Embers, a Daily Camp Reflection
Last updated: February 2, 2023, at 10:01 a.m. PT
Originally published: January 18, 2023, at 11:01 a.m. PT
Often when talking about camp, we focus on the big, exciting activities and evening programs. They’re fun and full of energy, and often what our campers tell stories of when they go home. Embers are often one of the last things a camper mentions, but one of the most important activities they will participate in all week.
Embers are usually just a small, nightly reflection each evening right before bedtime, but the impact it has on a cabin community is crucial to developing meaningful connection and fostering a sense of belonging. We call them Embers because if the daytime at camp is a fire raging with bright energy, then the embers are what’s left when the day is over and we can take time to reflect. This is the time for campers to reflect on their day, their lives at home and school, what connections they’re making at camp, and how they can explore their identity safely. Examples of Embers activities include sharing our future goals, talking about the highlights of our days and what they meant to us, talking about our commonalities and differences, guided meditations, and intentional mindfulness activities.
In order for youth to get the most out of their camp experience, it starts with feeling safe and welcomed into an Embers session. Guidelines of Embers circles include an open mind, maintaining each other’s privacy by respecting what is shared, and an imagination to think creatively about each other and the world around us. By sharing our thoughts and experiences with each other, we may find that we have more in common than we think. We may start to develop unexpected friendships within the cabin and feel like we truly belong in this space.
Embers also serves as a transition to bedtime at camp smoothly. We play hard at camp nearly all day long, and without Embers, asking some campers to go to bed right after a high-energy evening program is setting them up for failure. Embers allows us to take time to center ourselves before bed and give our bodies a chance to relax enough to comfortably go to bed. The goal of Embers is to help foster feelings of belonging, connection, safety, and value. We want our campers to go to sleep knowing that they are safe, they are a valuable person in our community, and that they are free to show up as their most authentic self.