Residence: Los Angeles
Date of Performance/Collection: 4/29/14
Primary Language: English
Alaina is a sophomore studying Biomedical Engineering at the University of Southern California. She is originally from Washington, a small town about an hour away from Seattle. She has been a camp counselor for many years, and for many different age groups.
Osprey Camp is a small independent camp in Washington. It is an educational camp that is meant for sixth graders, and it is a camp Alaina went to when she was in sixth grade. She has been a counselor for it for a few years noe. One thing she mentioned the campers did was have a friendship circle at the end of every week the students were there. A friendship circle is when the students sit in a circle and talk about the great things the other people did throughout the week. The last week of camp is special though because that was when they received their touch stones. Touch stones are something the couselors make for the campers when they come to the end of camp. It has been a tradition since Alaina has gone to camp there. Touch stones are basically little rocks made of clay that has the thumbprint in it. In the final friendship circle, the kids pass around their touch stones and the kids touch the part that has the print in it. It is a way to say goodbye and keep a memory of the camp.
Alaina was able to actually make the touch stones the second year she was a camp counselor. She remembered enjoying it when she was camp, but seeing the kids react to them was even better than she remembered. She loved seeing the different groups of kids interacting with kids they might not have if they were not at camp. She also enjoyed being able to touch some of the stones of the kids who had been her cabin. For her, it was a way to prove that the barriers could be broken of the kids at this awkward age where changes are occurring with new schools, as well as new friends. Since the campers and counselors were not able to keep in contact after the camp ended, the touch stone was a good reminder of all the people at camp.
This is a perfect example of a ritual and well as a folk object. It has the repition, as well as focuses on a certain culture, which is the campers culture. It is not something people would be doing all the time, and it has a special meaning for the people who have gone through it. It is almost as a right of passage, or a coming of age for the kids. It is a positive way to end a camp and start a lot of new friendships with people they might not have originally been friends with. It gives them that physical stone as well that have after camp ends.
To me, it was a great way to have the piece after the kids left the camp. Having that physical folk object once the ritual was complete is something that the can keep and have fond memories of for the rest of their lives.