Summer at Camp

It’s a funny combination of ancient and modern. Modern — there’s now wireless internet at Crane Lake Camp, and when we needed modern words with ancient roots, I queried FaceBook and got back more than enough replies. A couple of colleagues, seeing from my posts where I am, have asked me to look for their kids who are campers or staff. When I couldn’t sleep, I downloaded a white noise “ocean” sound and played in on my MacBook — along with some beautiful Phantom Butterflies as a soothing screen saver. I’m teaching about Israel using video clips from YouTube.

But in other ways it’s the same wonderful, ancient, rooted camp experience. The first couple of days I felt very old. My two youngest kids (6 and 9) are faculty brats this year, so they go to day camp at Eisner but spend the evenings with me. I said something to one of them about doing something “after camp” and she looked at me like I had two heads and asked, “Are we going home tomorrow?” It seemed like the two weeks were going to pass in no time for me — and I was having trouble remembering how to make interactive, hands-on lessons for teenagers.

Then I stepped in to do a couple of program pieces for elementary school-age kids, and suddenly there was that old wacky energy back. And yesterday was Trip Day, all quiet on camp, and suddenly it was one of those days where at 7 at night you can hardly remember what you were doing at 4 in the afternoon. (At 4 in the afternoon we were in the pool. At 7 at night we were taking a leisurely walk down to the lake and over to see the animals.) And all of a sudden, it’s that camp experience: Where so much is packed in to one day that by the end of 2 weeks, or 4 weeks, you feel like you’ve been here for months at least.  “A day is a week, and an hour is a day.”

Then this morning, another mix of ancient and modern: Faculty (rabbis, cantors, and Jewish educators) give a 2-minute “quote of the day” in the morning at the beginning of morning t’filah (services, about 20 minutes, all singing except for this and silent prayer). I found a quote yesterday on-line where Mark Zuckerberg had said about the movie “The Social Network“I just wished that nobody made a movie of me while I was still alive.” So I talked about what Bahya ibn Pakuda said a thousand years ago: “Days are scrolls. Write on them what you want to be remembered.” I reminded them that somebody might be making a movie of *their* life someday — in fact, I’m an Eema, the mom of two campers here, and there are photos and videos of camp posted EVERY DAY, so we can see what is going on.  “Think about what movie you want them to make of your life.”

And at lunch one of the Machoniks (CITs, counselors-in-training) came up and said she liked what I said, and it turned out that she’s from Beth Emeth in Albany, and we got to talking, and I met some other young women in Machon, and all of a sudden I’m starting to be one of those counselors/rabbis/songleaders that I so looked up to when I was a camper. It’s magic to be on that other side.

So the upshot is: Just now, a colleague with a Machonik son here said to me (via Facebook) that he hoped “the summer is going well.” And I had to smile. I’ve been here 4 days. But yes, “the summer” is going well — can’t wait to see what the rest of “the year” at camp is like, in the next week and a day.