Camp Pembroke | A Sense of Home



Camp is a process – an experience that involves a lot of energy, many emotions and all of our senses. It feels intense, exciting, and even exhausting at times. So much of my own experiences are wrapped up in the sights, sounds and smells of camp that in an instant, the smallest thing can bring me right back to even my earliest days in the Horseshoe. The sound of a slamming screen door, the scent of sunscreen and bug spray, the crackle of the Haksheevu machine as the end of a period is announced, and the unsteady feel of gravel rocks beneath my flip flops as I walk through the Horseshoe. If I close my eyes hard enough, I can picture that awkward, unsure, yet undeniably excited 9 year-old eager to get a taste of camp for myself. Always a mix of emotions and swirl of my senses, camp is the perfect combination of it all.

Whether it’s watching our kids sway arm-in-arm in the Pine Grove, watching our 8th graders bond as an entire unit on their overnight, or three friends hanging out on the docks, the sight of connection is around every corner. Watching campers sit together on the beach at Nantasket and just be, enjoying the calm and the time together is a reminder of the importance of slowing down, and seeing the excitement on the faces of our Tel Aviv Tiberias campers when we announced that we chose to celebrate 7-11 (free slurpees!) with them, were just some of the little moments and ebbs and flows of the camp days.


The sound of pure joy permeates every corner of this perfect place. The echoes of laughter and shared stories intertwine with excited screams and cheers as campers rushed the stage last night with hairbrushes, books, brooms and crocs to earn points during Backward Scavenger Hunt. Loud splashes into the lake, singing during our Siagel Pool party, and words of encouragement shouted from bunkmate to bunkmate as our 10th graders conquered the high ropes challenges. Joyful cheers resonate throughout the air, reminding us of our community’s courage to step outside of comfort zones and embrace new experiences.

The scents of camp range from well-loved sneakers, to a freshly cracked can of tennis balls, to BBQ dinners on Thursday nights, and of course, our world-famous grilled cheese. The smell of the Health Center always brings me right back to the first time I entered the infirmary as a kid, greeted by eager staff on the first day of camp. It was the first place I learned that I could take care of myself and that there were trusted adults that could take over if I ever needed a little extra help or TLC.


Like most things about camp, it’s hard to put words to the familiarity but somehow the aged linoleum and wood paneling creates instant comfort for me. In Arts & Crafts is the acrylic paint, in the Pine Grove it’s wood chips and at the Pool the chlorine reminds me of my own summers spent conquering new strokes and gaining confidence in the water.

A slice of watermelon, a frozen Gatorade from canteen, a sunbutter sandwich, fried dough at Canobie Lake Park, a s’more by the campfire, and freshly baked challah on Friday nights are all tastes of summer that remind us of our favorite moments at camp, but it’s the taste of independence that our campers gain that contributes to the magic of camp. Our campers have mastered their schedules, gotten to know camp inside and out and are already craving that next taste of growth and experience.

The most powerful of all is the feel of camp. The comfort of being surrounded by friends and supportive counselors, the angst of wondering when College Night will be announced, the uncertainty of what 2nd session will bring and the excitement of knowing Messtival isn’t too far away. Lots of emotions contribute to one big feeling and the word that describes it all? It feels like CAMP. Walking to breakfast in your pajamas, running to canteen, getting mail, laying on the grass on Masada. It’s in the uncertainty and excitement and through the tired eyes and restless “Rest Hour” that our campers learn patience and kindness, empathy and grit, fun and friendship. Not every moment is perfect, but every moment feels like camp. And as the years go by and the memories collect, you eventually get to the place where only one word comes to mind when you think of camp. Home. It’s as simple as it gets. Camp feels like home and we are so lucky to be a person or a part or a place where your child can just feel at home.

Shabbat Shalom,

Becca + Amy

Women's Journey to Israel

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