There were many grand traditions at QLC in those days, from tossing staff member into the lake to gathering for vespers every evening on the hillside. Camp was full of mischief and fun as well as opportunities to worship God- but seldom did those 2 things coincide. The greatest of all the traditions, as it is at many camps, was our closing Campfire Circle every Friday night. The ritual was the same each week, no matter the age of the campers. We would process deep in to the woods and be seated on wooden benches around a roaring fire. Someone would lead us in a couple of songs, and then the campers would be given a short devotional talk and an explanation of how this was their time to share. We would settle into silence, broken only by campers and staff sharing what was on their hearts and tossing sticks into the fire as a symbol of sharing in all we done that week. It was often a very emotional time. We would then light individual candles on small wooden bases and walk back through pitch darkness, with only the flickering flames to light our way along the winding path. Upon reaching the main campus, there were several different ways we displayed our candles, joining the lights together as one. Sometimes we placed them on a cross. Sometime we placed them on the softball field in the shape of a cross. And sometimes we places them on the lake itself and just watched as they floated like stars on the water. No matter how many times I was part of those moments, they always moved me. They were very worshipful occasions.
In the summer of '78 we were just finishing a 6th, 7th & 8th grade camp, which those of us on staff always thought of as a very tough week. On Friday night we waited for night to fall and then headed off to the Campfire Circle. After sharing in the time together we did our ritual candle lighting. Everyone held their candle securely as we marched through the woods, across the Rainbow Bridge and around the lake to the dock. The dock was "H" shaped in those days, and the entire camp walked out on the dock with candles lit. Jan Osborne, who was a newcomer to the QLC family that summer and the camp director that week, said a few words explaining the significance of sharing our light with the world. She was explaining that in a few moments we would all place our candles on the lake, where the combined light was always a wondrous sight to see. As she leaned over to demonstrate, the sleeve of the flannel shirt she was wearing as a jacket got too close to the candle next to her...and Jan was on fire! Joseph Neal helped her get the burning shirt off and stomp out the fire as everyone looked on in shock. Jan was fine, and determined to give this week of camp the spiritual ending it deserved, so she went right back to her speech. She told everyone to place their candle on the lake, and then asked Martha Ratledge to lead us in singing Pass It On, a camp favorite. As we stood on the dock and admired the candles on the lake, Martha began to play her guitar, and the first line was sung: It only takes a spark, to get a fire going... I don't know if I laughed first, but I do know I laughed out loud, and so did many others. The moment was gone. Suddenly everyone there was doubled up with laughter. Jan tried to restore some dignity, but it was too late. I am sure someone closed with a prayer, but I don't remember it at all. And that is the last thing I remember about Jan Osborne's brief QLC adventure.