Aaaaaaaand…exhale. What. A. Week. Finding the words to properly encapsulate the last seven days is nearly impossible. We spent most of this week feeling overwhelming awe and gratitude and so much of that is in part to the incredible campers and staff we have the fortune of spending our summers with. Bottom line: your kids are AMAZING.
Last Saturday evening started just the way the first one of every month does: gathered together in the gym watching MTV Night performances. One of the strongest sets of dances, every bunk brought their best to the stage and performance after performance, the crowd went absolutely nuts. And as the crowd continued to rumble, an approaching storm also moved in. All of our staff’s phones alerted us to the weather warnings and with little discussion our team closed doors, gathered campers from outside and immediately jumped into action. We launched into an epic dance party beginning with a never before requested encore of Haifa Ashdod’s MTV Night, followed by loud singing to help muffle the sounds of thunder and lightning. Big kids scooped up the littles and everyone was on their feet. In that moment we were grateful for our intuitive staff and involved campers who turned something scary into a core camp memory. Our next moment of gratitude happened when Deputy Chief Jim showed up to make sure that our campers knew we were safe, and the storm was passing. He was off duty, we were out of harms way, and still he wanted to ensure that our campers felt comfortable. He gave us the all clear, we brought down our 15-passenger vans and the Pembroke Uber was in full swing shuttling campers back to their bunks. Memory made.
The following day was our Prospective Family Day. We welcomed 40 future families to join us for activities, lunch, a pool party and s’mores and couldn’t have pulled off the day without our 30 camper volunteers. We are consistently reminded of how incredible our kids are, no matter their age, but this one took the cake. We paired a couple of our 7th-10th graders together as co-campers to show groups of 6-8 new kids around camp for the day.
They acted as “junior” counselors, keeping the kids happy, hydrated and having fun. The day felt seamless because of everyone’s excitement in sharing camp with new faces and we were reminded of the magic of camp (even in just a few hours) when Maya, one of our volunteers, cried saying bye to her kids at the end of the day. It was such a touching moment that reinforced the intensity of relationships forms at camp.
Monday evening, after a trip to one of our favorites, Water Wizz, Color War broke and we entered a new phase of the summer, one filled with leadership and lifelong memories. Color War represents so much within our community. Three days of multi-layered traditions, competition, stress, excitement, lost voices, new friends, high fives, cheers, spirit, shock, leadership, tears, happiness, nerves, songs, creativity. The list goes on and on and on. We could tell you who won which event or activity, who sang the loudest and who’s alma mater was the most well-written, but we’d be missing the point. Color War is not about the actual competition. It’s about the late nights writing cheers, the piggyback rides when the youngest member of your team is just too tired. It’s having fun during the Colonel Canoe Race and rolling 1000s of little tissue paper balls. It’s the pit in your stomach as you sense the approach of your task in the all-camp relay race and the sense of relief when your Captain tells you how proud they are of you. It’s Chloe and Liv holding hands during the first leg of the Amazing Race and Penny handing out Gatorades to all of the runners. It’s listening to Dylan and Miri discuss what meaning of sportsmanship before the Y’Rush game of ultimate Frisbee. It’s the all age group search for the second heart buried beneath the sand on the beach. It’s being captains with your first camp friend and adding a few more to your collection. It’s about the sense of pride our campers show for their team and the sense of responsibility they share towards one another. Color War is the greatest display of sisterhood.
Typically, at the end of Color War, we feel relief, but this year there is an overwhelming feeling of gratitude. Gratitude for the Y’Rush campers who led us without even missing a beat, the staff who planned every detail down to the smallest moments, and the community that rallied behind both. In all of our years, we have never experienced such an incredible Color War. So how did we get here? What created this epic three days and how do we make sure we never lose that. It could be the captains, four of the most unassuming, easy-going, supportive and consistent captains that we have ever witnessed take charge, or the Amazing Race that ran so smoothly we almost cried. The Poiple Captains who made sure every member of staff felt included and a part of the excitement, and the B&Gs who ran camp for three days like it was nothing. A huge part of it is definitely our connection to this group of campers, a special bond that made us even more proud of the leaders they were, and the good people will always be. To Y’Rush 2023, we couldn’t be more proud of you.
And, to the rest of Camp Pembroke, we hope this week gave you core memories, opportunities to shine, friends to stick by you and experiences that will define you.