“At Camp Fern, among the miracles of star shaped leaves and the black bass’ nest, arrogance and scorn and intolerance fade, while humility and love blossom.”
– ’Aunt Mag’ Hilliard, Founder Camp Fern, Camp Fern Brochure 1954
Mr. Bill Rotzler, husband of long-time owner Peggy Hilliard Rotzler, was known for saying that tribes provide the “hot sauce” of camp life. Essential to the Camp Fern Legacy experience is a camper’s tribe. Participating in friendly competition provides yet another training ground for the development of character. Being part of a tribe requires a camper to not only do their personal best but to be willing to work with others and encourage them to do their best as well. Tribal competition teaches good sportsmanship, loyalty to a group, and respect for a worthy opponent. Learning to be a gracious loser and a humble winner are invaluable life-skills.
New campers join their tribe on the first night of camp by random draw. They will remain in this tribe each year until their last year as a camper. Each tribe is led by two elected senior campers. As long-time Owner and Director, Margaret Rotzler Lee always personified during her tenure, we strive to develop leaders who understand when it is necessary to step up but also what it requires to lead by example and from behind, tirelessly building up & encouraging those they lead.
In addition to group competition, there are many ways campers can contribute to their tribes. These opportunities include personal advancements geared towards the advancement of skills in their daily activities and camper of the week, a recognition for being helpful to cabinmates.
At the end of each 4 week session a winner is revealed for the tribe that has earned the most tribe points throughout the session. These plaques are on display in our Rec Hall and date back to Camp’s first summers.
Every Saturday night, we gather as a group around our weekly campfire. This is a time to recognize accomplishments and reflect on our week. At the conclusion of this evening activity, campers join hands and say goodnight by singing Taps. At our closing campfire on the last night of camp, leaders of each tribe bury the hatchet to remain safe over the long winter.
Vespers & Green Cathedral
Camp Fern Legacy strives to continue teaching the motto: God first, Others second, I am third. We are founded on Christian principles with an acceptance of all faiths. Each day after dinner, as the sun goes down, campers make their way to the water’s edge for a Vespers service. The giant trees around our council ring stand all-knowing as they have for centuries and the lake looks almost purple in the twilight, not a ripple stirs its mirrored surface. It is here that we take a break from the busy schedule of the day and enjoy a moment of stillness. While listening to our fellow campers lead us through a well thought out virtuous lesson such as the importance of being an encourager or loving others as we love ourselves, we are able to recharge.
Honor Campers are those campers who exhibit a strong character, putting their focus not on themselves, but others. These are the individuals who seek to do what is right, even when no one is looking. Honor Campers are selected by the leadership staff and are recognized in front of their peers at the end of the session. Campers who attend mini, two-week sessions are not eligible to be selected.