We could have never expected the impact that two alumnae would have on our camp community in just one week. Two people, one very different generation at camp, seven days and an undeniable mark has been left in their footsteps. Their energy, their engagement and their pure love for this place embraced our entire community in what felt like one huge hug, and we wish it never had to end…
Camp Pembroke is the SAME but DIFFERENT, just like every day of our lives. We (Lynnie Walder CA ’79 and Amy Granoff Rohald CA ’77), had the immense pleasure of spending a week at camp. Some of the buildings have changed; there is now a pool and a gym, there are bathrooms in the bunks and a little more table hopping in the Dining Hall, but the campers are the same. The constant of it all? The Pembroke MAGIC. Walk into camp, pause and there is no denying the feel of camp…it is the MAGIC running through your body as you walk through the Horseshoe and look at the rafters in each bunk.
One of the campers asked if we were sad to see all the changes. Sad?!?! No way!! We told her that the physical things at camp may change but our camp love and friendship is forever – we are no different than each bunk mate at camp, whether it is 1971 or 2023. Over dinner we discussed how a place that we spent only a small portion of our lives at could have such a strong hold on us is impossible to put words to.
We came to camp to share skills and ways to work with your hands, but we learned more than we ever could have anticipated. In our wood-working class, the intention was for us to teach the campers how to…Every camper said they didn’t want the help but would rather figure it out on their own. They kept us in the loop by adding that if they needed help, they’d let us know! This is what we were aiming for and before we even started, the campers brought their confidence and curiosity to the wood-working table and taught us to allow them to figure it out. They showed us determination and grit.
After the lower camp buses rolled in after a long play day at Bauercrest, we were told that it was fun but the boys have cooties. They reminded us that some things never change.
The look on Nora’s face when we came to her bunk during rest hour to see the artwork she had told us about reminded us the impact a single invested, interested adult can have on a young kid.
Bunk 7 was so excited to pool their tickets from arcade games to “purchase” NEVES (seven spelled backwards), their inflated alien that they dress up and have adopted as their bunk mate. It now sleeps on the top bunk bed in bunk 7. We learned the importance of being silly and lighthearted.
We also had the privilege of participating in the Big-Sister/Little-Sister evening activity. We assisted in creating painted handprints on the path between the lodge and arts & crafts shed. The path was covered with little and medium size hand prints (the “BEFORE”). It rained in the middle of the night and the next morning the path was clean…not a little hand-print in sight (the “AFTER”). We learned that the physical reminders may not last as long as the emotional connection.
We cried on the first day because we were so excited to be here, and cried on the last day because we hated to leave. Camp is that incredible bubble where everyone is accepted for who they are. The collective memory is enriched by each new year and generation.
Amy and Lynnie left camp earlier today with tears in their eyes, about 300 new camp friends, an extensive fanclub, a few new nicknames, some wonderful memories and a reminder that camp will always be the place where you belong, but truly, we gained so much more from them…We learned…
Traditions are fluid but the existence of tradition will never fade at Camp Pembroke. The lyrics to songs may change slightly as the years pass, but the spirit and passion behind them is unwavering. The food tastes better on plastic camp plates. That camp is a process, and sometimes that process can be messy or bumpy, but it’s always worth it. That age is just a number and camp brings out the best in us. The lake is always calling our name. Cheers and songs are meant to be shared with good friends and that camp can be the place where you can truly be YOU.
As I hugged Amy goodbye she said to me “I didn’t think it was possible, but this week was the perfect reminder that you can ALWAYS come home”. Camp is home for so many of our campers and alumnae and we are so grateful that we get to be home each summer and share that with these kids.
And, when that kid comes home screaming “nailed it!” every time something good/fun/funny happens…know that that’s a little piece of Amy and Lynnie that stuck with them, and will always stick with us.