I swear it was the sunniest day of the summer. The skies were bright blue, the lake was calm, and there were smiles on the faces of everybody I chatted with. It was just about time for Sunday Chapel services at camp and I was a first-timer.
If you have never experienced a Sunday at Dudley, I highly recommend doing so. Of my four summers at Dudley, I had yet to experience one and I will now shame myself for never attending these festivities.
It amazed me how small camp looked from the top of the Chapel steps. It was like a big extended family, comfortable squished into the stunning evergreen tree-lined grove.
The Gospel Choir was absolutely beautiful, between their group songs, solo pieces, and guitar number performed by Pete O’Brien.
James Mayo, lead from the piano seat, keeping the energy high and the audience engaged, while #21982 Dom Walker started out the Gospel songs on a lovely strong note.
The readings chosen were equally inspiring and it was nice to see the campers present these passages separately or alongside their cabin mates.
When the audience was invited to join in the singing the whole area was filled with the joyous voices of this family, and it brought a smile to my own face to see everybody so engaged and to know I was a part of it.
Director, Matt Storey, made an inspiring introduction speech where he told campers and leadership alike to “make the most of it,” meaning their last week, and to “find something you have not done yet at camp” and do it.
Storey finished his speech by advising us all to remain, “loud and proud!”
This was followed by thunderous applause and excited YOHA’s thrown in the air.
The main speaker of the service though was, Father Mark Connell, who had last spoken in 2011. Connell started out his speech by pulling the audience in. “I am looking at our nation’s future leaders, filled with hope,” he said of the campers.
Connell went on to tell a story in which he incorporated eye color, saying that for the last week of camp green-eyed people could not swim, blue-eyes could not have dinner, and brown-eyes had to go home today.
The point of this? It’s “kind of silly to think of ourselves by one characteristic of who we are,” Connell announced, bringing his fake experiment full circle.
“We like as people, to put people in categories,” he continued. “We do it in every aspect of our lives.”
Connell advised us to “seek for yourself what is your greatness” and take down those walls we have built up against one another for this last week of camp.
Overall, Chapel was a magical place that left everybody, myself included, engaged until the final song had ended and the audience dispersed into the beautiful day.
Later that night I ventured back to camp, my younger sister in tow. We were attending another Sunday Dudley tradition, Hymn Sing.
Walking into Witherbee Hall Sunday night the first thing I felt was the energy apparent as all the campers and leaders filed in and sat around and atop the stage, screaming and pumping one another up for the event.
It was growing darker outside, but the liveliness of Witherbee made it feel like the sunniest day at camp had not quite ended yet.
At 8:00 p.m. sharp, piano-fanatic, James Mayo started right in with the Hymns, keeping the energy high with his joyful prompts of, “Verse two!”
I was amazed at how many of the campers knew the hymns without looking at the lyrics, and had simply left their books on the ground beside them.
There was one hymn that brought everybody to their feet immediately and I wondered if there was a place in this world that had more spirit?
I definitely knew the answer was no there was not. There was something about singing in a big group in a small area that brought a smile to my face as I sang and clapped louder to the words of the hymns.
As the night came to a close and the hymns got sadder and more emotional I saw the truth in Mayo’s earlier words, “it just baffles me how fast this summer has flown by, some days I wish camp could last forever.”
I definitely could not agree more. As this summer comes to a close I want to thank you all for reading, and especially thank the Dudley staff, leaders, campers, etc. for this opportunity. It has truly been the best summer yet. YOHA!
By #22835 Alexa Mitchell