With All Of You

  • Summers at camp have always been marked by certain milestones and moments. Over the last 20 summers, while the routine has changed, the year year has always been met with a certain pattern. As a camper, each Spring, I would feel the fresh air and know that at any moment, we’d be pulling down the camp duffels from the attic. As the weather warmed and countdown continued, I’d spend the next month planning Shabbat outfits, banquet dresses and coordinating costumes until I got that official June 1st nod from my mom to let me know I was allowed to begin labeling and packing.

     

    In recent years, it was the first trip to Terminal E at Boston Logan to greet our support staff, arriving from countries all over the world, that marked the true beginning of our summer. I found such energy and excitement in calling out their names from the list I grasped tightly for hours as I waited for them to arrive. Meeting their uncertain, brave and exhausted eyes with a smile, and offering a gentle nod to confirm that they were, in fact, about to begin one of their greatest adventures. The docks would go out. We would welcome our overseas counselors from Israel, the United Kingdom, Australia and South Africa. The first Sysco delivery would arrive. A truckload of crushed stone to line the perimeter of the Horseshoe would be dumped on the road.  Our Head Counselors, Nurses, Department Heads, Office Staff and Programming Team would pull into camp, bringing with them their passion and ideas. The waterski boat would be delivered and the ropes course would be inspected. The staff who had spent their years in the Horseshoe with us would come sprinting through the gates of camp, arms wide open, ready for the next “best summer ever”. And then, just when we felt like it was the best it could be…Opening Day would come along, and we would realize from the pain in our cheeks and the dampness in our eyes, that this was it. This was the moment. This was what we waited for every single year. Those smaller moments would suddenly seem insignificant compared to what we were about to experience.

     

    Today would have been filled with courage, and hugs, and laughter, and the purest kind of joy that you really only find in the bunks of an overnight camp and on the benches of the Dining Hall. Today would have been the first time some parents experienced an empty nest all while knowing that their children were about to learn, and fall, and grow surrounded by newfound friends and adoring counselors. First-time staff would realize within moments of their campers arrival that they were ready and how incredibly capable they are. And a new camper would discover that the rumors are true, grilled cheese truly does taste better at camp. We would have gotten to watch as 10 months of brainstorming and collaborating was set into motion as summer 2020 began, and most importantly, we would have been with all of you. Our end goal, the icing on the cake, the grand finale, is always to be with all of you.

     

    This morning we took the opportunity to walk around camp a little after sunrise to make sure everything was in place, just as we would if we were welcoming our 250 campers today. We walked a little bit more slowly, with more intention in every step. From the lawn in front of the Lodge where we would have watched the Tsfat egg toss during College Night, to the pebbles at the foot of Bunk 15 that always seem to loosen and slide under each step, to the sound of a slamming screen door. We glanced up to notice the Haksheevu speakers that would remain silent this summer and Gum Rock that has almost been completely engulfed by the surrounding bushes. The Waterfront doesn’t look the same, the Gym felt empty and the calm in the Dining Hall was unbearable. We spent some time on the Hill, where our Y’Rush campers would have reveled in their moments of leadership and sisterhood. An empty Pine Grove, a still Rec Hall.

     

    The quiet is painful, but the silence says so much as we think about how lucky we are to have something so wonderful. We hope this summer we can all take the opportunity to approach life, and camp, and friendships, and family with a little extra love and patience. This summer is an opportunity to exercise resilience and flexibility. A chance to reconnect with campers and staff and reach out to the newest members of our camp family.

     

    While summer 2020 feels unrecognizable, and today is a little extra painful, just know that we have already begun counting down to when we can be back here, side by side, arm and arm, with just the gravel road behind us and an entire perfect summer ahead. What we’ve lost in the absence of a summer at camp, pales in comparison to what we have as a sisterhood now and what we’ll experience in the summers to come. We will get through these next two months. We’ll create a new rhythm and tempo filled with FaceTimes with friends, Zooms with your bunk and quality time with your family. For us, this is a summer to pause, take a moment to recognize how lucky we are, and move forward with our hearts filled with gratitude and love for the best people and place in the world.

    With so much love & Pembroke sisterhood,

    Becca & Amy

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