It Takes a Village to Raise a Camper

  • The father of a camper once said to me, “camp is my child’s third parent”. In just a simple phrase that dad put words to the weight of what we do here at camp. An immense responsibility that carries heavy meaning, intention and incredible power. It is those three things we experience on a regular basis that make our work each summer so impactful and this summer, after a year filled with loss, isolation and challenge, we hold the space for those things with even more thoughtfulness and care. At camp we share clothes, we share stories and laughs, and bed time embraces after a long day, but most of all we share a love for a sacred place and the combined responsibility and commitment to ensuring our community is everything we all want and need it to be.

    In just ten days I’ve witnessed campers gently offer a hand to hold during a loud song session, counselors providing the safe space for a camper to share a personal story privately and department heads giving hugs and high fives out to eager campers during their activities. Our campers have shared their artistic vision as every bunk has been given the chance to help us add color to our Arts & Crafts building. I’ve listened to our first ever Pembroke Podcast (and we can’t wait to share with you!) and all of our campers amazing suggestions and ideas. One counselor bluntly sharing with her Head Counselor that a camper had already made a permanent imprint on her heart…there simply was no turning back. Friendships continue to grow, as do the stacks of symbolic bracelets on each of our wrists. This summer is a powerful one. A summer for stumbling and failing and learning and growing. This summer is a launching point back into normalcy and the first step to reaching that is being at camp and feeling safe, secure and knowing you have an entire community of supportive women behind you.

    From the one-on-one conversations we all got to have with individual campers as we sautéed vegetables and constructed the perfect omelet during omelet bar to the collaboration (and quite a bit of problem solving, might we add!) between bunkmates during the planning and choreographing of the age group dance for MTV Night. Consulting with a seasoned camper about the best combination of flavors during a visit from the Kona Ice truck and white across the Athletics field some of our youngest were encouraging a new friend as they scaled the giant water slide only to be met by the cheers of pride from the rest of the group at the bottom. Campers shared dry sweatshirts with one another as the weather stayed wet and laundry day approached and bigs and littles united and celebrated their brand new friendship together with pure joy and excitement.

    This morning our oldest group, Bat Yam, made their own breakfast in the Staff House.  Tonight we celebrate Pride Shabbat as a reminder of the safe space we continue to strive to provide every camp. Tomorrow we cross our fingers for a sunny day as we celebrate the 13th summer of our Waterfront Head and beloved counselor, Sabrina Weiner. Her commitment to camp and to the collective happiness of our community is just one example of the investment our staff have made to provide an unforgettable summer each and every year. And next week, we continue to play, and get dirty, and explore, and have fun and build the scaffolding our campers need to thrive for the other ten months of their year.

    The third parent is not simply camp. It’s not me or Amy or any specific staff member or camp friend. The collective momentum of moments of support that exist in every nook and cranny of a camper’s day provide an unshakeable, unexplainable, unparalleled opportunity for self-discovery and growth that is not easy replicated anywhere else. You may get a letter home written during a sad moment at rest hour or catch a glimpse of your child in the background of a photo and you’re just not sure of what to think of it. But we can say- with the utmost confidence- that in between those moments there are milestones, and following that experience of uncertainty there is understanding, and awe, and personal growth. Camp is not perfect, but what we are reminded of each and every day is that your child is…in their own perfectly imperfect way and we love having the opportunity to spend the summer getting to know them.

    Shabbat shalom Camp Pembroke,

    Becca & Amy

2 responses to “It Takes a Village to Raise a Camper”

  1. Erika says:

    I’m so touched by this beautiful blog and kind of wishing that I had my own camp experience. Our girls are so lucky to have you guys.

  2. Michelle Welford says:

    Beautifully said!

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