Who gets to share what meaning?
As a avid camp-goer (as evidenced by my introductory performance) I am the sharer of many symbols and rituals with my camp family. There is a very unique correlation that exists between people who attend camp and the traditions that survive generations of campers and counselors. The same songs are sung on the first and last nights of camp. We raise a flag in the morning and lower it before the sunset. People wear friendship bracelets. We sail sailboats that have an iconic sunfish logo, recognizable all over the lake by locals and camp veterans. And on the last night, children earn bandanas that are tied around their necks in honor of the hard work that they put in over their time at camp. All of it sounds so cliché and stereotypical to an external party, but to me and to the rest of camp, those symbols touch us in a way that nothing else ever could.
So to me, in my life, symbols and rituals link me to those people who care about the same things as I do. The members of my sorority know the same symbols that I know, the students at my school where I student teach all know the same school wide pledge—these “inner-circle” experiences hold us together like glue. Symbols gain importance through some other sort of meaningfulness. Symbols can relate to monetary value or athleticism (like the nike swoosh) or they can relate to a feeling or emotion (like the way I feel about camp symbols). Either way, people who share symbols are people who find value in the thing that the symbol represents.
Above is a picture of the sailboat that I mentioned. When anyone who hasn’t been to camp sees this, it is simply a sailboat. To those who share the experience of Camp Thunderbird, it means so much more. This sailboat represents the feeling of summertime and best friends and children to me.
From what we have discussed this week, symbols are substitutions of greater meanings. Symbols are all around us, from the UNC logo to the lines on the street, and they stand in for a long history. But to me, the greatest symbols are those that remind me of something larger that has impacted me emotionally.