There is comfort in coming home. A familiarity and a calm that comes over us as we recognize and reacquaint ourselves in a space like camp. The smell of the lake brings back memories of kayaking to “the island”, the taste of your first s’more of the season feels like a warm hug, and as the sun sets and the air cools, tucking away into bed surrounded by your bunkmates gives your body permission to exhale and relax. For some it’s immediate, but we know it can take some time and a supportive high five, and we are so lucky to have the counselors and Senior Staff ready and available to give those gentle nudges and words of encouragement as we all settle in.
Last night, sitting fireside with our 7th-8th graders, Raven our Community Care Director, turned to me and said “I don’t know how else to describe camp other than to say I feel like I came home.” Brand new to Camp Pembroke, thousands of miles away from home, and still, she felt the same way as our campers and staff. Home.
The first few days are filled with new friends, discovering new activities, and even learning new wonderful things about ourselves, no matter your age. Campers master new skills, discover their own personal strength and learn to recognize the power of their kindness to others. It exists in every bunk and at every activity, this sense of belonging to something greater than yourself and a connection that doesn’t stop.
Hearing the shrieking screams of campers yelling and cheering for their counselors, who they had only met hours before, as they participated in Staff Skits on Wednesday night, reminds us of the speed of connection. Heloise’s response to “what was your favorite part of the day”… “everything” reminds us of the depth of that connection, and the never-ending smiling faces and waves as I drive through camp in the golfcart speak to the frequency of it. Camp is a great place, made even better by the incredible people here, and we are so lucky to share our home.
The jitters when the calendar turns to June are often inexplicable. Planning staff trainings, coordinating food deliveries, ensuring we have the right number of beds, dressers and ladders in all of the bunks, Target runs to stock our program office and everything in between. Every task and to-do item gets us one step closer to Opening Day. For the last three weeks we’ve been welcoming waves of staff to camp and on Wednesday we finally got to welcome our campers. Our family is complete. We now get to shift our focus to ensuring that every camper, counselor and staff member feel supported and are equipped to take on every magical moment or challenge that comes their way over the next 3.5 or 7 weeks. And now, as your camper enjoys their first Pizza Picnic lunch and waits for their tie dye to dry, we prepare for our first Shabbat of the summer, a chance to rest, reflect and mark the moment we’ve been waiting for all year. We are home, with our summer family, and while we know your home might be a little quieter this Shabbat, we want to thank you for sharing your children with us, we couldn’t be more grateful. They are happy, they are loved, and they are home.
Becca and Amy
Co-Directors, Camp Pembroke