Lost & Found & Grateful

  • In a typical summer, when I think of Lost & Found, I think of heaps of soggy, sun-faded towels that have seen better days, bathing suit bottoms, broken crocs, and the largest variety of water bottles you could ever imagine. I think about the favorite raincoat that gets traded in for an eventful rainy day stashed away in the memory banks for summers to come. I think about the battered sneakers that crossed the finish line during the Apache Relay carrying the captain beaming with pride and confidence. The broken eyeglasses that just barely made it through the summer but helped a first-time camper envision the next ten summers at her newfound home. Fans are lost and broken but replaced by water fights and runs through the sprinklers in the horseshoe. Scratched tennis racquets are found alongside a newly mastered serve. And then we think about this summer, and how those simple, magical camp moments didn’t come to be. How so much was lost during what is typically one of the most transformative times of the year.

    We ended this summer the same way we began it, walking through camp…slowly, intentionally, as if to savor this reminder of what the summer was and what it meant to us. It was painful, it was long, and it contributed to an emotional fatigue that we had never experienced before. A normal summer is absolutely exhausting…but those feelings are always wedged comfortably in between breathtaking moments of growth and independence and happiness.

    We are camp people. We pride ourselves in producing creative solutions to complex problems but this summer proved to be a challenge that we didn’t have the capacity, time, and in the end, the state government’s permission, to solve. We didn’t have the answers. We felt helpless, depleted and sad…all emotions we had never felt before in the context of camp. We mourned the loss of camp with all of you. We felt the hurt with our campers who wouldn’t experience their Color War break, the new campers whose anxious butterflies would have to wait another year and the immense feeling of disappointment when international staff planning to leave their lives behind to see why so many call camp the best place on earth learned that it just wasn’t in the cards for them this summer. The loss was extreme, but what was found during all of this we will be able to carry with us forever.

    We found patience. With ourselves and with this process. As a camp community we are just part of the way through one of the greatest demonstrations of patience most of us will experience. We have to wait 22 months to experience two but we will get there and we will get there together.

    We found resilience. Finding ways to identify the silver linings in all of this gave us things to look forward to. The flexibility, understanding and willingness of our campers and staff to move forward blew us away and inspired our own approaches.

    We found new camp friends. We spent more time on small group calls and Zooms with campers, staff and alumnae than we ever anticipated. It’s time I’m now grateful to have had and people I am so glad have come into my life.

    We found gratitude. We feel this one in our bones. Grateful for our health, our camp family and the positive outcomes from this very different summer.

    We found a renewed passion for our work. This summer was a labor of love…for all of us. If nothing else, making it through 2020 has proven to us that we can do anything and we want to do anything we can for this perfect place. We can’t wait to move on to bigger and brighter things.

    As we watched the sunset last night for the final time this summer, we didn’t just feel relief, disappointment and sadness. We felt hope, gratitude and for the first time, that pit in my stomach that has been there for months finally felt a little less like loss and a bit more like excitement as I thought about all we have to look forward to.

    There are a lot of looming questions, uncertainties and big decisions to be made. Your continued support, patience and trust means the world to us. If there is one thing we have found this summer, it’s a reminder of why we do the work that we do. The late nights, lost sleeps and occasional tears are all made worth it by the opportunity to spend the summer with your children, and while we had to wait a little bit longer than we anticipated to see them again, we will be standing at the gates in 2021 with arms wide open and permanent grins plastered across our faces.

    Enjoy your sunny summer day…and the fact that you don’t have mounds of filthy camp laundry to do.

    With SO much love and Pembroke Sisterhood,

    Becca & Amy

One response to “Lost & Found & Grateful”

  1. Lauren Steinberg says:

    Beautifully written! I can’t believe camp is over when it never really started. But it did start. And then it continued in a different way. Camp Pembroke will always continue in our hearts whether in person or from afar. We’ll continue to be wrapped up in each other for a lifetime. Thank you for making this strange summer a memorable one! XO

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