We All Love Camp
Our guest blog this week comes from Missy Sachs-Kohen, the trainee division head. Missy is one of those people who everyone and their moms know (literally). Starting as a camper in 1979, a CIT in 1984, an a counselor, unit leader, and programming specialist since then, Missy knows everything about camp, including being a parent of one of our youngest campers, Noa.
Camp people have this amazing way of showing up when least expected. And because we share this incredible bond called “Camp Louise” the foundation of our friendship is already built. We spend days, weeks, and if we’re really lucky 2 months, together. We eat together. We play sports together. We create and fashion things of beauty together. And on Shabbat, well, you know the rest…
And those days that we spend together feel like minutes. Before I’m ready, it’s time to go home. Now, when I was a kid at camp (ok, if we’re being honest, long after I was a kid too), it was devastating to leave camp. Camp was the place where I was me – whatever that me was, and that was ok. It felt great to be me at Camp Louise. And too soon it was over. The next 10 months would drag by, until I could get back to the mountain. Each summer I would meet new people, and those people would become my friends immediately. And then we were laughing and bonding and growing together and life was good. We would talk about our pasts – where we went to school, what our Bat Mitzvahs were like, who our friends were at home – and we would talk about our futures – what we wanted to be when we grew up, where we would live, and how we would send our kids to camp together so they could have the same life-changing experiences that we were having too.
It’s funny – I’m not sure what I said I was going to do with my life, but I’m positive I had no idea I’d be a social worker during the school year, working at an alternative high school for kids with behavior issues. And it’s funny because I KNOW that I believed I was going to be living somewhere, anywhere, other than Baltimore. But I’m happy here. I guess I kinda figured I’d go off and make my own way in the world. But what I found was that I WANTED to be close to my family – my family by birth and my family by camp. These friends that I met so many years ago, and these friends that I met just recently are part of the reason why I moved back to Baltimore. I love being able to meet them for coffee, to watch our kids play together and to be part of the local camp community.
The best part of all this is that my kids DO go to camp. And even more amazing is that they go to camp with the kids of my friends, just like we planned. As much as we talked about this, I’m not sure I knew what it would feel like to watch my daughter folk dance on a Friday night with her CIT. Or to watch my son run around with his friends at the camp dances. And when I see those things, I can’t believe this is my real life. How did I get so lucky?
These friends, these people whose life paths crossed mine in 21719, they are still my friends. And some of us are still at (or back at) camp. We’ve all returned to camp from various places and for various reasons. Some of us are lucky enough to work there all summer (me 🙂 ). Some volunteer for a day or two whenever they can. Some are parents of campers who will be starting camp for the first time this summer. And these people, these people who have always loved camp as much as I have (though there was a time I did not think that was possible), these people are still amazing. These people are still funny and compassionate and wise and loving and kind and supportive and wonderful. Our bond has grown as we’ve matured (notice I didn’t say “as we’ve gotten older”). And since I’m lucky to work at camp currently, I get to meet a whole new generation of camp people and to add to my wonderful camp family. Because at camp, age is immaterial – we are all there because we LOVE camp.
We can appreciate the traditions and history of camp as well as the changes that are inevitable. We walk into camp and notice that some things are different than they once were or that there are Hebrew signs on the buildings or CIT murals on various walls throughout camp. But something is the same. I’m not sure if it’s the mountain air, but there’s a spirit that lives at camp. And that spirit is still alive and well. For everyone who’s lucky enough to be on the mountain in 21719, whether it’s to work there, volunteer there, or enjoy a weekend at Circle Reunion, that spirit is there. And that spirit is what connects us all, no matter for how long we attended camp, or how long ago we were there. It’s why when we are with our camp friends, it’s as if no time has passed. It’s why we still get that excited and nervous feeling when we turn onto Pen Mar road. It’s why the legacy of camp has continued for generations and will continue for generations to come.