Defining Tradition

October 19th, 2020

I always get nervous about using the word “traditional” or “tradition” to describe camp. To a new camp family, they hear traditional as something old, outdated and it reminds them of their grandparents. What we really mean when we say “traditional” is cabins/tents by the lake, s’mores around the campfire, capture the flag on the field and cheering in the dining hall.

The word “tradition” can be even worse! Non camp-folk hear the word tradition and conjure up a picture of the old camp movie, “Meatballs.” (If you’ve never seen it, watch it – it’s great. But PLEASE don’t think that that is what camp is like!).

For us in the Netop family, we hear the word “tradition” and think of the tribal games, arms around each other singing on Sunday morning and Netop sundaes. We think of the stick hunt, Klondike Day and Fourth of July. We think of the Four Spokes and Netop talks.

I looked up the word “tradition” to remind myself that it’s not the actual thing that you are doing that makes the tradition. It’s the belief and the feeling that it evokes as it gets passed down from generation to generation. I got on this train of thought because October is a big month of traditions for me and my family. I love the fall and doing all things fall, but this year looks and feels different. And I realized that we have started to create new traditions and new customs to fit the times that we are living in.

It got me thinking about how we physically missed this summer and we missed out on our typical summer traditions. But can we come up with ways this year to evoke those same feelings that we get when we win a Netop Sundae certificate, or our team wins the tribal games? Can we start some new traditions?

One new tradition that I wanted to start this year was winter reunions – organizing meet-ups in our biggest towns/cities/areas to gather everyone together for an activity of some sort and to reminisce about the summer. Unfortunately, we probably won’t get to gather in-person, but I’m still hoping to create the tradition with virtual events in January/February.

Have you started a new tradition lately? Maybe with your camp friends, your home friends, your family? And if you haven’t, what traditions that already exist might you have to tweak a little bit, due to the current COVID circumstances?

And remember, the most important part of a tradition is passing it on to future generations so make sure to choose a custom that can be shared with others.

Wishing you all a crisp, leaf-crunchy, spooky October!

Yours in camping,


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