Every Merri-Mac camper dreads the day when Anne Boyd passes out white song sheets and says, “Lets practice Lakeside songs”.  Instead of cheering on our tribes for another 10 minutes, every camper must come to terms with the fact that camp will soon be over. As we sing, there is an unspoken air of sadness, everyone realizing they will have to say goodbye.

That night Merri-Mac tribal leaders hand their girls their candles and plates, the silence ban goes on, and they all walk down to the lake for Lakeside.  This longstanding tradition has marked the end of the summer for over 67 years.  Campers young and old can recall the same sights and sounds, extending the Merri-Mac family into the past, present, and future.

The tribes take their seats around the lake and one brave from each tribe swims their torch to the fire dock, igniting the light and beginning the ceremony.  The Chiefs and Medicine Men get into their canoes and paddle around the roaring fire in the middle of the lake.  These brave leaders take the flame from the fire dock and bring it back to their tribe.  All the while, the campers and staff sing, filling the air with words of friendship and love.

The staff begin lighting their candles singing, “It only takes a spark, to get a fire going” and the campers follow suit.  Each camper makes a wish on their plate as they place it onto the water.  The lake fills with light and wishes as the campers make their way towards their cabins.  Everyone lingers by the boat house to say their goodbyes.  Counselors try to usher their campers to the cabins, but they are persuaded to linger by the tears streaming down their campers faces.

Lakeside is a beautiful ceremony that holds sentimental value to hundreds of campers past and present.  This tradition ties current campers to the extensive Merri-Mac family and deepens our love for Christ, and each other.  The friendships made at Merri-Mac merit this extensive and meaningful goodbye. We hope that you will enjoy these pictures of our most meaningful evening activities.

~Lee Bolton
Proud Seminole
14 time Lakeside Attendee

Photography by Wendy Perry