A Little Bit of History
The Gypsy week traditions date back to the early days of Sweyolakan when all of camp would embark on a Voyager-style trip during the last week of camp. Each unit would choose colors for their traveling band of gypsies. They would wear these colors as they traveled around the lake, making the gypsy bands able to identify one another. While on their trip, each gypsy band would write a new song and revive an old song to present to camp on their return. The night that the groups returned to camp, Gypsy Banquet was held at midnight. This event was a big celebration and the culmination of the camping season. Each group also shared their gypsy band songs during the banquet.
Over the years, the traditions have evolved somewhat due to new conditions at camp, such as the high number of younger campers. The banquet is no longer held at midnight, however, the spirit of the week has been maintained, as well as many of the traditions. Below is an outline of the special features of the week, as well as the preparations they require.
Gypsy Week Today
We do not refer to our living groups as units during Gypsy week, but rather as Gypsy bands. Each gypsy band has two colors and a theme/mascot. For example, Echo might be referred to as the Blue and Silver Shooting Stars for the week. Throughout the week, everyone has the option of wearing either their band colors or blues and whites to dinner. The exception is Gypsy Banquet, when everyone is required to wear dress blues and whites.
As mentioned earlier, each unit writes a Gypsy band song. This generally consists of writing new words to an already existing tune, although it is certainly fine to write an entirely new song. Every Little Camper, Look Back and Remember, and Summertime Dreams are all examples of past band songs.
In addition to writing a new song, each unit is to revive a song which has not been sung at camp for at least the past year. Revival songs can be found from many sources, such as the reunion song books and past staff members. The band song and revival songs are presented at Step Singing, which is described below.
On the last full day of Gypsy week, each unit meets on main beach at the end of Me-Time for Step Singing. Campers and staff dress in their band colors and each gypsy band will be performing their band song and revival song in front of the whole camp. The order is determined by Wang-ho prior to beginning. Each group performs in the Dining Hall (McCornack Hall). The winning band song is announced at Gypsy Banquet.