As a first-time counselor, I was already worried about passing along camp traditions to the new wave of first-year campers. When I realized that ALL of my hall were first-year campers, that worry became even more present. It had been three years since I was a camper — surely some obscure piece of camp history had fallen through the mental cracks. How could I be sure that I could equip my girls to have the best chance of fitting in with the other campers and to have the most possible fun while they were here?
What I should have realized, though, is that VAMPY campers would never willingly leave anyone out in the cold. On the very first day, I watched camper after camper approach my clump of nervous girls, smiling the signature wide, VAMPY-just-started smile and extending offers of friendship. Bracelet making was taught, card games were started, conversation was sparked, and traditions were explained. At one point, I heard a returning camper lean over to a particularly frightened first-year and say, “See? Camp is a safe place. We all think the same, so we are all friends.” It was such a special moment to realize that these campers, some of whom are bullied and excluded in their everyday life, are so willing to accept newcomers into their hearts and to teach them the camp traditions.