When we think of Campfire Hill at Lochearn, we think of the serene, reflective space that allows us to look back on our experiences at camp and treasure the memories we make every day. Surrounded by hemlocks and white pines swaying in the wind amongst the breathtaking Vermont scenery, Campfire Hill is often referred to as a “natural wonder.” Past and present campers and staff are connected by the thousands of footsteps that have traveled the path to Campfire Hill, making it one of the most special places at camp.
The evening tradition of S-Day Campfires on Campfire Hill is made up of so many smaller customs unique to Lochearn. On S-Days, we put on our white Lochearn polo, our navy blue shorts and our sash bearing the Royal Stewart Tartan to get ready for dinner. Each of these pieces make up our Blues and Whites, another signifying connection between campers past and present. It is a beautiful sound to hear Robert Burns’ Selkirk Grace sung before dinner on S-Day nights, a sound that Lake Fairlee has heard from Highland Hall each summer for over one hundred years.
After dinner, we all gather on the Point at the bottom of Campfire Hill, patiently waiting to walk alongside our friends and cabinmates up to encircle the stone firepit etched with the Lochearn Thistle. There is a sense of anticipation in the air as we wonder what we will learn about ourselves or about our peers as we gather on top of Campfire Hill this time. As we quietly walk up to Campfire Hill, the mood sets in and we get ready to hear that evening’s S-Day Campfire theme.
Each S-Day Campfire has a different theme. Sometimes it is a line from the Lochearn motto. The theme can also be a philosophy taken from life at camp or at home, such as kindness, empowerment or self-confidence. Each theme is meant to ground us as we express our feelings or tell a story. Campers and staff members sing songs, share poetry or tell personal stories to relate to their peers. While sitting around the campfire, girls can have a moment of self-reflection and peace. Campfire Hill can evoke many different emotions, from joy and love to contemplation and gratitude. The time spent together and the conversations that happen on Campfire Hill inspire growth individually and as a community. Lochearn is a place where girls blossom into strong young women, and Campfire Hill is where this transition is often made.
For many campers, coming to Lochearn is their first time away from home. Camp life moves fast, and girls spend their time at Lochearn trying new things, meeting new people and learning new things about themselves. The energy of camp slows down on S-Day nights. Although Campfire Hill offers a more reflective side of camp, it is a part of the experience that makes the summer even more special. Campers can have a quiet moment to be thankful for the opportunity to be at camp and to soak in all of the positivity around them. We love experiencing some of the most beautiful sunsets as we look out over Lake Fairlee, and the rare moment of a hot air balloon flying overhead as we sing “Magic” together always gives us goosebumps. Nothing is more special than spending time with friends, new and old, in the light of the campfire’s glow. Many campers and staff leave Campfire Hill feeling refreshed and inspired for the next week of camp.
Young women at Lochearn have been making the journey up Campfire Hill, portraying respect for the sacred space by walking around and not over the hill. Campers have walked over the same roots and sat on the same benches, unifying Lochearn Lassies for many years. If the trees of Campfire Hill could tell a story, it would be the story of how the Lochearn motto comes to life each summer in the words and songs of Lochearn Lassies since 1916.