CTY Traditions

By Aaron Feldman, AKA Ferret

It's traditional at Lancaster to hold a CTY Traditions Discussion Group during the first week of a session, as a way for veterans to explain to squirrels the meaning of a variety of traditions. I, finally a nomore, attended the discussion group, feeling it was my turn to impart my wisdom on a younger generation.

A healthy discussion ensued, and one of the skeins of the discussion was about how traditions were born. It was discussed the way the bathrobe tradition was created, and then the explanation from the Hitchhiker's Guide was created later on. One of the younger attendees, Dan Whitener, a little bored, had assembled a pile of nearby sticks. He asked if he could somehow turn this into a tradition. We were fascinated with the challenge, and decided to see if we could. (at this point in the story, I usually am interrupted by several people telling me that they had conceived of the same idea, of making a pile of sticks into a tradition, at the same time. As Dan Whitener's proposal was the one that actually spawned the tradition, I give him credit)

So given this start- a pile of sticks on the ground, we determined to create a tradition. Someone commented that the pile of sticks reminded them of a bonfire. Of course, fires aren't legal at CTY, but what's to stop us from having a fire-less bonfire, someone asked? Complete with ritual chanting and other typical rites performed by a bonfire. It sounded like a good idea. We were agreed, and after a good deal of haggling, it was decided to label this activity a "Bon" and the act of doing it was "Bon-age".

Now came the difficult question of how to justify this new tradition. I had brought along my massive omnibus edition of the Hitchhiker's Guide and searched until I found the relevant passage, at the beginning of Life, the Universe and Everything, which described the committee to create fire. They had a look in their eyes that said "how about next tuesday", since they had had little success in creating a fire. So it was settled. The Bon had to be on a Tuesday.

Next was the part where I played the largest role. I took the idea to administration, first an RA, then an SRA, and finally the Program Coordinator. I found, to my delight, that Tuesday one of the activity periods featured the activity "Wood Gathering". One of the nightly announcements said that Wood Gathering, with Joel as the RA and Aaron Feldman (me) administrating, would take place that day to prepare for the Bon Tuesday night. I was overjoyed!

I was even happier the next day to find that some 50+ people, some of whom I'd never met, had signed up to help gather wood from all over the quad. I read them the passage from Hitchhiker's Guide and sent everyone off to gather wood, which was placed on the concrete slab circle right in front of the cafeteria. By the time the hour was over, we had put together a remarkably large pile of sticks.

That night, at quad time, they had karaoke. Kids were invited to participate. Many did. They also had the Bon, which involved us tossing glowsticks onto the pile of sticks and dancing around chanting "42" "No More Chanting", and other similar things. It was incredibly entertaining. People have pictures of it somewhere. I don't know where.

The Bon was a lot of fun, but the most remarkable thing was that far more people participated in Wood Gathering than in the Bon. Go figure. CTY is odd like that.