Collective Effervescence

Greetings from Hilltop. I rarely link to outside articles in this blog, but a camp mom sent me one today from today’s New York Times that’s too good not to pass on. In it, the author talks about collective effervescence. You should read it for yourself, but my version of it is that when we feel feelings together, they’re more powerful than if we just felt the same feeling on our own. It’s the reason why so many people love to sing in a chorus, run in a race, or go to a concert. When we’re part of a group experiencing something together, it doesn’t just add. It multiplies.

The other day, we had Burger Bar. We thought we had everything dialed in to project the movie onto a screen outdoors in the 8 PM light, but it just wasn’t working the way it had in the practice run. We needed the sun to set a bit more, and the only thing for that is time. With all the campers sitting on the Helm lawn ready to watch a movie, the only screen time any of them have had in two and half weeks, that’s no fun. Except, it was. A counselor had the bright idea to turn on Folk Dance music. Folk Dance is a well-loved Evening Activity in which we do goofy line dances dressed up in crazy costumes. It’s good clean fun. Suddenly, on the Helm Lawn, there were well over a hundred campers and staff doing silly line dances, killing time, and having fun while we waited for it to get dark enough to show the movie. And experiencing collective effervescence, of which there has been a dearth for the last 16 months. It was great to see.

Today, of course, is Sunday again. As I wrote last week, the days are long, but the weeks are short, and it feels like 20 minutes ago that I was writing to you on the Fourth. At our staff meeting, I told the staff to be aware that the end of the session would sneak up on them. I can already feel it coming. It’s a bittersweet thing. The last week in camp is often the best. When everyone simultaneously starts to value our time together more because our time is short, the feeling can be magical. Remember, collective effervescence. Still, we’ll be sorry to see them go.

It’s been a great day in Camp so far, with more greatness yet to come. Our second round of Senior Trips departed today. It’s always wonderful to see the seniors departing, full of anticipation about their adventures. We’ll see the flip side in six days when they’ll return proud of their accomplishments, full of inside jokes, and yearning for a shower. Regatta Day is this afternoon, always a favorite. Since the heatwave broke, we’ve just had gorgeous weather, and it’s a wonderful day to be out on the water. Of course, this Evening will be Evening Fire. It’s hard to believe that the next one will be our last of the Session. Sundays are a day for celebration and reflection at Camp. They’re a big part of maintaining the rhythm in a long session, and they’re some of my favorite days.

Thank you, as always, for sharing your children with us. We love having them here. We look forward to sending them home to you in a little over a week, having experienced a huge dose of collective effervescence, something they’ve been so robbed of this year.