Eleven Years Later – Written By Danny Fier

  • Each summer, on the final night, our camp community gathers for one last time on the shores of Sunset Lake. Hugs are given and tears are shed, but the most powerful part of the night is the words that are spoken. Danny Fier said it perfectly, with all of camp sitting before him, and the large, wooden TN ablaze behind him. The perfect reflection on another perfect summer…

    What do you say about the place that has undoubtedly changed your life? Where does one even begin? Years of memories, laughter and tears, all occurring on just but a few acres of land in the middle of Hampstead, NH. How can I stand up here and summarize how I’ve transformed over the past 11 years?

    Here’s an image for you: it’s June 2007, and I’m a scared 9 year old kid in Bunk 1 who had just said goodbye to his parents for the first time. I was energetic, anxious and incredibly stubborn. I didn’t know anyone, and I had no concept of this place and how tremendously it would impact me. Little by little, summer after summer I found the electives I loved, the people with whom I would become closest, the places at camp (anyone remember the little green dock in the Dell?) where I could take a brief respite from the chaos of daily camp life and take it all in for a second.

    I’ve seen this place transform over the past decade, in front of my very eyes. Back when we used to swim in the lake (and get eardrops after), when the Pool was the Upper Courts, when the songsters were housed in beat-up crusty blue folders and everyone knew what “Page 18 Number 69” meant (if you don’t – it’s Piano Man). Back when “Rob” and “Lee” were just names, not legends. I’ve seen friends come and go, lost my voice screaming during every single color war, and felt the same pang of excitement every time when I find out that dessert is Boston Cream Pie. I have a collection of emotions, experiences and a vault of memories all tethered to the shores of Sunset Lake.

    I remember sitting on the docks in 2013 watching the sunrise on the last morning of my Bunk 8 summer and wondering if camp will ever be the same again. It wasn’t — it somehow managed to get even better. In Israel, I found confidence, developed leadership skills and discovered my strong connection to my Jewish heritage…so much that I went back this summer (shoutout Onward 2017). From DLD on, every single summer that I’ve been on staff has gotten better and better, each season bringing new stories and experiences that shape the very essence of my being. I’ve gotten the opportunity to belt my heart out every Shabbat, to take part in hosting evening activities, to become the best of friends with my co-counselors and to even plan and run Color War.

    There’s no way to describe the feeling of connecting with a camper, the knowledge that you were an instrumental part in shaping their love for CTN. I’m an English Major – I study words and books and yet I still find myself at a loss for how to express what Tel Noar has done for me. Though I’m very much still energetic and stubborn, I am NOT the person I was back in 2007. And for that I’m eternally grateful.

    To 8 and 18’13 – you guys are some of the best friends I’ll ever make, and I hope our camp journey together doesn’t end tomorrow. Thanks for sticking with me through it all – I love you more than words can describe. To my brother – love you Z. Glad I get to share this place with you every summer. To my campers past and present: you guys are why being a counselor has been so rewarding. I’m so fortunate to have shared a bunk with such fantastic kids, and I eagerly await the day in which I get to see you all become the incredible leaders I know you will. To senior staff and my fellow counselors and everyone I cross paths with while walking down the road (let’s be honest, that’s probably about 2/3 of the camp) – thank you for your support, your smiles and your endless devotion to this place. It’s truly the community which makes CTN special.

    Tonight, I stand at a precipice; a crossroads of an intense love of camp and an uncertainty surrounding the future. This is the first time in eleven years that I’ve seriously questioned where I would be standing at this very moment one year from now. I’ve been so fortunate to have had some of the best summers of my life here, and I’m so grateful for all that camp did for my own personal growth. But I’m selfish. Though camp has given me everything I’m still not ready to say goodbye, to finally part ways with my second home. Life has an annoying tendency to get in the way of plans, and as much as I’d love to look you all in the face and say “Yes! Sign me up! 10 for 2 – see you next year!” I truly do not know. And that alone terrifies me beyond belief. At school, I’m always talking about “omg this one time at camp”, or “My camp friend is hilarious” or “HAHA I just remembered the time my camper did this”, and I dread the moment in which I’ve exhausted all of my stories, when I simply have no more. Who knows what kind of person I’ll be a year from now. Who knows what’s gonna happen over the next 10 months. I suppose only time will tell.

    I led what could have been my final song session this past Shabbat. And for some reason, I was able to make it through “Cat’s in the Cradle”, “Leaving on a Jet Plane”, “Piano Man”, and “Summertime Forever” without shedding a single tear. And then Will Lichtenberg comes over, gives me a hug, and whispers three words into my ear that wrecked me: “Bunk 1, 2007”.

    I love you, Camp Tel Noar. This is my favorite place in the world. Goodbyes suck, so as cliche as it is I’m not making this a goodbye speech. In whatever capacity it may be, I’ll see you all again soon. There’s a line in the Alma Mater that particularly resonates with me: “And in our hearts / our love for thee will glow”. Well right now, you’re all glowing brighter than the fire that burned next to me. Thank you all, for everything.

    -Danny Fier

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