A few days ago, I wrote a little about my own experiences at sleep away camp, at Habonim Camp Moshavah, in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I have so many cherished memories of these years, and I have no doubt that the Jew, and the citizen of the world I am today, was shaped profoundly by those few years.
Even before I had children, I fantasized about sending them off for summers at Mosh, where they’d have the same wonderful experiences I did – revolution, when the madrichim were run out of camp for 24 hours, an hour of avodah before breakfast, cans of generic soda for Shabbat dinner, musical serials about anti-semitic ticks, and overnight hikes to nowhere….I could go on. And on. And on.
Now that we’ve moved to New England, it’s not so likely that I’ll send my kids to camp in Maryland (even thought there is a contingent of Mosh kids from the Pioneer Valley.) And I realize that’s ok. There are many amazing Jewish summer camps, all of which can provide my kids with memories to last a life time. And really, sleep away camp isn’t about having your parents’ wonderful experience. It’s about having your own. And not even telling your parents about it, because they just couldn’t possibly understand…
Although my older daughter, Ella, is only seven, and has yet to spend a single night away from home, I’m starting to think about where she and Zoe might attend camp. Right now, I’m leaning strongly toward (as in counting the minutes until they can go) Eden Village Camp. It’s a camp that reflects so many of the values I’m trying to teach them – love of Judaism practiced both traditionally and creatively, a strong sense of stewardship for the earth, and a love of the outdoors. I’ve organized several events in our town to promote the camp, and taken my girls to family events at the camp, hoping that by the time they are ready to attend, there will be many familiar faces.
The hardest thing for me to let go of is that I can’t spend the summer there. The directors have tried to convince me that there are plenty of “older” staff. (“Most of our counselors are in their late 20’s!” offered director Yoni Stadlin, in an attempt to be reassuring.) And while a few peers did work at camp (as
nurses and cooks) I know deep down that I need to let my girls have the same kind of summer camp experience I had. Where mom and dad are miles, and what feels like worlds, away. Their camp. Not mine.
But it’s not going to be easy.