friends and I stood on the dock laughing until Kaite came running back with an exhausted looking Delaney.
Kaite then handed Delaney her envelope, and directed us all to sit indian-style in a circle on the dock. We all pulled the letters out of our envelopes and read them to ourselves. They were letters from Kaite and Annie telling us how much they enjoyed getting to know and help us grow our relationships in Christ over the two weeks. When we finished reading the letters and all was said and done, Annie pulled a box of matches out of her backpack. Amanda set the little boat made of sticks in the water and Annie lit the twine on fire. Then, they pushed it off into the lake.
Although a bit dramatic, it was really beautiful. The scene of the flaming boat floating off on the lake toward the big floating wooden cross in the middle, and the campfire area in the background. We stayed and talked until the flame on the boat had died, and being the overly-emotional teenage girls that we are, we cried. We cried because we wouldn’t see each other for another year, or maybe even ever again, but we had all grown so close and practically become best friends in just two weeks. This had been my fourth Summer going to Crestridge, but it was, by far, my favorite one yet.