Camp is So Fun! Are You Sure I Have to Leave?

Guest blog-post by Leora Kimmel Greene, a long-time Ramahnik who helped out on tzevet for our first week of the kayitz:

After 11 summers at Camp Ramah on staff, I am always looking for an opening to spend a few days there over the summer. When I got an e-mail about needing someone for the first few days of camp to teach Jewelry making, I jumped on the opportunity.  I quickly became an expert reading blogs and watching videos. (How learning a new skill can boost your ego and expand your creativity can be an entirely different blog post). Today, I want to reflect on coming to camp as a mom and watching my own kid immerse herself in the love, laughter, community, and dirtiness that is camp.

My husband Ben and I met at Camp Ramah. It was July 1, 2006 and it all started over a Shabbat-a-gram! It was fitting to come back with our 2 ½ year old Avie and be there on July 1st, it felt right. She has spent weekends at camp before but has never been a “camper” in the Gan program (day program for staff kids under camper age).  I tried to spy on her throughout the day to see how she was doing. And from that I have a few observations:

  • Camp is an opportunity for everyone, regardless age, stage of life, or ability, to learn something. I learned how to make jewelry and teach others to make it.  Avie become more comfortable in the Agam, learned Hebrew words for some of her favorite places like the Chadar (Dining Hall), and new Shabbat songs.
  • While in theory I know this, I think I can reiterate here as a mom — nothing should go to camp that you want to come back remotely clean. In just 6 days at camp we stained more t-shirts than I can count, lost one of every matching sock, and outgrew a pair of shoes. To me, this is the sign of happiness and freedom that comes with being at camp.
  • Your camp friends become your best friends in moments and days. Avie had never met most of the kids she was spending the day with. But each night right after the Shema, as we said good-night to all the friends she played with that day, she was sure not to miss anyone. She woke up asking for her Gan friends and was worried if someone was not with her when she thought they would be.
  • We all know camp is tiring. We play (or work) all day! When we would go back to our room at the end of each night, Avie had a hard time calming down. She was intent on telling me details from the day and even though I could not understand them all, I could sense the excitement in her voice.
  • The freedom that kids can feel at camp is unique and special. I know that Avie can walk to the chadar ochel “alone” because she is never really alone. When she would do rikud in the chadar with her friends, I could watch from the side as she completely got lost in the room surrounded by friends, staff and campers. She never looked back, because (I believe) she knew she was safe.

As we grabbed Avie to leave, she had a full-out meltdown about not wanting to leave camp, and I quote: “camp is the most fun, I stay”. As she wailed and I bribed her to get into the car with ice cream, I felt overly proud. If my 2 ½ year old is this sad to leave camp today, what will Nivonim summer be like?

Only time will tell! And for now, she packs her bag each night and tells me we are going back to camp.