Tag Archives: Summer Camp For Girls

Campfire Hill: A 100 Year Walk in History

Camp Lochearn Campfire HillWhen 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.

The Four-Week Overnight Lochearn Experience

Of all the questions we receive at Lochearn throughout the year leading up to the summer, the most frequent from parents and prospective campers alike is one we love answering: Why the four-week experience?

It’s simple, really. We want to build real relationships, incite genuine growth, build confidence, and, rather than force someone to find their passions, give everyone the time to fall in love with the camp experience in her own way. We at Camp Lochearn believe it’s much tougher to develop these connections – both with others and within yourself – in just two weeks, where the outside world continues to call you back, as do family and friends from home. For everyone on the shores of Lake Fairlee, it’s just you and camp, which is built around our core values: Leadership, Mentoring, Initiative and Passion.

A two-week experience gives girls an opportunity – an excuse, even – to stay in the background and be a seer rather than a doer. We often say “We don’t have invisible campers,” because it’s true. We know it’s tough to open yourself up to others. We’ve been there. It takes confidence, strength and time. We don’t want to rush that growth or inhibit it in any way. Some arrive at the gates ready to conquer those 27 days, and that’s wonderful. But others can’t. It’s not that they’re incapable – we’ve yet to meet anyone who arrives at Lochearn and is – but they often need someone to lead them there. That’s why the relationships built in the cabins on Lake Fairlee are key, and we often see campers emerge with life-long relationships. Realizing you have more in common with others – things you often can’t see in the first few days of meeting someone – is an invaluable experience, and it’s one that can only develop naturally. There’s no time limit on it.

And it can take time to find out what makes you love camp. It’s not your fault – it happens to most. You may not know how much you enjoy horseback riding, skiing, gymnastics or fine arts. Many don’t discover what they love until they’re old and grown, or before it’s too late. We strive to give you 27 days of discovery when it comes to finding your passion, and we hope our campers and staff alike bring a kind and caring heart to give every girl the opportunity to grow together.

From all over the world, our staff is carefully chosen to not just bring a guiding eye, but often they’re brought to Lochearn because they’re relatable. The camper-counselor relationship is built on guidance and respect for everyone rather than authority. Whether it’s because they’ve been to camp before, or they’ve taken an atypical path in life, our counselors are leaders we hope our girls aspire to be, because they’ve found confidence in embracing what they love.

We don’t want to rush what makes you YOU, and the four-week experience makes it possible. Let’s passionately grow together!

Why go to summer camp?

At Camp Lochearn, girls have the chance to learn all kinds of skills from sailing to sewing and everything in between. But they’ll also learn skills that extend far past their summer activity schedules. Abilities and opportunities gained as a camper are those that weave through all facets of life, making girls well-rounded, confident individuals that shine in school and, later on, in the workforce.

It’s likely camp is the first experience a girl will have away from home for a few weeks at a time. This can be a little scary at first, but it really gives them the chance to grow into who they are without boundaries. As writer Michael Thompson wrote in his book Homesick and Happy, “The only way children can grow into independence is to have their parents open the door and let them walk out. That’s what makes camp such a life-changing experience for children.” At Lochearn, girls can be completely themselves, whoever they may be. They have the opportunity to challenge themselves in many ways — from striving to earn a purple in Archery to practicing good teamwork and sportsmanship. Being able to complete these challenges while away from home boosts self-esteem, builds a sense of empowerment and strengthens independence.

Girls who go to summer camp, especially an all-girls program, are often better prepared for the future than other girls their ages. Because camp is all about making lasting connections with peers as well as staff members — and maintaining those connections year-round — the girls learn how to network at a young age. This puts our girls at an advantage when it comes to making connections in school or later when applying for a job. In fact, one of the greatest advantages of joining us at Lochearn is that our girls develop communication skills they’ll use throughout their entire lives. Campers are put into a situation that’s not typical for people their ages. Each summer, whether first-time or returning campers, they have the opportunity to meet new people and make connections that extend across the globe. This also adds to girls’ knowledge, interest in and acceptance of other cultures.

Lochearn is not just an investment in a girl’s summer — it’s an investment in her future. The value of the camp experience truly goes beyond summers spent on the shores of beautiful Lake Fairlee.