When I think of camp, I don’t really know where to begin. There’s the lake that sparkles (it may or may not also contain a purple hippo), the mountains that seem too large to be real, and a sky that remains blue regardless of the weather conditions. Camp looks magical. There are the songs at roundup, the daily traditions and classic tunes that make SLC shabbat services different from all others. Camp sounds magical.
But the most important part of camp is that it feels magical. Every inch of camp is magic… Yeah, SLC gives Disney a run for its money. From the moment you turn down Lake Surprise Road, your stomach drops and your heart begins to thud so loud you can no longer hear your thoughts. You’re bouncing up and down in the seat with complete disregard for the brain cells that you are massacring as your head bashes into the roof of your parent’s car. The boxes in the seat next to you are piercing your ribcage as you try to lay across them for a better view of everything around you, but you feel no pain. Camp looks like it did when you left it just ten months before… BUT HOW?! (DISNEY EFFECT? Obviously) The apprehension that you can’t get down the road fast enough creeps into your entire being and you begin to panic. You begin to have inane thoughts, What if I die before I get signed into my unit? WHAT IF I CANT SING A NEW CHEER! but since you have lost the ability to keep your thoughts to yourself during these extremely intense few minutes, your parents start to yell at you for worrying them while also telling you you’re being irrational. And if you are anything like me, you yell back “YOU KNOW NOTHING OF CAMP! THESE ARE REAL FEARS!”. Your face starts to hurt because you’re smiling and screaming and by the time you pass Gene’s house, you’ve lost your voice, are completely out of breath and your parents have gone deaf and grey from your loud shrieks paired with a slight fear that you are truly having a heart attack in the backseat. Somehow, you are still screaming your face off. You get out of the car and just start running at people like a wild turkey. You might not even know who you are running toward, but you just want to hug everyone at the same time. Arrival day is synonymous in my mind with the sound of “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH I MISSED YOU!”
When you finally get to the main office, your bags are half out of the car, your favorite stuffed animals are scattered on the dirt road and your parents are trying to coral you for a picture… but alas, they fail. At camp you are your own “grown up” person. You cannot be subjected to embarrassing photography at a time like this! You have important priorities that could change the course of your entire life- like meeting all of your counselors first, or unpacking your “cup-a-noodles” before lunch.
To anyone who is not a “camp person”, this appears ludicrous. But for hundreds of kids (and their newly deaf parents), this is reality.
The english language cannot do camp the justice it deserves. There are not enough words to explain each summer, or even the feeling of true belonging that is birthed each time we “nestle”. Each member of the SLC community is more than a camper, or staff member; they are part of a family.
I miss the magic that that begins on day one and carries through until the very last fraction of a second that you are on camp grounds. I miss waking up and absolutely loving every second of every day, no matter what is happening. When I am home, I even miss cleaning the bunk!
Feeling “full” of SLC enchantment is what draws you back each summer; what you thirst for as soon as you are released from school. That feeling of exploding as you venture back “home” to the 10516 is incredible. Camp runs deep in your entire being just after one summer, and when you’ve been there for years – it is a major part of who you have become.
I, like many others, miss camp because it is more than a place to spend the summer, it is home.