By Emma Pure

Every year, we kick off our season with a glamp-orous bash, welcoming guests of the hotel and community members alike to join us around the campfire. Our intention is simple: to celebrate the wonderment of being outside and alive in our bodies. We express this in various ways: a pie carousel that spins with an array of homemade flavors, a firelighting ceremony, hot air balloon rides and whimsical face painting. Music is in order, and we try to host our favorite dance-worthy acts. This year we asked our Camp Host, Emma Pure (I know, amazing name, right?), to cover the event with her knack for writing and photography. Below is a taste of how we heralded the 2016 season.

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On the last night of May, Ithacans from all paths of life gathered under our twinkle lights to celebrate the successful beginning of the Firelight Camps 2016 season. The warm evening air was alive with excitement and summer joy, accompanied by good food, live music, and whimsical face paint- all locally sourced, of course!

The crowd danced to the funky tunes of the popular soul/R&B group, The Jeff Love Band, with local drinks in hand, served by camp hosts right at the bar in our bustling lobby tent. Locals mingled with our Firelight Camps guests, as well as the owners and camp staff, enjoying the lively music and hearty food as the sun began to sink behind the trees.

The line was long for homemade wood-fired pizza, served fresh with a variety of toppings, made by local duo and pizza extraordinaire, The Rusty Oven. The pizzas were delectably made, topped with fresh tomatoes, garlic, asparagus, chives, and radishes, to name a few. At Firelight we support all things local, and this event was a perfect blend of delicious goodies, music, and community all born right here in our beautiful Finger Lakes region. It only seemed fitting to be surrounded by local flavor as we celebrated our growing Firelight community, the sky turning to pink and purple, and the next phase of the night beginning.

As the sun sank lower in the sky, the music paused and people gathered around a few experts from Primitive Pursuits, a local nature education organization dedicated to teaching young people and adults necessary wilderness skills. Upon instruction from the skilled leaders, the crowd learned how to make a giant bow drill, a natural and ancient method used for starting fires.

This method usually can be done with one small bow drill made and used by one person, but for the purpose of this demonstration our friends from Primitive Pursuits brought out a large bow drill, which could only be operated by the teamwork of the crowd. With ten eager participants lined up holding the rope on either side of the giant bow, they began to push and pull against the wood, eventually creating enough friction for a tiny coal to be produced. Placed on a bundle of tinder and passed around the circle to be breathed into, the bundle became a flame that was placed into our stone fire pit and grew into a beautiful roaring fire. (Primitive Pursuits wilderness immersion programs are so aligned with what we do at Firelight Camps, that we donated 25% of our sales from the evening to support them!)

Local artist Ryan Curtis made guests feel radiant as he painted our faces and bodies with unique and mystical patterns, accompanied by incense and whispered words of wisdom. Ryan’s art symbolizes all that Firelight Camps encompasses, and having him be a part of this special night was just another magical touch to a beautiful evening.  

The event wrapped up as the last rays of light faded into a velvety blue and the stars began to dot the darkening sky. The fire continued to burn steadily as guests headed back to their warm tents and locals toted their sleepy toddlers and worn out dancing bodies to their cars. The fire light bounced off the lobby tent and the crickets began their nighttime song as everyone wound down from yet another successful and beautiful night at Firelight Camps. This was just the first of many Firelight Live Tuesdays, where people will come to gather around a crackling campfire, drink wine, roast s’mores and enjoy the simple pleasures of summertime in Ithaca. 

As a camp host at Firelight Camps this summer, I am feeling infinitely grateful to be part of a place that fosters such a joyous and loving community, surrounded by people who show nothing but support for all that is sustainable, beautiful, and local.  Cheers, to a summer filled with an abundance of these things! 

Visit us on Facebook for more pictures from our 2014 Inauguration Party and 2016 Opening Party.

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