Camp brings kids together that might not have met each other otherwise.

At Luna’s Fire, everyone discussed their school’s reopening plans, or talked about homeschooling groups and how the year would go. Almost everyone attended different schools but came together at camp to share friendship and connection for the week. It’s easy to imagine a scenario where camp wasn’t able to happen this year, but thanks to careful planning and precautions, friendships were able to flourish this summer.

It’s a tradition in Luna’s Fire to start the week with a huge fire that everyone contributes to. They gathered firewood, broke it down and built a teepee structure with the door facing north. Everyone took turns adding to the structure, adding layers and layers of sticks until they had a structure that would light quickly and burn brightly. One of the first matches caught, and the structure went up in flames before our eyes. The darkness of a morning in the back hemlocks made the fire even more magnificent; a reddish glow shone on everybody’s faces as they regarded the fire in silence. The smoke rose into the trees and caught the morning sun in just the right way.

After the magnificent fire to start the week, Luna’s Fire continued with exploring new skills and adding to traditions. They all signed their name on the staff, which has all the signatures of every Luna’s Fire camper since it first started about 8 years ago. On Tuesday they made clay with a powder base that another camp had collected and processed, adding water and mixing it together. The clay creations varied, two girls collaborated in making a chess set, while others made bowls, snakes, earrings and beads. They all created a little something to give back to woods, to hide where someone might find it in the future or to let it be dissolved by rain.

While two Luna’s fire groups roamed 4-H acres, some wilderness explorers journeyed far beyond the boundaries of camp. At Finger Lakes National Forest in Hector, NY, campers explored the woods, built base camps and hiked long distances across cow fields and through gorges. Early in the week, they encountered a lost cow they dubbed Wander and successfully returned her to her farmer. On Thursday, they met some horseback riders and watched in amazement as the horses ambled along the trail. Besides encountering some large animals, they hiked down a mostly dry waterfall, stalked frogs in Teeter Pond, and built a raft out of sticks they sawed themselves.