“We were poolside in late July this past summer celebrating of our friend Andy’s 40th in NYC. The sun was setting and we had a gorgeous view. I felt thankful for the weather and the night getaway with Eric, my husband, but that is not what stands out when I think back to that night.
Not long into the celebration, guitars and ukuleles came out and the camp music started flowing. It didn’t matter that twenty summers had gone by since we spent our summer at camp together. It didn’t matter that we were not all actually even at camp for the same summers. The music and the lyrics of Ariel, Brown Eyed Girl, Over the Rafters, and that simple circle of friends transported us instantly. The warmth of the evening brought me back to how I felt at eight years old singing at camp with my counselors and friends. I was also reminded of how it felt at 12 years old to know EVERY word to every song. At 15 years old I began to lead younger kids in song. And when I was 20, I taught those songs to young campers.
Poolside with friends, I realized that the relationships I made at camp are still a part of my life to this day. Jen, Adina, Wendy, Nessa, Debbi, are friends I feel most comfortable with no matter how much time has passed. I stay connected to them on social media because it matters to me where they are and how they are.
I will always feel close to my camp friends no matter how different our lives may have turned out; one is a teacher another still spends summers at camp, and we are still in touch. That’s the power of Jewish overnight camp. Those relationships will stay a part of me for the rest of my life. There is no question in my mind that I am who I am because of the people that were a part of my life during my twelve years of overnight camp experience.
Oh, and I met my husband, Eric, there, too.”
“There’s a picture on Facebook of us as counselors clowning around during orientation before the kids arrived. We’re piled up on a single, metal bed. Some guys are sitting while another is lying across the rest of us. Fitting together in such a small space is enough to make you laugh, but the comments within the conversation thread underneath are even better…
“Best Summer Ever,” writes Paul.
“The Pound,” says Newmie.
“Good looking bunch of guys.” Mike chimes in.
Some of us had been friends for many summers, other had just met, but the bond we shared collectively made us a stronger group of counselors. That closeness made being there seem like a vacation more than a job to care for impressionable youth. Our relationship with each other was infectious, transferring to our campers, showing them how their time at camp could evolve over the years as it had for us.
More than twenty years have passed since the “best summer ever” and we are still regularly in touch. Whether it’s meeting up at a diner for breakfast, asking for career advice or breaking out the guitars for an impromptu jam session – I know these guys are just message or phone call away.
Oh, and I met my wife at camp too.”
We say: “Send your kids to camp; they will LOVE it and you will too!”
Betsy and Eric Kachel met at Eisner Camp in the summer of 1993 as counselors (Eric was a songleader). They currently reside in Andover, Massachusetts, with their three daughters and puppy, Dunkin. The girls particularly enjoy Shabbat dinners followed by family song session.
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