The Last Leg

  • Whistles, balloons, confetti cannons…cue the tears and screams. There’s something inexplicable about the build up and excitement about Color War and parallels between those three days and a camper’s entire camp career are striking. For most, they’ve waited a session or maybe all summer for Color War to Break, but for our Y’Rush campers, they’ve been waiting their entire lives at camp for that very moment. The moment is filled with a mixture of emotions, from excitement to nerves and back again, the adrenaline rushes through your blood stream. The energy is palpable, the tradition and beauty in it all is undeniable.

    And just like that, we launch into the three days of competition with the first event, Digging for the Heart. As our campers gather around the beach and Y’Rush begins digging furiously, throwing sand in every direction as they dig to find a half of the blue and gold heart. Just like a camper’s first time away, they excitedly go through the motions without a true understanding of what they’re looking for…until they find it. An old piece of blue or yellow wood, or for many of our campers, a second home, sense of belonging, a feeling of normalcy and independence.  You dig deep at camp until you find that connection.

    Rope Burn demonstrated the same openness to try something new that our new staff approach the summer with and the perseverance that Jordana showed throughout the event was the exact commitment we see from those dedicated counselors. It takes grit to succeed and burn that rope, and it takes those same qualities to approach each day at camp as an opportunity to make it the best. Camp lights a fire within all of us.

    Allie focused intently and paced around camp singing rounds of “Although Time Spins A Web” as she timed out 45 minutes and led her team during Time Hunt. For three days you cheer, scream and yell as your bunkmates and teammates compete and run and swim as hard as they can. Your captains understand the angst you feel as you patiently wait for #45 in the Amazing Race relay to come meet you at the Flag Pole so you can three-legged race through the Athletics Field.

    We watched as our campers silently and seriously enter the Gym to present their team alma maters, passionately scream their cheers and proudly display their team posters. Color War Sing brings out the best in our campers. The foundation of competition tends to set the scene for compassion and camaraderie as campers find their voice within their teams and the role that allows them to shine most.

    I love every moment and often say it’s the best three days of the year, just like my three months spent here are my most beloved. The anticipation and build-up behind it all contributes to the relief and pride our campers feel when the final song is sung and Y’Rush leads camp in rejoining as one complete community. It’s that moment that I always feel that impending end of camp.

    There’s a certain feeling to it all. A pit your stomach that you can only describe as an uneasy sense of gratitude. We know how lucky we are to be here, but there’s an almost desperate desire for it to last just a little bit longer. A sort of helplessness that no early morning sunrise or late night adventure can drag out the time we have here, no matter how hard we try…and so we drag our feet to try to slow it all down. So much of what we do has an overwhelming sense of finality to it. Today was our last pizza lunch and a Staff Meeting filled with details of clean up and closing never feels right. Tonight is the final Shabbat in the Pine Grove, the last time we’ll walk arm and arm to services with your closest friends. Monday we’ll savor a camp grilled cheese for the last time until next summer. One more bunk night. A couple more evening activities. A few more cartwheels on Masada during Free Play. And while we are limited in the specific moments that remain in summer 2021, and our eyes may be wet as we look back on the incredible memories and friendships we’ve established over these last weeks, there’s an odd sense of comfort in knowing you’re not alone in how you feel.

    So here we are…Just like the Last Leg of the Amazing Race, we are all feeling an overwhelming sense of disbelief that we are about to cross that finish line. The good news? On the other side of that toilet paper finish line you’ll always find your Pembroke team cheering for you with open arms and a cold Gatorade. Be strong, be brave, and always find your way back – we can’t wait to welcome you back home!

    Shabbat shalom,

    Becca & Amy

3 responses to “The Last Leg”

  1. Sandy Nagler says:

    Tears in my eyes as I read this. Thank you for a wonderful summer & for all your hard work prior. Shabbat Shalom Camp Pembroke!

  2. Marjut Herzog says:

    Beautifully written. I too am moved to Tears. I know how hard the counselors worked to make this year special and how much it means for our daughters who are new counselors to ensure the girls are happy and safe; the traditions are kept and the sisterhood is nourished for another summer. Thank you. My first session daughter came home renewed and happier than she had been in a year.

  3. Sara Pouladian says:

    This made me cry! I am so thankful for the wonderful summer experience and second home for Ava! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

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