It’s a question you’ll here around camp, and one that girls have asked me probably every year. “What’s your favorite banquet?” Usually, I try to answer in a way that doesn’t commit to any single favorite. I’ll say something like, “I’ve seen so many good ones!” Which is true, since over the years I’ve been to more than 40 different banquets. Of course a few are more memorable because they are exceptionally well done— elaborate costumes, detailed wall decorations, great music, and entertaining dance numbers and skits. Generally though, all banquets, these end of session parties, are really fun events that everyone at camp looks forward to.
This session’s banquet was no different, but I have to say, it ranks up there as one of the best. The CA campers (9th graders) and their counselors created a one of kind experience for the whole camp that I think everyone will remember as amazing. Their surprise theme was the 1980s. They called it “Retro Rewind,” and it featured colorful characters, images and popular styling from the decade. Naturally, music from the 80s was a big part of the party, with familiar pop songs lined up in the playlist.
The sounds of Madonna, Michael Jackson, The Cure, Hall & Oats, Billy Idol, Whitney Houston, Cindy Lauper and more got everyone up and dancing, and singing along. Most banquets mix into their music selections contemporary pop songs. Not this one. They had more than enough upbeat, fun dance songs to play, songs that despite being 30 to 40 years old, were familiar to the campers and staff.
We could say something similar about the painted panel decorations that lined all the walls. They showed an incredible variety of 80s references, from music, movies, television shows, and celebrities. There were panels featuring, Star Wars, the Outsiders, Pac Man, MTV, Dirty Dancing, Ghost Busters, Top Gun (the original!), Raiders of the Lost Ark, Back to the Future, and Footloose to name a few.
The CA girls all dressed as different 80s characters. With 29 CAs and 6 counselors, there were a lot of costumes! We had smurfs, jazzersize instructors, Care Bears, Star Wars characters like Princess Leia and Darth Vader, Ghost Busters, Jurassic Park characters (including a T-Rex!), Scooby Doo and Velma, Maverick and Goose from Top Gun, Stevie Nicks, Madonna, Michael Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, and others
The dance numbers were fantastic! The version of Thriller, led by Michael Jackson, brought the whole camp to its feet cheering. Madonna’s performance of “Material Girl” was just as exciting. “The Time of Our Lives” from Dirty Dancing included some incredible acrobatic dance spins. The whole camp loved seeing the performances.
The campers wore their camp t-shirts to the banquet. This year’s yellow shirt fit right into the theme. They sat at tables grouped by their lines (age groups) to eat their meal and to watch the CAs perform. We ate “Tetris Tots,” “Marty McMelon Balls,” “Time Travel Tenders” “Super Sonic Salad,” and “Retro Rockbrookies” for dessert. Half the time, everyone wasn’t sitting; they were up and dancing, jumping and spinning to the 80s music.
The vibe of this 80s banquet was incredibly upbeat and joyful. All of the elements amplified the celebration— the costumes, the party favors, the candy, the black light and mirrored ball, the neon color scheme, the pumping music, the sheer exuberance of the campers singing and screaming with delight. You’ve probably never seen this many girls having this much high energy fun. It’s an experience that can’t be recreated anywhere except at camp. That’s probably an important reason why Rockbrook girls all love the banquet. They get to experience it only once a year.
But I think they also love it because it’s fun like nothing else, and that I think comes from the friendships that form the base of it all. The special bond they feel with their camp friends makes this party special as well. Knowing each other this well, caring for each other this deeply, feeling accepted and encouraged this fully, empowers the girls to let loose a little more, maybe dance with more gusto. The smiles, the singing, the dancing arm-in-arm, the energy of it all— it’s electrifying. Truly a blast.
This was a terrific banquet. Just ask anyone who was there. They’ll probably admit it’s one of their favorites.