The Importance of Traditions

In less than a couple of months, campers from all over the United States (and beyond) will begin their summer “tradition” of attending summer camp.

When I think of traditions and how much they bring to our lives, I am immediately brought back to The Fiddler on The Roof, and Tevye singing his heart out to explain why we do certain things time and time again….because it’s tradition!   Tevye may have been singing about the specific roles we take in the family and carrying on these roles to keep us grounded and connected, but traditions go so much further and mark so many important events in our lives.  

A tradition can be defined as an occasion or event that becomes custom practice. Wikepedia defines Tradition as “a ritual, belief or object passed down within a society, still maintained in the present, with origins in the past”.  The word “tradition” itself derives from the Latin tradere or traderer literally meaning to transmit, to hand over, to give for safekeeping.

These rituals can be annual; like holiday gatherings and family reunions, or destination specific; like vacationing in the same place each year.  Traditions can be any activity you repeat to mark an occasion or event.  Family traditions create closeness between people…a sense of belonging and identity.  They link us to the bigger picture, and connect us to people who have come before us.  Traditions bring a sense of security.  We come to rely on certain rituals and events that unify us and bring back memories of the past.  The players of the event may change, but the tradition remains the same and keeps us connected to the past, in addition to building memories of the present.

Traditions are an especially important part of the camp culture.  They are the anchor that connects our camp family, and strengthens our relationships to one another.    Camp traditions bring a sense of community, and connect us through the generations.  If you look around most camps, you will find an area that displays color war plaques of years past, transporting you back though the camp’s history and the campers who came before you.  The making of the plaques and these types of camp traditions give us context and remind us of the bigger picture.

At camp Iroquois Springs we can appreciate our everyday traditions… like morning and evening line up, when we hand out “fuzzies” to campers that did something nice for someone else that day, as well as the special occasion traditions like the Order of the Blue and Gold and rope-burn.  Being able to link campers to the past generations by singing alma mater songs during the Order of the Blue and Gold, or giving out longevity awards for campers that have been with us through the years, creates memories that are priceless.  Traditions are engrained in the very fiber of what camp is about.  They are moments that we all look forward to and reinforce our sense of belonging and unity.

In a world of constant changes and great distance between people, it’s great that we can embrace old traditions and strive to create new ones.  Looking forward to another summer of wonderful traditions, new and old.