By Jo-El Wadsworth
The longest standing tradition at Scottie’s Place is the evening campfire and the giving of thanks. If it is a rainy night, we gather at the pavilion, around a circle of candlelight. But if the night is clear, the moon rising and the early stars just beginning to appear, we gather at the fire circle. It is a ritual welcomed by staff and children, alike and helps bring closure to the end of another long day of adventure.
When we first gather, there are songs: Pizza Man or Reece’s Pieces, then games: Essences, Life Stories or Seven-Up, and lastly, a fairy tale, read aloud. Then Thanks. The group becomes silent and we listen carefully and respectfully to every member as they express their thankfulness for friends and experiences, for the land and its gifts, for their families and their lives. It is always a sacred time, and it is humbling to realize that since 2000 when we began camp programs, thousands of thanks have been given at Scottie’s Place. When the last person in the circle finishes giving thanks, the silence settles like a mist over the group. We breathe quietly, scanning the stars, watching the embers glow and pulse, listening to crickets and owls and frogs. For long minutes, no one moves or speaks, while we wait for the moment to pass, the spell to be broken and then, with a sigh or a laugh, we turn to each other with renewed appreciation and commitment.