Tag Archives: ritual

Summer camp rituals

Background: The informant (A) is my roommate. She a college student and recalls a story of her experience at a sleep-away summer camp when she was younger.

A: When I was probably….I think 7th grade? Or like during the summer after 7th grade, or maybe 8th or something. I’m not sure. But basically I went to this summer camp at a college in New York for like….2 weeks I think. And the camp leaders made us do a lot of like…..these ritual or traditional kind of activities…I mean, I thought they were pretty weird but a lot of the kids were actually really into it ’cause they had gone to the same camp before and they literally were just…..so into it. I don’t remember a lot of the specific actual stuff we did but the one at the end was called Passionfruit, I only remember that because we drank actual passionfruit juice at it. Or at least they said it was passionfruit juice. But …basically it was the last day of camp for everyone and everyone would wake up super early and the counselors would bring us out to see the sunrise. I think me and my camp friends did a sleepover or something and we set alarms for literally 4:30am and I was so tired but everyone went out onto this grass field kind of thing…it was just outside and we sat on blankets and stuff. I don’t remember exactly the stuff we did but I know we just sat there for a really long time until the sun was up and then we all gathered in this giant circle and people would talk about their favorite memories of camp, or how camp had changed them, or…..something like that, I don’t really know. But it got so emotional I remember being kind of weirded….like half the people were breaking down into tears and stuff. I mean like I was kinda sad but I wasn’t that sad….but I think to be like…nice..or fit in or something I tried to seem super sad too.

Context: This was told to me during a recorded in-person interview.

Analysis: The informant recalls her experience at a summer camp where campers and counselors took camp traditions very seriously. Specifically during the goodbye ceremony, she observed many of her peers in extremely emotional states. This is an example of folklore created by a common experience or location rather than backgrounds or ethnocultural identity. Campers who had experienced the traditions multiple times felt very attached to them while my roommate, who was witnessing them for the first time, felt confused and surprised at her peers’ dedication to these camp rituals. People who have experienced the camp and understand its lore can be considered the “in group” while people who have not can be considered the “out group”.