The Final Chapter

  • And just like that, here we are. It’s like we blinked and that’s all it took for seven weeks to fly by. In my years spent here, I’ve established a routine. The people I seek out when I need to laugh, the activities I go to when I need a distraction, and the places I visit when I want to catch my breath, sit back and soak in the beauty of this place and these people. For the last six weeks I’ve spent every Friday afternoon separate from the action of camp to reset and reflect and put my experiences into words to share with all of you. It has become a part of my weekly tradition. At 3pm, I get my laptop, grab a coffee and settle into my hammock outside my house on the lake, just inches from the water and what feels like miles away from camp. Each week I struggle to find the words to describe what a week at camp truly looks like, and now I have the added challenge of sharing with you the intensity, joy, and heart wrenching goodbyes that make up the final chapter of our summer.

    Every day tells a story. Earlier this week Bunk 14 (A & B) was presented with the question, “If the words you spoke appeared on your skin…would you still be beautiful?” during an Arts & Crafts period. The girls spent the remainder of the class drawing the words that described them on their arms, legs and hands with body paint. Brave, powerful, funny, beautiful, kind and forgiving. The patience and intention they demonstrated with one another as they sat together and completed the project told a beautiful story of two bunks who have looked past differences and begun a new narrative of friendship and commitment to one another. Hearing the song “Lime Tree” played each night in many of the boys’ side bunks tells a story of tradition and brotherhood. Bunk 9’s performance of a surprise choreographed dance during the Beach Party on Monday Night told a story of fun and leadership, even amongst our youngest campers. Finding Joseph picking up trash around camp told a story of respect and initiative. Getting to spend free play with Max to work on math problems together shared a story of unexpected connections. Each day at camp contributes to chapters in our camp story.

    And then there’s a plot twist and Color War breaks. For three days you cheer, scream and yell as your bunkmates and teammates compete and run and swim as hard as they can.  You throw on your green or your yellow and now there are new people involved in your story. Your team captains become the main characters.  You look to your fellow Galil teammates to share in the feeling of teamwork as you work as a collective group to move that giant rock to the trash can during Gold Rush. Your captains understand the angst you feel as you patiently wait for #45 in the apache relay to come meet you on the porch steps so you could skip backward to the Dell Field where you’ll attempt to hit a tennis ball over the pool fence. We watched as young campers took on leadership roles in Photofest and participating in the production of videos for Clipfest. We watched as our campers silently and seriously entered the Gym last night to present their team alma maters and passionately screamed their cheers. Color War brings out the best in our campers. The foundation of competition tends to set the scene for compassion and camaraderie as campers find their voice within their teams and the role that allows them to shine most. Bunks 8 and 18 step up in a way that often leaves me in awe of the power of camp. I love every moment and often say it’s the best three days of the year, but the anticipation and build-up behind it all contributes to the relief and pride our campers feel when the final score is announced and the sea of green and yellow hugs and “congratulations” morphs into one large circle. Rejoining as one complete community to sing the alma mater before bed always signifies so much more than just the end of Color War. It’s that moment that I always feel that impending end of camp.

    There’s a certain feeling to it all. A pit your stomach that you can only describe as an uneasy sense of gratitude. We know how lucky we are to be here, but there’s an almost desperate desire for it to last all year. A sort of helplessness that no early morning sunrise or late night adventure can drag out the time we have here, no matter how hard we try. So much of what we do has an overwhelming sense of finality to it. Today was our last pizza lunch. Tonight is the final Shabbat in the chapel, the last time we’ll walk arm and arm to services with your closest friends. Monday we’ll savor a camp grilled cheese for the last time until next summer. One more bunk night. A couple more evening activities. A few more basketball games on the court during Free Play. And while we are limited in the specific moments that remain in summer 2018, and our eyes may be wet as we look back on the incredible memories and friendships we’ve established over these last weeks, there’s an odd sense of comfort in knowing you’re not alone in how you feel.

    In just a few short days we’ll all gather on the very beach I’m gazing out at as I write this. Our arms slung over the shoulders of our most favorite people, cheeks damp with the dread that Wednesday morning with bring, but hearts full from the love we have for this place. We’ll watch the TN burn in front of us as we anticipate the end of the best summer ever. We have a few pages left before we close the book and retire it on the shelf until next year. So, when you pick up your child on Wednesday squeeze, and hug, and kiss ‘em, and let them share their stories with you. Don’t ask too many questions, listen and smile and listen some more, they’ll have so much to tell you. And as you unpack them and find the muddy, damp sneakers, know that those tell a story of winning Gold Rush and that the dirty, old tennis ball is the one they played their final game of step ball with. They worked hard to win Canteen, so please ask before you throw away that empty bottle of Gatorade, they earned it. You’ll find clothes with other campers’ names on it, those tell a story of friendship and sharing. You’ll find an unopened box of envelopes and untouched stamps that will share a story of being active and engaged. The beauty of this place is that it’s never really over, even if this chapter is, each camper’s story, and the adventure, will continue to be a part of their own life’s narrative.

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to spend another summer with your child. I’ve cherished every moment and every story.

    The End.

One response to “The Final Chapter”

  1. Amy Rosenfeld says:

    Thank you for creating everlasting memories for my two daughters!

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