Laughter, reflections, bright flames that crackle, a star filled sky above, white pines, poetic verses, two camps join as one, songs that fill the air, camper recognition and the echo of taps that lures us all toward our dreams are just a few ways one might describe Forest Lake’s Campfire experience. One of the most meaningful and spirited examples of tradition at FLC comes in the form of our weekly Campfire in the woods. Forest Lake has beckoned its camp family to this sacred spot in the woods for generations. Perhaps the only change one might notice are the trees stand a bit taller and the benches appear a bit more worn as this space has welcomed campers and staff for many, many decades.
Forest Lake’s campfire is the place where campers and staff stand before one another, as individuals, as cabin groups or simply as friends to perform and laugh, to speak from the heart or sing from the soul. Campfire forever remains an experience and a place that holds deep meaning and long lasting memories and traditions. Forest Lake values the opportunity to create a space where our camp family can learn and hear from one another and where laughter flows freely.
Perhaps in its purest form, campfire is an opportunity for campers and counselors to be their true selves and show off their passion and express their uniqueness for all to see.
As a way to celebrate our campfire tradition at Forest Lake Camp we have asked for reflections from our staff and camper family. It is our FLC community who have experienced campfire, who are best suited to express the power of this experience.
It doesn’t matter if you are on stage at Carnegie Hall or standing on some dirt and gravel in front of a 150 plus people – it takes courage to literally put yourself out there. Whether an act is silly or serious, short or long, new or a traditional, campfire helps foster intangible characteristics like courage and creativity that are applicable to every avenue of life. Some of my fondest memories of camp have taken place at campfire. –Marc Grelsamer
The traditional campfire at Forest Lake is the epitome of a story-telling arena. With stories, songs, skits and games coming from different cultures and backgrounds, it is a place where we can all sit around and share laughs and tears. Each Sunday at Forest Lake is incredibly special and unique; as a camper and counselor I looked forward to campfires every week as a chance to relax, laugh, listen and be. There is something so special about the whole camp coming together around a fire to listen to each other and celebrate the summer. Campfire memories are ones that will stick with me for the rest of my life. -Emily Fagan
Campfire builds community and confidence for campers and staff alike. It has helped me improve my public speaking skills, encouraged me to go outside of my comfort zone, and given me a creative place to express myself at camp! – Caroline Kravitz
Campfire is beyond a shadow of a doubt my favorite weekly event. It brings us all together as one camp, all the campers, all the staff, counselors, nurses, admin, directors and owners. That audience pull is what makes it unique. Whether it is the owner performing an anti rain chart, a director leading an egg skit, the staff laundry girl giving us all a memory we can never forget (The Freida and Bailey Show) or a visiting staff member reciting a story, there is so much to cherish. There are acts that have stood the test of time, The Mafoy sit up, Campfire Challenges and of course The Cremation of Sam Magee. Traditional and timeless, the landscape and buildings may alter but our time together in the woods will hopefully always be on the schedule. In the last 5 summers the songs have been the most memorable part for me. Ria and Hardcore Joe singing ‘Home’, Katharine Mulderry singing Fleetwood Mac’s classic “Landslide”, Katharine and Olivia singing a beautiful song at Candlelight, or Valentina and friends performing their own renditions. A much more famous (than me) Englishman once said, “Music is the food of life” and if that is the case then we are never hungry at campfire and if we are, well, someone can always build a fire and cook an egg in under 3 minutes. – Brett Booker
There are very few things I remember from when I was a 10 year old, and for most of my memories it helps to have a photo to remember what things looked like. No pictures exist, but I can still see it as if it were yesterday. August 1967 – Candlelight Campfire (final campfire of the season) – A single file line of campers and staff all holding candles descending from the woods in silence. As we cleared the tree line it was possible to see clearly where we were going. A crystal clear night, crisp and cool, no moon, more stars than you ever saw at home, and an aurora borealis filled sky that looked like a red & green cathedral was being built overhead. -John Cullen
My fondest memory at campfire would be from when I was a camper. It was my third year at camp so I was only 9 yrs old. It was the first year that I had stayed for a month. It was Candlelight Campfire and although it was dark I can remember this clear as day. It was the last act of campfire. Gary Confer had gotten up to tell a story about when he was a camper. I remember that the fire had gone down to a soft glow and the embers barely spoke as they sat in the fire. The night had completely covered us in a blanket but no one seemed to notice. All eyes were focused on Gary as he told his story. It was one of the best stories I had heard and really changed my view on camp and how I treated it. It also made campfire something I wanted to be apart of more than ever. – JC Nordt
Campfires are such an integral part of the camp experience and Forest Lake Camp. From the awards that recognize excellence in our campers, the variety of skits that can go from jests at the weeks events to showcases of campers’ talents and the willingness from everyone to be involved. But the best parts are the ending songs where the whole camp seems to be at its closest; with everyone at peace and unified in listening to the song. –Chris Ihlefeld