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Final night at an American summer camp

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The sun has set. The temperature is dropping. The campers are silent. We walk together, in darkness, down to the lake united by the Kenwood spirit.

It’s the last night of camp. For some younger campers, the end is only temporary until next year; but for my bunk, the eldest, this is our last silent pilgrimage down to the lake. As you can imagine, many eyes are filled with tears. Many of the kids have returned to this camp year after year and see it as their summer home. Even though I have only been here for four weeks and my experience is different as a counsellor, I share some of their sadness that is is all coming to an end. Being at camp is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

Soon enough the lake comes into view. It’s still and calm – unlike during the day when it’s filled with campers canoeing, swimming, paddle boarding, water-skiing or sailing. At the shoreline, we are instructed to take a candle and write a memory onto it.

So many memories: good and bad. I remind myself of the time the bunk created the Jason Derulo go-kart, learning songs at campfires, riding many roller coasters at Six Nations, playing capture the flag at Camplified, the millions of s’mores made at Pioneering, the massive rope burn during Colour War (as well as the breakout for Colour War), DJ Fresh (for which there are no words…) and of course endless singing! Finally, I decide on a favourite memory.

Carefully overlapping my candle’s base with fellow campers and counsellors, we push our lit candles out onto the lake. Arm in arm we watch them drift.

Afterwards, to signify the end of the summer 2015 at camp, the numbers 2-0-1-5 are burnt. Campers, counsellors and staff gather around singing camp songs – old and new. The air is saturated with sadness as it is the end of camp for another year.

Bunk by bunk the campers start to make their way back to the cabins. There’s a long night still to go; tradition for the last night of camp dictates that the campers stay up for the whole night. The younger bunks try to but they soon fall asleep. It’s only the eldest, with the knowledge that this is their last ever night at camp, who manage to stay awake.

It is a long night filled with games, stories and lots of sweets. And it ends with one final walk down to the dock on the lake.

Slowly, the sun starts to appear from behind the hills surrounding Lake Spectacle. Steam is still evaporating off the lake, the light is creeping through and there is silence (a rarity!!). As we all sit there, feet dipped into the water, arms draped around each other we reflect on a truly magical four weeks at Camp Kenwood.

I change my mind – this is my favourite memory of camp and will stay with me forever.

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