Captain’s Night is one of my favorite camp traditions. I have loved this event since my first summer at Pinecliffe.
To the unfamiliar, Captain’s Night looks (and sounds) a bit funny. The evening starts with a short play (the play/theme is a surprise to the rest of the camp) starring the Captains, Co-Captains, and the Honey Bear. After the play, we have a BBQ and corn… lots and lots of corn. Each age group saves their corn husks and uses them to create artwork based on the night’s theme. The artwork is then judged by the Lodge and a winner is selected. Later that night we have the Captain’s Night Campfire! At this campfire the Co-Captains of both teams give speeches to their team thanking them for such a wonderful summer. We sing songs and we even send out wish boats into the lake. Ultimately this campfire marks the beginning of the end of a summer at Pinecliffe, but it is also one that every camper looks forward to.
Looking back on my first ever Captain’s Night as a Super Cliffe (back then they were called Double Cliffes) I remember that I was sick that night. In fact, I was on week two of living in the infirmary, and to say the least, I was not pleased. I watched the captains and Lodge perform Mary Poppins, the campers eat tons of corn, and could hear laughter all the way from the porch of the Infirmary. My not-so-happy camper self quickly transformed into a happy camper, as I got to experience this fun night from afar. The real highlight of the night was the campfire. I was allowed to go to the campfire down at the beach with the nurses. When it came time to make my wish, I was given a lit candle boat and I placed it into Crystal Lake. The memory is a little fuzzy from my years since then, but I can only imagine what my wish entailed. It most likely had to do with getting out of the infirmary as quickly as possible! Even though I was in the middle of not feeling my best, I could still recognize the beauty around me and how special it was to be a part of something like this. It was the moment I fell in love with Captain’s Night; watching all the small wish boats float away from camp and into the night.
There was, and still is, something so magical about the singing around me, the Lodge lighting candles, and the wish boats floating out into the lake. To this day, the light illuminating the dark water on Crystal Lake still brings both a smile to my face. It’s beauty and tradition always brings tears to my eyes. Because yes, it really does mean another summer is quickly coming to an end.
Maja Toncic is the Assistant Director at Camp Pinecliffe, working closely with Patty, Marcy, and Casey. She began her Pinecliffe summers as a third generation camper in 1990, and in 2000 returned as a counselor. She has worked with our Cliffes, as a Smallcraft instructor, as the Assistant Director of Swim, a Senior Group Leader, Program Director, and now an Assistant Director.