Vespers for these Times… August 16, 2020

Flower Vespers, 2020


Hark the Vesper bell is pealing,

O’er the meadow soft and green.

Nearer now and nearer stealing,

Soft it breaks upon my ear.

Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen. Jubilate, jubilate, jublilate, Amen.

First Words:   Ah…the last Vespers of the 2020 camp season.  Every summer, the last Vespers brings our community together to name and celebrate the special relationships and experiences we have shared at camp.  This summer, unusual though it has been, should include this opportunity.  This Vespers will celebrate those elements while simultaneously bringing into your mind’s eye the beautiful wild flowers that carpet camp.

A Poem:I Will Go Out and Look at the Flowers,” by Edith Matilda Thomas (1854-1925)

Note: Edith Thomas lived through some very challenging times.  The American Civil War.  The First World War.  The 1918 Flu Pandemic.  She writes of the importance, in this poem, of going out to look at flowers and the beauty in the world.  It’s good advice.

I Will Go Out and Look at the Flowers

There was one of my kin (of another day)

When the Riddle of Life defied her powers,

And her fretted heart rebelled,

Would say,

“I will go out and look at the flowers.”

And after a while—like those who had quaffed

Of the cup that Helen distilled in her bowers,

Returned from the garden, she softly laughed—

“I have been out to look at the flowers.”

My heart is so ill with the growth of ills

The world is sheaving, these harvest hours—

The sword that smites, and the shell that kills,

While Life lies charred ‘neath the burning towers!

Nothing to do—it will be as who wills?

Helpless to aid, how my hurt soul cowers!….

Let me drink of the cup that pure Beauty distills—

I will go out and look at the flowers.”

First Flowers:

Many people find daisies to put into our collective bouquets.  Remember the dining-room pitchers suddenly transformed by ferns and flowers as people add their bloom to the collection.  Daisies are a symbol of a “love that conquers all”.  Our affection for one another WILL sustain us through the next months even as fall leaves and winter snows cover camp.

When people add their flowers to our community bouquet, most add a thought about their camp experience that they’d like to share with everyone else.  These comments often confirm what each of us thinks, they often bring a tear to the eye as we think of departing, and occasionally, they bring a touch of humor into the emotional power of the afternoon.  Here are a few words drifting through our virtual Vespers tonight.  Since daisies are our first flower mentioned, and they represent the strength of love, here are a couple comments that could well have been made at any one of our final Vespers.

“Before I came to Betsey Cox, I truly did not believe that there could be a space outside of my family and closest friends where I could feel supported and comfortable in all ways.  The warmth and support that I initially received at BC meant so much to me.  I gradually because immersed in the community until I felt I was valued by everyone—which is a wonderful thing to feel, and also valued everyone myself.  The magic and love that exist in the space of camp is other worldly and the people there are some of the best I’ve ever met.  The friends and bonds I’ve made have given me so much strength and the energy I have during the school year coming from camp and knowing I’ll be going back is priceless.”

“Everyone is so welcoming, friendly and positive, camp itself has an amazing atmosphere that I have not experienced anywhere else before.  There is such a feeling of support and acceptance that allows people to relax and be themselves.  I loved waking up every morning surrounded by Vermont’s beautiful scenery.  I made friends for life and became so close to people throughout the summer.”

Sing: “Knowing You’s Been Oh, So Lovely”—a camp song

Knowing you is oh, so lovely,

Knowing you is oh so fine.

Even on a cold grey morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.

Loving you’s been oh, so simple,

Loving you’s been oh, so fine.

Even on a cold grey morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.

All the heavens know I love you,

Just because I told them so.

All the flowers in the meadow,

All the stars and all the stones.

All the horses in the valley,

All the waves upon the sea.

All the mountains standing silent

Far above the golden trees.

So I’ll sing my feelings to you,

Set them down in simple rhyme.

All I am remains here with you.

All of me for all of time.

Knowing you is oh, so lovely.

Knowing you is oh, so fine.

Even on a cold, gray morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.

Loving you’s been oh so simple,

Loving you’s been oh so fine.

Even on a cold, gray morning,

We can make the sunlight shine.

Another Flower:

Wherever you walk around camp you will see the Vermont State flower, the red clover, and its sister bloom, the smaller white clover.  The red clover represents a personal commitment to learning new skills while the white clover “says” “think of me”.  Some people have mentioned their favorite camp activity when they add their flower to the all-camp bouquet.  Here are some of their remarks:


“Out of all the amazing activities offered by camp over the years, my favorite was always the Weavery.  Despite the fact that I had never made a friendship bracelet or woven a bag before, I immediately felt at home the second I sat down at a loom.  As the summers went by and I learned new bracelets and weaving patterns, my confidence in my weaving abilities and in myself in general grew immensely….Learning to weave is a beautiful and rare opportunity, and I am so grateful that Camp gave me the option nut just to learn the art, but to connect with all of the wonderful friends and mentors I met along the way.”

“An activity that has had a great impact on me is the farm!  Ever since I was a camper the farm was my favorite activity to do to.  I enjoyed the routine of feeding the animals and the satisfaction of cleaning their coops, cages and homes….Something that really stand out to me about the farm is that while you have a routine that you do every day, it seems as if anything could happen!  A cow could escape, a sheep could get into the wrong pen, or a kitten could meet a chicken for the first time!  There’s routing and there’s randomness and it’s the perfect combination!  In addition I think it is extremely important for campers to learn about proper treatment towards animals and the proper way to maintain them.  The animals at camp are all very sociable and it is probably the first time a lot of the campers have been around livestock.  The farm is a great place and a favorite place of mine at camp!

“One of my first memories of camp was going to wood shop.  I was nine years old and terrified of anything resembling a power tool!  The staff warmly greeted me and helped me pick out a project to tackle.  I settled on a pig-shaped coat rack.  With a little help, I went to work cutting out the pig=shaped background on the jigsaw.  As I finished the cutout, I felt like a pro!  I wasn’t afraid of using big tools for a specific reason, but I had never done it before and din’t know what it would be like.  If Betsey Cox had been a coed camp, I think I would have been too intimidated to walk into the wood shop not knowing anything.  The all-female, supportive environment made me feel comfortable to risk trying something new.  After conquering my fear, I felt empowered and had learned a new skill.  This experience showed me that you never know until you try.  Camp Betsey Cox gives girls a space to take risks and learn new things without fear of embarrassment.  These summertime experiences made a huge different to me in the ‘real world’ during the school year.”

Sing: “Forever Strong”, with apologies to Bob Dylan

May God bless and keep you always.

May your wishes all come true.

May you always do for others

And let others do for you.

May you climb the ladder to the stars

And shine up near the moon,

May you be…forever strong


Forever strong, forever strong.

May you be…forever strong.

May you grow up to be righteous.

May you grow up to be true.

May you always know the truth

And see the light surrounding you.

May you always be courageous,

Stand upright and be strong.

May you be…forever strong.


May your hands always be busy.

May your feet always be swift.

May you have a strong foundation

When the winds of changes shift.

May your heart always be joyful.

May your song always be sung.

May you be…forever strong.


The Bouquet Grows…Another Flower: 

Sunflowers!  Remember the summer when the garden staff planted a square of sunflowers that campers could walk into with their Crazy Creeks and sit in a room of sunflower blossoms?  Sunflowers are a camp tradition and a camp favorite.  We now plant small ones that attract bees and other pollinators.  Those are small enough to fit in our bouquet while we leave the tall, tall ones to wave enticingly in the west wind!

Sunflowers do grow wild and were native to America.  Their appeal resulted in their being cultivated and they’ve been grown around the world for more than 5,000 years.  Sunflowers have become a symbol of devotion, early on because their blossoms follow the sun’s path across the sky.

At the flower Vespers, we hear people express their devotion to our camp, to each other and to our planet.  Here are some additional quotes from our community members that touch on devotion!

“Camp is about belonging.  I’ve heard the phrase tossed around by campers that they ‘live 10 for 2’ meaning 10 months at home for 2 months at camp.”

“Camp is the spine that holds me up and keeps me in motion when I face life’s challenges.”

“Camp is truly a second home, where we are free to be ourselves and confidently go forth, where we know our self-worth, and where we feel we belong.”

“BC instills a sense of identity and community in its campers.  Anyone who has been to BC can tell that it is a place where girls discover their true value in the world.”

Sing: Song for Judith” by Judy Collins. (Click on Judy to hear her voice singing the song!)

Sometimes, I remember the old days

When the world was filled with sorrow.

You might have thought I was living, but I was all alone.

In my heart the rain was falling, the wind blew and the night was calling:

Come back, come back, I’m all you’ve ever known.


Open the door and come on in, I’m so glad to see you my friend.

You’re like a rainbow coming around the bend.

And when I see you happy, ooh, it sets my heart free.

I’d like to be as good a friend to you as you are to me.

There were friends who could always see me,

Through the haze their smiles would reach me,

Saying okay, saying goodbye, saying hello.

Soon I knew what I was after was life and love, tears and laughter.

Hello, my good friend, hello my darling, what do you know?


I used to think it was only me

Living alone, not feeling free to be alive, to be your friend.

Now I know we all have stormy weather,

The sun shines whenever we’re together.

I’ll be your friend, right to the very end.


And for our bouquet finally: 

Some people, using every minute of the last Sunday in camp, are always rushing to Flower Vespers, hoping that along the way they will find the perfect fern or flower to offer.  In passing the lodge, and even though the Flower Vespers celebrates the wild in each of us by having mostly wild flowers in our bouquet, some people just can’t resist the tall purple phlox that lines the ramp up into the lodge.  Can you see it in your minds’ eye?

We have to have a few phlox in our bouquet since, over time, they came to represent, as Peter Loewer writes in his book LOVES ME, LOVES ME NOT: THE HIDDEN LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS, “our souls united; our hearts united”.

No one leaves Flower Vespers without powerfully know that we, as Camp Betsey Cox community members, are united in heart and soul and that that strong connection will get us through the months away until we can get back to our hillside, just off Sangamon Road, in Pittsford, Vermont.

Here are a few final thoughts from….you, and you, and you!

“Betsey Cox has been the single most transformative experience of my life, and I am eternally grateful for that.  The lessons I’ve learned and community I’ve built at camp will remain important throughout my life.”

“I can be a strong and ambitious girl who doesn’t have to be any one thing.”

“At Betsey Cox there is no definition of normal, everyone is their own unique individual self.”

“Camp is such a different environment than anything else I have experienced.  There is no competition, disapproval, or hatred.”

“To me, Camp is a place where I can come out of my shell and feel confident in sharing my ideas and opinions.  I know I can speak my mind about any issue of importance to me, and that I will be respected and heard.”

“Betsey Cox teaches you how to be a part of something.  At camp I have learned how to hear my voice alone and to hear many voices together.  One voice and all voices.”


Sing: This is the sound of One Voice”, by the Wailin’ Jennys. (Click to hear them sing!)

This is the sound of one voice

One spirit, one voice

The sound of one who has made a choice.

This is the sound of one voice, this is the sound of one voice.

This is the sound of voices two,

The sound of me singing with you,

Helping each other to make it through.

This is the sound of voices two, this is the sound of voice two.

This is the sound of voices three,

Singing together in harmony.

Surrendering to the mystery,

This is the sound of voices three, this is the sound of voices three.

This is the sound of all of us,

Singing with love and the will to trust.

Leave the rest behind, it will turn to dust,

This is the sound of all of us,

This is the sound of all of us.

This is the sound of one voice,

One people, one voice,

A song for every one of us.

This is the sound of one voice, this is the sound of one voice.


Final Words:

A mom wrote:

“I didn’t find Camp Betsey Cox.  My daughter did.  She took to the Internet from our tiny northern town at the age of eight, motivated by an inherent desire to find her tribe.  To find a place where she could live among a hundred girls from around the world, from cities big and villages small, with skin white, black and in between.  She chose a camp where she could organize her own day, explore her own wishes and eat wholesome food.  My daughter chose to sing and celebrate girls’ place int eh world from the morning wake up bell to lights out.”

Betsey Cox is a magical place where the same mom noticed that camp “helps grow a new global generation of strong resilient and capable women.”

Thanks to each and every one of you for your part in creating the magic!



Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen. Jubilate, jubilate, jubilate, Amen.






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