Lost & Found

  • In a rough estimate, I’d say 30-45 towels, 4 raincoats, a pair of black high top sneakers, lots of bathing suits and a few pairs of lonely goggles. All lost, all on Lee’s porch and now on the way home to their rightful owners. There’s the logistical, detail-related piece of preparing for camp. Making sure your camper has the correct number of socks to get them through four rainy days and enough batteries to power their fans through the humid nights. It’s a delicate balance between making sure your camper (or you) feel prepared and adequately packed for an experience away from moms and dads, and not sending too much clutter, or literal baggage, to distract your camper from the ultimate goal of camp. We lose a lot at camp, but what we find, and what your campers come home with is truly invaluable.

    At camp, your child finds caring adults that they know love and care for them outside of their immediate family. One of my favorite CTN traditions (I think I say that a lot, but I mean it every time) is Dancing in the Pool on the last Shabbat of each session. It was organized chaos, getting 300 campers quickly and quietly into the pool and required the diligence and attention of all of our counselors and lifeguards. The second the music turned on, the fun began and our campers engaged in some of our Friday favorites like Scatman and the Sombrero Song. About halfway through the dancing I looked over at the pool house and noticed Gili (counselor) and his camper Ethan doing what I have since learned was the nosebleed dance. Ethan had gotten a bloody nose while dancing and Gili quickly intervened to get him safely out of the pool and to make sure he didn’t miss out on the dancing. Both of them pinched their noses and without skipping a beat continued with the dancing on the pool deck. Gili made Ethan feel cared for and showed him he was not alone. It was a small moment but Ethan’s face said it all, his counselor didn’t want him to miss out, and that experience can deliver a powerful message to a kid.

    At camp, your child finds their voice.  They learn to speak up for themselves, they get a big part in the play, they learn how to effectively manage conflict. On Saturday, I watched Bunk 12 lead services in front of all of camp. It was a fun opportunity for them to take turns leading the prayers, do readings and carry the Torah. There was one moment that I know I’ve seen a million times but had never noticed the fragility of it for a camper. Brianna stepped up to the podium to lead us in the prayer, poised but noticeably nervous. As she found her place in the prayer book and looked out at camp there was this moment of uncertainty. This moment of what if no one else joins in? What if I have to sing this whole thing by myself? If the response hadn’t happened the way it did, I’m not sure I would have ever noticed how big that moment was, but seeing this look of “oh yeah, I got this” creep across her face as all of camp enthusiastically joined in was a reminder to me. Camp has this natural way of making you feel a part of something much bigger than yourself, even in the littlest of moment. Camp’s response, reinforced for Brianna, that camp’s got her back, and even if she doesn’t have a cantorial future, she’s got camp.

    The remainder of Saturday was spent helping campers pack up and get organized for Sunday’s pick up, but in between the moments of unrolling sleeping bags and sweeping underbeds, there were plenty of “soak it all in” moments. Holding the hand of a close friend as campers walked to Sharon’s porch to get cleaning supplies or pick up their laundry. Squeezing in as much step ball and tetherball as humanly possible. Grabbing milk and fruit from the dining hall and then playing gaga…it’s a thing. Beach newcomb. Sitting in a circle of camping chairs in front of bunks, just taking in the sights and sounds of camp. For new campers, they have found a place that they belong to here at camp in the last few weeks, and for those who had been here before, they jumped right back into their camp routine as though they had never left.

    Sunday was a day of mixed emotions, everyone was excited to reunite with parents, siblings and family members, but campers were either preparing to say goodbye to friends and/or to say goodbye to their time at camp. A we said a tearful goodbye to our First Session campers, we prepared to welcome in a record number of parents to stay at camp for the first part of visiting day, giving everyone the opportunity to find their place at Tel Noar. The waterfront was busy, families set up picnics all along the cove overflowing with homemade goodies and incredible spreads. Kona Ice was the perfect treat to cool down and we loved that even many First Session campers weren’t ready to say goodbye and lingered for the afternoon. After a day of family and great good, our campers returned, and we headed off to Chunky’s for Despicable Me 3. Back to camp and back to bed for a good night’s rest before welcoming 100 Second Session campers the following day.  Even amongst the drizzle and downpour, our staff and campers found that same excitement of welcoming our Second Session families on Monday! I’m always blown away at the ease of which our Second Session campers join in and immediately find their place in their bunks, chugs, mixed tables and activities and the magic begins.

    A camper finding their confidence happens in a million different ways at camp. When Evan quickly mastered how to paddle during his first B&C, campers from Bunk 10 conquering a roller coaster at Canobie Lake park yesterday, and even the moment of satisfaction when Asher (8) reported back to me that he found his missing water bottle on his own after searching every nook and cranny of camp. We found new friendships when our staff challenged the staff of the Hampstead Rec Department to a game of basketball after dinner on Wednesday. Campers found a new favorite food this morning when they were treated to waffles and ice cream at breakfast. Adam and Madi found wonder has they completed experiment after experiment in the Mad Science electives. I found a reminder to enjoy every moment when Bunk 14 joined me in Efraim’s office for an impromptu dance party on Sunday’s Pick Up day. Campers found out what the excitement is all about surrounding the Color War buzz when we had a “fake break” at lunch on Tuesday. Campers found comfort as they snuggled up with siblings during last night’s showing of Sing during movie night. Sheri, our Second Session Head Counselor, has found that even with so many years since she was last at camp, not much has changed when it comes down to the impact that this place has.

    You have chosen to give your child the absolute best possible gift that no material possession could ever rival. You have given them two, or 3.5, or seven weeks to find joy, calm and relaxation. The opportunity to find themselves and do it in a comfortable, supportive, fun environment. And when you pick your child up in a few weeks, and your 9 year old daughter or 15 year old son have tears streaming down their face at the thought of leaving this perfect place, know how special it is that your child found CTN, and that they have found a little camp, in a small New Hampshire town, that will always be theirs.

    Shabbat shalom!

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