Camp Cheley Traditions

Every night before we go to bed, we have a friendship circle.

Everyone in the unit stands together in the courtyard and we all hook arms or just put our arms on each other’s shoulders Wait, no. Wait, yeah. I guess different units do different things but that’s what we did.

When you’re done singing, we say goodnight and all bow and leave the circle.

So one of the songs is called, I See the Moon. And when you come to camp you kind of just hear what everyone else is singing and you learn it, they don’t write it down or teach you or anything.

And it goes like this (sings):

I see the moon and the moon sees me

The moon sees somebody I’d like to see

So God bless the moon & God bless me

and God bless the somebody I’d like to see.

And then we whisper the peoples’ names we’d like to say goodnight to. So like “Goodnight, Mom.” “Goodnight, Dad.”

Camp Cheley is not a religious camp but the owners are religious. I went back for six summers and even going to camp usually stays within generations, too. Like my best friend is from camp, you know Abby.

She’s what we call a “cheleybaby” because her parents met at Camp. We call those “chomances” you know ‘cus “Cheley” and “romances”.

context of the performance:

The informant told about this ritual and sang that moon song to a table of friends, including myself, at Monday night dinner.

thoughts on the performance:

It was clear from the informant’s delivery how second nature all of this seemed to her from her repeat camp experiences. She even sort of swayed along when she sang the song, without a hint of embarrassment.