I never went to camp, but my children will.
After volunteering and working in the community for over three years I’ve accepted that my upbringing has made me a little bit of a black sheep. I hope you’re sitting down for this one… I didn’t go to camp. Over the years I’ve gotten used to the looks of surprise and shock. I have just accepted that I can’t jump into a time machine and change the past. I generally defend myself by explaining that I lived in the Laurentians and my entire backyard was a camp but over the years I’ve been less and less able to convince myself of that.
This year Team BIEC created an entire track at Le Mood named BIEC Journeys, and it of course wouldn’t be complete without a session about camp. As unlikely of a fit as it seemed, I was given the task of helping form the session. Each speaker was asked to watch Jacob Medjuck’s movie Summerhood. Summerhood was written and directed by Medjuck who attended camp for life. Later on he found his journal from camp, and Summerhood was born.
The goals of the Le Mood session were simple: it wasn’t about which camp was better, it was about the positive impact camp has had on the panelists. The three panelists possessed over five decades of combined camp experience and spoke about the rites of passage that exist in any camp including but not limited to the role that staff play, pranks, first loves etc. For example, during the preparation for the session one speaker mentioned that one year his entire unit woke up to find all their left shoes were tied together. With a little chuckle another speaker said “Ya… that was my idea”
Personally, I reluctantly watched Summerhood and quickly realized that even though I didn’t go to camp that I related to and empathized with the lead character. For the most part he was just a normal kid, trying to make it through childhood unscathed, just doing so at camp with four of what he described to be the best friends he ever had (even though to this day he only knows some of them by their camp nicknames) Perhaps it was due to all of the stories that fly around my office, or the amount of camp staff I’ve had the privilege to work and learn with but the entire movie was familiar to me.
A slew of recent articles, including one by the American Camp Association have reinforced what we (and by we I mean you campers) have known for generations: summer camp teaches campers lifelong skills that in turn make them more resilient, improve their social skills and if you were to ask me, create exceptional community leaders. Not to mention the study done by the Foundation for Jewish Camp in 2011 that showed that people who attend Jewish overnight camp are 10% more likely to marry a Jewish partner, 37% more likely to light shabbat candles and 55% more likely to feel an attachment to Israel.
These studies and articles came out too late to affect whether or not I had the opportunity to attend camp, but there’s no doubt in my mind that the next generation of little Stars will be signed up for camp before they’re able to walk.
A big thanks to Samantha Star at BIEC for this inspiring post! To learn more about Le Mood and BIEC, click the links below: