Sights, Sounds & Sisterhood

  • Since 1998, when I first pulled up to the horseshoe, Dad’s station wagon packed to the brim with my cardboard drawers, denim husband backrest and way too many of my brothers hand-me-down Umbro shorts, I’ve been a part of something great. I can still close my eyes and picture the first camper to approach me and the first counselor to smile at me. I remember feeling that perfect combination of cautious excitement and eager anxiety. And I can still remember the sound of my parents pulling away from the bunk and the rumble of the gravel moving beneath their now empty car. It was the sound of newfound independence, of uncertainty and enthusiasm, but what I didn’t know was that I would quickly learn that this was the sound that would mark the beginning of my greatest adventure, one that has brought me more life lessons, meaningful relationships and the most rewarding career I could have ever hoped for. I’m so lucky to spend my days in a place where every conversation I have, every activity I get the opportunity to join, and every camper I get to spend time with, is a reminder of how special our sisterhood is.

    We see it at every department area, and we hear it around every corner. We are small but mighty, and there’s nothing that makes me love this place more than the fact that every inch of camp, every bench and table, every sunset over Lake Oldham, every tie dye hanging to dry, and every tennis ball lost in the woods, and dip in the pool, and every boat and kayak and canoe and paddleboard, and every camper at Pembroke, tells a story. One of adventure and friends and countless late nights filled with both of those things. Every inch of this place continues to leave me in awe, and I know how lucky I am to be able to experience so many perfect little moments in this perfect little place with your most prized possession. This week was no exception and the little moments were book ended with big activities and trips. We saw the moments and heard the stories, all shared in the context of friendship, with an overarching theme of kindness, and with just the perfect amount of fun.

    I heard encouragement while Tel Aviv-Tiberias spent an unmatched afternoon at TreeTop Adventures filled with overcoming fears and supporting friends. As I conquered my own self-doubt and uncertainties and tackled one of the intermediate courses, I witnessed campers clapping for one another, hugging and smiling as they yelled the names of their bunkmates. The course was echoing with the sounds of “You can do it!”, “just one step at a time”, and “I’m so proud of you!”. It was a moment where your age didn’t matter and campers supported one another and their counselors regardless of their ability. My favorite moment of the day was when Mollie took the time in the middle of her own obstacle to help me. My fear was evident by the screams, shaky knees and desperate pleas for it to end. As I approached my first zip-line, where I was responsible for clipping myself in and setting up my harness and carabiners, Mollie took the time to pause on the platform below, walk me through what I needed to do and then with confidence she assured me “you’re all set now, go when you’re ready, you got this”. She’s 12 years old. TWELVE, and I couldn’t have done it without her.

    I saw inclusion. Campers pulling in surrounding friends as they posed for photos, insisting a picture wouldn’t be complete without them. Lizzie urging two groups to make their fairy houses in Nature class together so that no one would be left out. Eilat Dimona’s song session on the bus home from Bauercrest that couldn’t end until everyone had a turn during the call and repeat songs. I saw tradition as counselors taught new cheers and old favorites during a thunderstorm in the Dining Hall. I heard courage and my eyes filled with tears as we watched Samantha perform her song “Hideaway” about her favorite safe place, camp, in front of our entire community last Friday evening. I saw friendship as we said teary goodbyes to our two-week campers on Tuesday and as our Upper Campers returned from their overnight trips with small gifts for their little sisters. I heard growth as Haifa Ashdod ensured that every single one of them made it through the Lemon Squeezer on their trip to North Conway. I saw teamwork while Tsfat took it upon themselves to form an assembly line to unload their bags after they arrived in Nantucket.

    Every day we hear it and every day we see it, and when we weave those stories together, that’s when we feel it. The sisterhood that exists here is unparalleled, and I often find myself at a loss for words in trying to describe it. The strength of our camp family is elevated by the smaller connections we make. Our campers get high fives from their swim instructor each time they arrive at the pool, a warm smile from the older camper at their mixed table, and they build camaraderie with the other bunks in their age group. In no other place in the world do girls have the chance to feel they belong, in so many places, with so many people, over the course of just one day. That builds confidence and self-esteem and at the end of all of this, that’s why we’re here. Camp works because we are invested in making it work. Our campers have the chance to wake up each morning next to their best friends, take risks, make memories, and be their best selves – all while tucked under the blanket of knowing it was their parents who sent them there, the people who love them most.

    I start every morning at camp with the sound of the haksheevu machine waking us up and the sight of happy campers wiping the sleep from their eyes, and I end each day saying goodnight to our committed staff as they sign in for the night and share stories of their day. I’m so grateful for the Pembroke sisterhood and for the opportunity to be able to share that with all of you.

    Shabbat shalom!



One response to “Sights, Sounds & Sisterhood”

  1. Anne-Marie Reinstein says:

    This is such a lovely post. As I read it, I imagine my own daughter who is at camp now doing all of these things and feeling all of these emotions. I hope and believe she will be grateful for the Pembroke sisterhood years from now too.

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