The Big Dipper, My Little Pony, and the Void: VAMPY Week One

by Erika Solberg

Bailey Chafin watches the stars.

On Monday at lunch, the mood was upbeat in the VAMPY community — the first weekend had solidified new friendships, and the VAMPY Olympics and Paper Theatre had brought the whole camp together. We checked in with some campers and counselors to hear their thoughts on the first week of camp.

The most popular topic was the VAMPY Olympics:

The Void took home the gold in VAMPY Olympics.

Abby Adams-Smith: The Olympics went really well. I was part of the Void, the team that won. I did trivia, and we got second place — I answered a question on My Little Pony. For side events, I did suicides, push-ups, and a pacer test. I did not do well, but I’m glad I at least got the exercise, especially since I have cross country coming up after camp!

Harrison Gover: The Olympics was definitely fun. I did the wall sits. I only did it for about four minutes, but someone in my hall did it for twenty.

Alex Minter: The best part of VAMPY so far was being second place at the Olympics as Andorra.

Eli Neitz: I was on the trivia team for the USA. We lost by one point, but on one of the answers, I was the only one who knew it — it was the book When You Reach Me. A lot of people wore costumes — we had two U.S. flags that people wore like capes, and some people had face paint and hair dye. I had a bead necklace.

Avery Wagner: I was on Andorra. We played around with the name and said we were P-Andorra, so our chant was about how bad Apple Music is. I competed in musical chairs and some side events, like A Gentleman’s Quarrel, where we dueled with pool noodles. Ari Chen and I did really well for our team — we got three out of the 10 points available. I think everybody likes the Olympics because there’s something for everyone to do.

Chalk art supporting Albania.

Dylan Edwards: I did the relay. You start off with somebody spinning around a baseball bat 10 times. Then you run and tag the next person, who has to eat a donut hanging from a string and then run and tag the third person, who has to do a word search to find the name of the male counselor. Then you tag the fourth person, who has to carry a water balloon in between their legs to the final person, who has to run across the field and hit head counselors Molly Rush or Tori Edwards with a water balloon. I did the word search — I did it really fast. I do cross country and track and field, so I had trained.

Counselor Myles Maxon: My and Emily Leamon’s team won the Olympics. We were playing as the Void, the largest country with the least land. We were in the same groups for the SCATS Olympics. At SCATS we got five points, but at VAMPY we got 86.5, so it was a dramatic turnaround from our previous performance. The Void members wore dark clothes, black and purple. Our best cheer was, “Scream into the void” — and then everyone would scream. We also co-opted some pirate shanties, which I’m not sure lines up thematically, but the kids were really into it.

Chalk art supporting Brazil.

Counselor Sydney Wheeler: The weekend was chaotic, but very fun! My team tied for second in the Olympics. I was on Andorra, which is a principality between France and Spain with a population of 77,000 people — I did not know that before I came here, so thank you, [counselor] Owen Harkins. We tied for second place with Brazil. We were second-to-last at SCATS, so our team also had quite a turnaround.

Sammy McDonald: The best part so far was winning the Olympics as the Void. Woohoo!

When asked, seven members of the Albania team sang the team song:
Albania, Albania,
You border on the Adriatic.
Your terrain is mostly mountainous,
And your chief export is chrome.

(If you would like to know the source of this song, which was recognizable to a listener of a certain age who watched a certain 1980s sitcom, go to Youtube.)


Campers and counselor had a range of other VAMPY highlights:

Selenah Travis: The most memorable thing from my first week was getting to see my best friend, Evy Yates, experience VAMPY because she’s a first year.

Eli Neitz: I didn’t expect VAMPY to be as fun as it is — I expected it to be mostly learning. I’m taking Computer Science. I didn’t know any coding before, so I’ve learned a lot. My favorite Optional has been General Enthusiasm — we went around to the other Optionals and cheered them on.

Counselor Jack Eason: It’s interesting to see how the camp is different being a counselor versus being a camper. It’s a special opportunity to get to create for my kids the experience that meant so much to me.

Counselor Eric Maddigan: Seeing the amount of preparation that goes into activities like Optionals and the Olympics gives me more appreciation for when I was a camper — understanding how much effort and how much time the counselors put in.

Vivienne Lucier: I’m taking Astronomy. I have been stargazing a couple of times with my family, but I’d never seen an actual constellation — my parents would say, “Hey, look, it’s the Big Dipper,” and I would think I’d seen it, but I hadn’t. Now that we’ve studied constellations, I can go out at night after study hall and recognize the Big Dipper, Polaris, and the Little Dipper. Stargazing on Tuesday was really fun because with the telescopes that we built, I was able to spot Jupiter and see its five moons.

Jordan Cathey: One of the best parts of the first week was that I met my friends Vivienne Lucier, Bella Galavotti, and Ally Ormsby. I also liked starting class, Problems You Have Never Solved Before. The experiments are really fun and different, and you have to think outside of the box. Over the weekend, I liked Paper Theatre. We did Three Little Pigs, reality show style. I was a house, so I wrote “brick house” on some newspaper and taped it to myself. Paper Theatre’s fun because you get to come together with your peers and create a different type of story that people can relate to.

Bella Galavotti: Regular school is very cut and dry: “I’m going to tell you a bunch of stuff, and you’re going to have to recite it on a test and then never use it later.” VAMPY teaches you a lot of life skills because you’re living on your own, and the classes are hands-on — the learning is what you get from what you’re learning. It’s not, “Here’s a bunch of information” — it’s more like, “Okay, discover information on your own.” And I really enjoy that — it’s one of the reasons I came to VAMPY.

Campers may be on to something in the Conspiracy Theory Optional.
The Optional Conspiracy Theory produced some intriguing ideas.