Among the wooded knolls and winding paths of Camp Jabberwocky, tiger lilies bloom in profusion. They line the wooden cabins in memory of former camper Katie Johnson, who died two years ago at age 15. “The tiger lily’s orange blossom really symbolizes Katie,” said camper Kristin Pachico, a friend of Katie’s. “She had glowing red hair, bright blue eyes, and a fiery spirit.”

Katie’s spirit was alive at the pottery and art show this Wednesday at Camp Jabberwocky. Campers and counselors donned bright straw hats, flowered dresses and colorful paper flowers. The show benefited the Katie Johnson Fellowship, which Camp Jabberwocky instituted in Katie’s honor as a way for campers to receive aid for their transportation to camp. As is true of many other campers, Katie lived in an institution and had difficulty getting the money to come each year.

On Wednesday afternoon sunlight gleamed across curving rows of pottery. Shiny glazed bowls and vases lined the tables. In the main room bright sunflower and beachcomber wreaths awaited the highest bidder in the silent auction. Visitors and Jabberwockians alike devoured gooey chocolate chip cookies and richly iced cupcakes. Campers and counselors held demonstrations of dancing, drama, computer techniques and other camp activities.

“We wanted the fellowship pottery sale to also be a way for the community to see what really goes on at camp. I know that many of our friends think this is a great place, but they don’t have any idea of how much campers accomplish here,” said Gillian Butchman, director of the adult Camp Jabberwocky.

Camper Heather Smith did an afternoon pottery demonstration. It is her fifth year as an adult camper and she emphasized her love of making pottery, a skill she had never attempted before her first camp. “I am shaping whatever I want with my hands,” Miss Smith said as she worked hand over hand with counselor Peter Halby.  “It is my own creation. I’m very critical of my work, but the thing I love about pottery is if you don’t like what you’ve made you can squish it up and start all over again,” she said. Miss Smith and Mr. Halby molded the clay into the shape of a bowl, the wet clay sliding through their fingers. “Katie loved pottery too,” Miss Smith added. “I was extremely close to her and she would have been so excited about everything that’s going on today. The fact that everybody is pulling together to do all this is just wonderful.”

Visitors fingered the intricate patterns of the pottery on the tables.  Many of the pieces were uniquely shaped by feet and hands. Campers who do not have mobility in their fingers often throw pots with their toes. Most of the pieces were simply for display, but Mrs. Butchman was surprised to find that many visitors were interested in buying work that wasn’t offered as part of the sale.

“We didn’t want it to seem like we were asking people to purchase imperfect pieces. I thought it would be sort of like begging, but as it turns out, people are finding the pieces very interesting. Pottery is a form of self-expression for a lot of campers,” Mrs. Butchman said.

On the stage, campers held brief dance performances. Deanne Gagne performed a modern dance piece from her wheelchair with counselor Julie Oliver. With delighted smiles they moved their arms in unison. “I wasn’t sure how it was going to come off, but it was fun,” said Miss Gagne later when she’d had a chance to catch her breath. “I love dancing and drama. It’s a way to express yourself.”

Counselor Johanna Ramero also teaches dance at Jabberwocky. She taught Katie for several years and she remembers working with her on the song Part of Your World from Disney’s The Little Mermaid.

“It was her favorite song. She used to make us listen to it every night before bed. The words were perfect for her,” Miss Ramero said, as she tried to recall them: “’I want to be where the people are. Ask them questions and get some answers. When’s it my turn? Wouldn’t I love to explore that world. Oh can’t you see? Someday I’ll be part of that world.’” Miss Ramero paused. “It’s very difficult for me to be here without her.”

In the computer center, camper Paul Remy sat typing an essay about Katie Johnson and the fellowship. Mr. Remy is known as one of the best writers at camp. He uses a headpointer to type his words, as the use of his hands is impaired by cerebral palsy. He typed his last sentence slowly: “We thought it was so unfair and cruel for God for taking her away before she could enjoy the good things on earth.”

As the last colorful etchings were sold and the results of the silent auction came in, campers and counselors gathered outside cabins or along the porches, finishing the refreshments and discussing the day’s activities. Beneath the cheer and excitement were solemn thoughts about the little girl who by all accounts could never keep a smile off her face.

A camper admired the tiger lilies on the road. “They grow best in bright sunlight and loose, fertile soil,” a visitor whispered. “After being planted, they grow from year to year with little care.”