Is That My Campers Elbow?

  • Is That My Camper’s Elbow?

    I clearly remember the “aha” moment of realizing how important it was for parents to “see” their child during their time at camp. It was my fourth summer on staff at Pembroke, and I was at home on my day off. I hadn’t yet had the chance to see all of the pictures being taken every day, and I decided to log into my mom’s account to take a look. When I clicked on her “favorites” album, I discovered an album filled with smiling photos of campers and counselors. Many of were me, and even more were not. My mom had scoured the site and favorited any photo of someone in a staff shirt with a blonde ponytail. Keep in mind, I could speak to my mom every day during my free periods and nights out, but she still lived for any possible sighting of me, even when it wasn’t me, in my happy place.

    Camp Pembroke

    Returning parents: you’ve all done it…caught a glimpse of a body part and you swear it belongs to your child. But now you’re worried, is that elbow attached to a happy camper? You’ve seen a picture of your daughter and it “looks hot out but she’s wearing her hair down, is she ok?” You haven’t seen a photo of her in over 5 hours, is she still there? All campers are happy and accounted for.

    It is a difficult transition to go from seeing your children every day, texting them in between class and hearing their voice regularly, to depending on photo uploads and social media sites. You’ll find yourself sifting through an endless stream of photos in search of any indication that you camper is happy and thriving. Your kids have it easy…they are dropped off on Opening Day and are immediately consumed by camp; the activities, the spirit, the excitement. Their transitions are seamless and successful as they become integrated into their bunk and become part of the camp community. It’s the parents they leave behind that are often left feeling like they are still adjusting to what it really means to unplug.

    To ease the process we want you to know what to expect from us and from your campers.

    When will you hear from your camper? Let’s preface this by saying “No news is good news”. You may find you’re receiving letters with a few words scribbled across it. This is a good thing—we keep the kids busy! Our days are filled with activities, games and fun. Each camper is required to write home three times a week. They hand us their stamped and addressed letters and we check their name off. Snail mail can be slow, especially in our small-town local post office, so it may take a little longer to receive that first letter. You may get a letter that isn’t all sunshine and butterflies, and that’s ok too. Your daughter has been away from the comfort and consistency of home, maybe even for the first time, and so much can happen in a day. Keep in mind, that moment of frustration or of missing you, happened 3 to 4, maybe even 5 (thank you USPS!) days ago. Feel free to check in, and remember email is always the easiest way to ensure the quickest response!

    When will you hear from us? Every Friday, as we join together at camp to celebrate Shabbat and reflect on another week in the books, we will post a Newsletter through your CampInTouch account under Online Community. You’ll read about the trips we went on, evening activities we participated in, special meals and even a weather report. We want to keep you in the loop, so this is where you can expect the no-nonsense, play-by-play of our week.

    All parents of new campers will get a phone call from your Head Counselor within the first few days telling you all about your camper’s experience so far. You’ll find out who their first friend is, what their favorite activity is so far; all that good stuff. Our counselors are incredible at integrating their campers into a warm, welcoming, bunk dynamic and you’ll read all about it in the postcard they write to you about your child after the first week.

    When will you see your camper? We will upload photos of smiling faces three times a week. Our busy schedules, and unpredictable internet, don’t always allow us to be consistent in what days we post, but we hope you take comfort in knowing you will see photos a minimum of three times throughout the week, and when you don’t, it means we are out and about with your kids, loving every second of our time with them.

    Sometimes parents have asked if taking so many photos is intrusive to their experience. This is something we are always thinking about…how do we capture the fun while still preserving the specialness of camp and leaving room for all the stories you’ll hear when you pick them up. This is why you’ll see a combination of candids, close-ups and far away frames of what’s going on. Please keep in mind that some girls are camera shy, others are just too caught up in their activities to smile for the camera, while some campers will follow our photographers around jumping into every kodak moment. We live in such a media-focused world, and while we embrace the opportunity to keep our families engaged, we try to spread that across a few different mediums.

    That brings us to our next point: Facebook and Instagram! You love Camp Pembroke, now “like” the Camp Pembroke Facebook Page and follow us on Instagram (@camppembroke). Connecting with us on social media will truly be the best place to find out what’s happening as it happens. Our focus is on the campers, so we may not be constantly posting, but this will be the place for the most frequent, real-time updates, and videos. Log on and tune in to our exciting online community!

    At Camp Pembroke we take pride in our incredibly inclusive, tight-knit community and we want our parents to experience that as well. We’ll keep you updated with all of the excitement at camp, and we hope that you find the blogs, newsletters and Facebook/Instagram updates informative in helping you feel connected. We know it is difficult to be away from your children for extended periods of time. We want to thank you for sharing your children with us for the summer; you are giving them the best possible gift…the gift of Jewish summer camp. Now sit back, relax and let us give your camper the best summer of their lives!

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