VAMPY Fifth-Years Are Making Up for Lost Time

by Erika Solberg

In 2020, when VAMPY was cancelled because of the pandemic, the campers who were planning to return for their last year of VAMPY were hit the hardest emotionally. This group, called “fourth-years” because it would be their fourth and final year of eligibility for VAMPY, had planned to return as the elder statespeople of camp, the ones who introduced the new campers to all VAMPY has to offer in and out of the classroom. They also would be part of many special traditions specifically for fourth-year students such as making a speech at the end-of-camp banquet and participating in certain group performances at the talent show. Moreover, many of these campers would have been fourth-fourths, meaning it would also be their fourth year of attending camp — they had first come after finishing seventh grade and had not missed a summer. The cancellation of VAMPY was therefore a significant loss for these young people.

Happily, Julia Roberts decided soon after the cancellation of camp that any 2020 fourth-years who wanted to attend in 2021 would be welcome to do so — and welcomed warmly! Six campers were able to come back this year as unprecedented “fifth-years,” and while they may be a bit older than usual, they are embracing the VAMPY experience with 24 months’ worth of stored-up enthusiasm. Four of the six are fifth-fourths — it is their fifth year of eligibility and their fourth year at camp — one is a fifth-third, and one is a fifth-second. We caught up with each of these campers in the first days of VAMPY to see what their experience has been like so far.

Tristan Flueck (facing camera) on the Ultimate Frisbee field.
Tristan Flueck on the Ultimate Frisbee field.

Tristan Flueck of Lexington (Fifth-Fourth)
What made you come back?
Tradition!
Have you taught new campers anything?
I’ve shown a couple of them the ropes. A few were uncertain about some traditions, like hall dinner dates.
What class are you taking and why?

I’m taking Pop Culture. I’ve usually taken STEM-oriented classes, like Problems You Have Never Solved Before and Computer Science, but Pop Culture sounded interesting — it’s going to be hands-on and chill.
What is it like being a fifth-year?
I’m closer to my counselors, partly because I know them — they were at camp my first year.

W.P. Hurt plays Ultimate Frisbee.
W.P. Hurt plays Ultimate Frisbee.

W.P. Hurt of Edmonton (Fifth-Fourth)
What are you looking forward to?
A lot of the VAMPY culture, like Paper Theatre and the talent show.
How are you different than you were two years ago?
I’ve gotten more mature, so I see a better side of people. But I’m one of the shortest on our hall!
What class are you taking and why?
I’m taking Computer Science because I’ve taken a few programming classes, and this one has a couple different scripts, so I’m going to learn some new things.
What is it like being a fifth-year?
It’s nice because you get to see everybody that you thought you wouldn’t see because of COVID. Also, having a year away from VAMPY gave me insight on how good it really is. It’s a lot more important than you think!

Roman Tate (right) watches out for Dushant Lohano of Louisville
Roman Tate (right) watches out for Dushant Lohano of Louisville

Roman Tate of Louisville (Third-Fourth)
What made you come back?
It’s such a tight-knit group. Why wouldn’t you want to come back and see all these great people again?
What are you taking?
I’m taking Problems You Never Solved Before.
What are you looking forward to?
The VAMPY culture, like Paper Theatre. It’s great.
How are the first few days going
?
I’m waiting to hit the wall that most people feel on the fourth day or so when you’re trying to get back into the groove, but you get super tired — I’m almost at the wall — I can feel it! Then, once you pass that stage, you start having all the fun in the world and you never want to leave.

Gillian Jamison smiles
Gillian Jamison is ready for VAMPY

Gillian Jamison of Bowling Green (Fifth-Second)
What made you come back?
I really enjoyed it last time, and this would be my last chance to come.
What did you take in 2019, and what are you taking this year
?
Last time I took Revolutions, and this time I’m taking Ancient Civilizations.
Both of those course are taught by Jan Lanham. Why do you like learning from her?
We do a lot of really cool stuff and a lot of activities.
What did you do in Revolutions that you particularly enjoyed, and what have you done in Ancient Civilizations so far?

We had a lot of debates in Revolutions — I like seeing issues from multiple sides. In this class so far we have made Greek chitons, and right now we are studying Greek plays by making masks and acting. We also are reading a lot and have class discussions.
What would you say to someone who’s thinking about coming to VAMPY?

I think it’s a great opportunity!

Sydney Schulten of Fayetteville, GA (Fifth-Fourth), and Cathleen Smalley of College Grove, TN (Fifth-Fourth)
What made you come back?
Cathleen:
I was really upset when they canceled VAMPY last year. I’d been looking forward to getting to do all the fourth-year stuff. When I was told I could come back this year, I thought, “Of course I’ll come back! I’ll hang out with some of my friends, take a good class, and get back into learning.” VAMPY helps me enjoy learning more so than school does because I’m always stressed out at school, whereas here you relax and have fun.
Sydney:
VAMPY has always been a family to me, and people I’ve met here are going to be lifelong friends. Last year when we couldn’t go, I sat in a car with two of my friends and cried for two hours. The idea of not completing the journey felt wrong. Then I found out I could come this year, and I was like, “Yay!”

Sydney Schulten in Writing class.
Sydney Schulten in Writing class.

What class are you taking and why?
Cathleen:
We’re both taking Writing. Sydney said she wanted to take it, and I thought it sounded like fun, and we could hang out together. Plus it’s a lot shorter of a walk than I’m used to — because I’ve always taken science classes up on the hill.
Sydney:
I’m not a big fan of writing; I’m a math and science person. So I wanted something out of my comfort zone, and I knew I could explore at VAMPY. If I do any writing outside of VAMPY, there’s pressure, but here, there’s no pressure.

How are the first few days going?
Cathleen: At first it felt weird, but like a good weird. There are so many first-years, so we get to teach them traditions and the different card games and stuff that are common at VAMPY.
Sydney: Our Writing class has gotten close.
Cathleen: We’re so close! We’re such good friends that it feels like we’re towards the end of the third week, but it’s only day three. So that’s awesome.

Have you done any favorite Optionals yet?
Cathleen:
We did SCATS: The Musical. We watched “The Rum-Tum-Tugger” from Cats, the stage version and the movie version, and voted on which one was better.
Sydney:
It’s obviously the stage version.
Cathleen: It’s not even close.

Cathleen Smalley and XX share a laugh in class.
Cathleen Smalley and Kay McFarland of Cave City share a laugh in class.

What are you looking forward to?
Cathleen:
Seeing my friends. We don’t live near each other at all.
Sydney:
I get to be part of Boogaloo [at the talent show]. And I really want to be an Angel of the Darkness [at the talent show].
Cathleen:
I’m excited for the Olympics, VAMPY-Con, the Hot Rods game …
Sydney:
… the fourth-year circle dance …
Cathleen:
That’s where all the fourth-years get together in a circle at the dance on the last night and then just sob. That’ll be fun.

You’re looking forward to crying?
Sydney:
Yeah. You do that a lot here.
Cathleen:
Every year.

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