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Songs of Tradition This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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Sitting cross-legged on my bed, the frigid December
air pounding at my window pane, I open my alma mater book. A storm of dried specks of red and white wax parade down on me, and with it comes a nostalgic rush of the first time I opened this book and sang these words. The lyrics transported me – and still do – to another world, one where I am part of traditions that carry through the ­generations.

I am taken back to the end of last summer, the familiar scent of freshly cut grass and SPF 30 enveloping my senses. It's the last night of camp. The brisk evening air kisses my cheeks as I hug my sweatshirt around my body, grasping at its warmth. The feeling of summer's end touches my fingertips, a perception my heart has grown ­familiar with during these nine years.

Traditionally, on this night, the Lodge girls serenade the camp with antiquated alma maters as the sun goes down on Shadow Lake for the last time. In previous years I had been one of those campers watching the older girls singing the words of leaders' past, harmonizing a meaning of camp I had not yet come to grasp. Now it was my turn. The lyrics of countless alma maters written over the years played in my head, preparing me for my chance to impart the beauty of Wah-Nee to younger campers.

“Looked up at you, watching your every move and followed your steps to where it is I stand now.”

The tune from a past alma mater played in my head as my division assembled in the Lodge living room like a band of soldiers, gathering our newly bound alma mater books in preparation for the moment we had been anticipating since we began attending this camp.

“Wah-Nee, you have led me as I've grown, I found a home that exists in me; destiny, carry on this dream, this legacy.”

We begin to sing, red and white candles illuminating the pages as we carry on the legacy of past generations. A bridge is drawn between the past and present as we enter a parallel universe, one marked by tradition rather than this moment. My book is the key, opening the door to this world. Antiquated words that have withstood the test of time escape my lips like sand between fingers, carrying a melody that brings tears to the eyes of everyone.

“Red and white to fight for, tradition never dies, friendships that have stood the test of time.”

I look around and notice our collective guard has been let down. Tears flow freely down each face, mine blurring my vision until all I can see is a sea of red and white – the painted rocks outlining the dirt path, the droplets of red and white candle wax bleeding down onto my alma mater book, locking in the meaning of each page. Words that have been preserved since 1986 swim through my head, my entire body seemingly filled with a tide of red and white.

It is now that I realize the true purpose of singing these verses. More than just creating a lovely tune, we Lodge girls are recognizing our admission into the magical world of Wah-Nee, full of special ties and traditions. The evidence is just beneath the wax on the legacy-clad pages.

And on that cold December night I think about how one day maybe I too will have the chance to craft a song that will be sung for years to come, bridging the gap between the past, present, and future Lodge girls. Rubbing the tears from my eyes, I get up, leaving the book open on my bed.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.





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