Dear Pembroke families,
Water bottles, towels, a left croc, goggles, bathing suit tops, a raincoat or two, jibitz, sunglasses…all of these things are currently waiting to be reclaimed by their rightful/forgetful owner. The chances of your child coming home with all of the things you packed them with this summer – highly unlikely, but what we can assure you is what they will return with will far outweigh a few missing items. They’ll make their beds for a few days and may even help clean up the dinner table a couple of times the way they do at camp and even when they forget about those things, what will remain is strong character, a sense of self and more defined independence.
They’ve found role models to look up to. They come in the form of the counselor who spends a few minutes each night talking about the highlights of the day. The CA who arrived a week ago and brought with them enthusiasm and compassion. The department head who cheers for them when they get up on water skis for the first time and the head counselors who hands out hugs to anyone who needs one. On Monday our Big Sister Little Sister event was once again a hit as campers followed their clues and found their way to their bigs. Greeted with smiles and excitement, we always love watching the fast formed bonds and pure joy.
They’ve found that they can master new things. Fishing is the newest addition to our electives this session and it’s been amazing to watch the patience, excitement and ultimately the pride as campers reel in their catch, smile for a photo op and then release their new friend back into the lake. Learning how to tie the perfect tie-dye, how to perfect the front crawl and wall turn, hitting the notes for our upcoming Jewish Arts Festival performance, using the pottery wheel, learning a new friendship bracelet stitch, horseback riding for the first time, and improving your tennis swing.
Every moment of mastery contributes to self confidence and improves our self-esteem and these small (big) moments are sprinkled throughout the day. So, every night, our campers lay their heads on their pillow, close their eyes and without even knowing it they wake up each morning as even better versions of themselves.
They’ve found more adults who love them. During the rest of the year, our campers often find they connect with a coach and a few teachers, maybe a tutor and, of course, family members too. They find the grown-ups in their lives that support them and help to teach and guide them. At camp, they have 35 of those amazing grown-ups that love them, encourage them and help them grow into amazing people during their time at camp…and to find that in adults who aren’t your family, well that can be incredibly powerful.
They’ve found their voice. Whether it’s reading a poem at Shabbat, learning your lines for the 2nd Session play or learning to advocate for their needs or those of a friend. Camp is the best place to practice using your voice and there are constant reminders of the power of words. This morning we woke up to some VERY loud voices and whistles as all of camp poured into our yard at 7:30am for the morning Color War Rally, led by our Y’Rush campers. Cheers and songs (some from as far back as 1999) were sung before heading back to our bunks to change into Blue & Gold for a spirited breakfast. So while our voices may be a little raspier than usual, the wear and tear is just indicative of self advocacy, lots of ruach, and less sleep than usual.
They’ve found the joy in just being a kid. Messtival was a hit and while the clean up is still happening a few days later, it was worth it all to see the looks on our campers’ faces as they played with slime, jello and body paint. The smiles and laughter embody everything that camp is about, with fun at the forefront.
Late night sugary treats to cool down after a few very hot days, jumping in the pool in your clothes, ice cream BEFORE dinner, drinking from the hose, getting dirty, and everything else that makes childhood so pure. Camp is the place to have so many experiences in a safe and carefree manner, and we feel lucky to be able to provide that.
SO…in less than two weeks, when you pick up your camper and all of their belongings and head home with an exhausted child and damp laundry, just remember, it’s all a part of their camp story. You’ll unpack their clothing and discover half-finished projects that they made for you, empty Gatorade bottles because that frozen Gato was just THAT good, a filthy shirt from Messtival (jell-o still intact), maybe a rock or two to remember the Horseshoe, sweatshirts that don’t belong to them and a staff shirt because their counselors adored them. They have found a home here, people who love them, and a place that will always be theirs.