Now that you have a visual idea of what the monastery looks like, try to imagine it as the stage of a play about summer camp. The kiddos run through the halls and down the stairs, dance to music in the patio, lean their backpacks against the walls. Day-trippers hold themselves in a straight line, afraid to ruin the monastery, but the students zig-zag through every nook and cranny. They are comfortable living in a world that looks like Hogwarts.
After English classes end at 5, the students’ day is far from done. They have every sport from swimming to yoga, and indulge their crafty side by writing newspapers or knotting lanyards. The event they anticipate most every day, however, is the night activity. Each night there is a different party, and the theme is kept secret for as long as possible.
Teachers do not have to participate, but on the first Tuesday of camp I took part in a psychopath-themed party. This meant that the monitores (camp counselors) and I had to pretend to be crazy. We had to run as fast as we could from the kids as they tried to catch us. When they caught us, they fed us a gummy candy to “calm” the crazy person down. Once this was done, the students had to guess which character we were. This was something we’d thought up ahead of time, and the person we chose had nothing to do with our outfit. For example, I was running around in a green, Robin Hood-esque cape, but the character I chose was Hermione from the Harry Potter series. The kids asked us yes-no questions until they had figured out our character, at which point I had to sign a sheet of paper. At the end of the night, the group with the most signatures won the game.
It was fantastic fun, and after it was over I was already looking forward to the following week’s noche de terror. The monastery is ready-made for terror night, and that particular velada (night activity) is a huge production. All of the teachers participated, and the monitors gave us specific roles to play. I was told to wear a white dress (You do have one at camp, right?) and to run around the monastery singing. Everyone else had specific stations–in a bathroom stall, on the stairs, behind a door, on a window ledge, etc etc. All of the lights were turned off, and the students wound through the haunted house with only a monitor and a flashlight. It lasted over two hours, during which there were screams from children of all ages.
Getting ready–Megan and I slip into character
Megan, Tana, and Lindsay pose in front of Cookie and Ely
Before the lights go off, a monitor glides to the basement to collect the first group of students
Tana, is that you?
Debbie and two monitors were illuminated with only a fistful of tea candles
Another way that everyone in camp came together was for a lip dub on final Thursday. Each class was given about 20 seconds of lyrics from Katy Perry’s song “Firework,” then the teachers and students worked to create posters, props, and dance moves for their few seconds of fame. They were positioned all around the monastery, but for the finale everyone gathered in the courtyard.
Megan painted this poster to go along with the part of the song her students were assigned
Scott models the Uncle Sam hat and vest the kids would wear in the video
The Fourth of July in August? Better late than never…
During the lip dub I was busy taking still shots of the rehearsal and the confetti-flying final take. I was impressed with how full the monastery managed to look–it’s such a spacious place that 130 campers don’t come close to filling it.
The kids loved the activity, and their excitement was infectious. Watch the lip dub here. I’m in the last shot but I bet you can’t find me!