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Thursday, August 23, 2012

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Jew Camp Confidential

If you’re a Jewish kid from New York City, you’ve most likely spent at least one of your adolescent summers tucked away at a Jewish sleepaway camp. Myself, I spent two summers at Surprise Lake Camp. My mom deemed me difficult and thought that having me sleep away somewhere in the mountains of Cold Springs, New York, would correct things. I had my heart broken the night before the end of summer dance; I spent every Friday evening sitting on the grass lip syncing prayers in Hebrew that I knew absolutely nothing of; I wrote back home complaining about the cruelty of my counselors and their monthly cleanup day (my bunk had unfortunate dibs on the bathrooms; you can imagine what happens to 12-year-old girls and their bathrooms).

To recall all of the other great times and to cap the summer right, here are three more confessionals of Jew camp.

JEIN FUNK, Camp Cherusham, 1997 – 2001

“I went to Cherusham from the ages of 9 to 13. It was a hasidic sleepaway camp, girls only, though I heard they had a boys version two mountains away. It was in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, and it was miserable. It was a super religious place, and I was the only one that didn’t go to yeshiva. Most people knew how to read in Hebrew, knew how to daven, but I didn’t know any of that shit. I barely knew English at that point.

My counselors had to try extra hard to make sure that I said all of my appropriate prayers. There’s a prayer for the first time you pee in the morning to thank god, I guess, that your bladder is still working all right and all that stuff. So every morning when we went to pee, my counselors would listen with their ear to the little bathroom stall to make sure that I was saying the appropriate braha afterward.”

ABE GURKO, Camp Galila, 1969 

“I was supposed to go for the whole summer, but I left after the first month because it was torture. It was an Orthodox Jewish camp, and it was the first sleepaway camp that I had ever gone to. Normally, my family would take summer bungalow colonies up with all the Jews in the borscht belt.

The drama was, I had just had my bar mitzvah in May, but I wasn’t really into being Orthodox Jewish and all. I got to this camp, and because I was bar mitzvah’d, I had to go with all the guys of bar mitzvah age to do the tefillin in the morning. I was so not into it, so I told everybody that I was 12. My friend Larry, who I had went to school with, knew I was bar mitzvah’d because he went to my bar mitzvah, but he kept the lie for me.”

SHAUL SHTOCK, Camp Gan Israel, 1995 – 1997

“I attended this camp from ages 9 to 11. It was my very first year, and it was about a quarter way into the summer. I thought I’d hate it, but I thought I’d give it a shot. It seemed okay, but then I was really hating it. I don’t remember exactly what happened, but I had some interaction with a camper and then with a counselor that I went to for help, and everything just went completely to shit. I hated everything. I hated the world, I hated people, I hated my camp and everybody and everything. To hell with all of them.

So I ran away into the woods. I figured they wouldn’t even have noticed that I was gone. They were on their way to an activity, and I just dipped into the woods. I found this steep ravine with a rope tied to a tree at the very top of it. I used this rope to go about halfway down the ravine, and about halfway down, I saw this log that had fallen so perfectly that you could actually sit on it, and either look out into the open space or — and this is what I chose to do — you could turn around and just stare at this almost sheer wall.

There was a little rock outcropping in the face of this ravine that I was staring at, and suddenly out of nowhere this little chipmunk just popped up. He was sitting there perfectly still, and he was looking directly at me. He was looking into my eyes, and I was looking into his eyes, and at any moment — you know, it’s one of those experiences with nature that something cute looks at you and then it darts away, but he was not going anywhere. We were there for about 15 minutes.

As I was sitting there, I realized I wasn’t just staring at some object or some thing — let’s say the rocks, if the chipmunk hadn’t showed up. I was actually looking into the eyes of this living creature, and eventually if you sit and stare at something long enough, it starts to get a little different on you. Eventually I wasn’t looking at a chipmunk, I was looking at another living creature. It was suddenly this implicit trust that I discovered this creature had in me so as not to run off, and eventually I trusted this animal such that I stopped feeling like an idiot for sitting there and staring at its eyes for so long.”

Angela Melamud writes and lives and tweets in Brooklyn.

91 Comments / Post A Comment

RNL
RNL

Oh man, this is not what I, in my jealous imaginings, imagined Jew camp to be. Raised orthodox atheist with a Lutheran background, I had to make do with happy summer love hippie camp, while my Jewish friends were making out behind bushes and smoking cigarettes.

To this day, they all have this special bond and when we hang out with our bicycles and farmers market fritattas being cool, I know that they are just thismuch cooler than me.

TacoBanana

Oh man am I the only Jew who fricking LOVED Jew camp. Okay well the third one I went to anyways. It was called Olin Sang Ruby Union Instutute, or Osrui for short and it was in Wisconsin and run by hippies, and I learned all sorts of cool stuff there, like how to French Kiss and enjoy it, and I dated a boy who looked exactly like Alfred E. Neuman from Mad Magazine, only I ended up breaking up with him because I found that embarrassing.

Every year when I had to go back to Toronto with it's uptight private school Jews and the non-Jews that hated my loud laughter and neurotic interiority I got very sad.

So yah, I loved it. Shalom Rav V'Yisrael am chav etc...

entangled

@TacoBanana I loved Jew Camp, but I went to one that was specifically Reform Jew Camp and was pretty hippie-ish. I think it was also the least fancy of any camp that anyone I knew went to. All my friends went places with cleaning services and tasty snacks all day whereas we had a rotation where your bunk would have to clean out the cafeteria (taking out trash for hundreds of people... ew). Oh, and the newest building on campus was basically a corrugated metal warehouse shed built in 1980 that everyone still called the New Facility. Until my last year when a freak Berkshires tornado blew the roof off.

I wasn't a very religious kid, but I did really love camp. I particularly liked how religion wasn't about reciting Hebrew and formal events there like it was at home. Services were 15 minute singalongs and religious class was more like ethics and history discussions. Pretty sure I wouldn't identify as Jewish so readily without those experiences.

mistakeshavebeenmade

@TacoBanana Which camp did you go to? I worked at Camp Ramah to earn tuition one year, and most of the kids there were from T.O. I was hella jealous of the campers, but it was a good place to work too. I learned everything I need to know about keeping kashrut in one summer. :-)

Yankee Peach

@TacoBanana Oh wow. I went to the same camp--only it was in New Hampshire. We had hippie counselors who taught us the words to all kinds of protest songs and let us tie-die our bedsheets & pillowcases. But my favorite thing ever was Wednesday movie night where we would watch horror movies or old wierd flicks like Casino Royale and make out with boys. I dated a boy who looked like Robert Di Niro-- not a good thing in a 12 yr old, but he was super sweet. I loved my leftie Jew camp.

lenka_V

@sarabea I visited a camp Ramah for a week with my Jewish elementary school once and it was great. All my friends got to go away to Jew camp every year but it was way expensive for my family. I was always so jealous.

zayetz

@TacoBanana I spent a summer at OSRUI and it was the worst, most miserable experience of my little life up to that point.
but 2 of my cousins went, and the both really loved it.

MovieTheaterIntifada

I'm not Jewish, but I wish I was able to go to Camp Kinderland. That camp really sounded awesome.

aphrabean

@MovieTheaterIntifada I have friends who went there! It does indeed sound really awesome.

VDRE

I was just talking about Jew camp to my boss this morning because his daughter went to Jew camp and so did I. Memories! I went to Camp Livingston in Bennington, Indiana. I haaaated it but my brother really liked it (and it seemed like everyone else there liked it too and it was just me who wasn't in to the whole Jew camp thing). Go figure.

CherrySlushie

@VDRE I went to Camp Livingston too!I'm actually not Jewish but my cousins had a bunch of Jewish friends so they started going and eventually I tagged along. The only memories I seem to have are of the juicy camp drama stories like people running away, trying to overdose on Tylenol, kids finding their counselors weed etc. What year were you there?

VDRE

@CherrySlushie !! I was there in 2001 and 2002. I can't remember any camp drama unfortunately, I just remember learning how to play cards and making fun of the manmade lake.

yeah-elle

I am Jewish but I never went to Jew camp. There was one (absurdly expensive) one that all the Jewish kids I knew went to, Camp Tawonga, and I never went. Then again, I also never felt any kinship with my fellow Jewish kids, who all came from families with relatives on the East Coast and Ashkenazi roots and traditions, while my mom brought up my family with all her Tunisian Sephardic traditions. I don't think they knew any better, but they always made me feel like an outsider. A lot of, "Your mom is from AFRICA, she can't be Jewish, also why aren't you black?" nonsense.

siniichulok

@yeah-elle I also never went to Jew camp, even though I'm a Jew, and as a (Turkish-ish) Sephardic person from the East Coast, I hear ya. To complicate matters, my dad is a (gentile) Slav, and everyone acted like I was nuts to be claiming Sephardic heritage, with my name and appearance (that is, if they knew what "Sephardic" actually is). One Ashkenazic college friend said, "But you can't be Sephardic--you're not DARK." I like reading articles like this for anthropological reasons, but the experience is definitely not universal.

yeah-elle

@siniichulok Oof, it's always good to hear from someone who's had the same experience as you, but I'm also sorry—it's not really the best experience to have in building a Jewish identity.

Have you ever read The Flying Camel? It's a collection of essays about Jewish identity by Middle Eastern and North African Jewish women. Most of the essays are so incredibly far from the realm of my own personal experience, but it was great to hear from Sephardi and Mizrahi women, whose voices are so often ignored.

Inkling

@yeah-elle
You can't just ASK someone why they're Jewish!

siniichulok

@yeah-elle OMG! I can't believe there is such a book! I put it on hold at my library just now, as soon as I was able to stop hyperventilating in excitement! Thanks for the recommendation!!

Moyshe
Moyshe

@yeah-elle ALL Jewish people are the chosen children of Hashem. I feel badly that you, and others, felt ostracized and alienated from your fellow Jew. White, black, red, or yellow you are a Jew and you are my sister and/or brother. B"H

melis

I am going to try hard - very hard - not to derail this conversation with Wet Hot American Summer quotes. Because we've said them all. We have. I know we have. We don't need to bring it up again. And I'm going to try. I really am.

yeah-elle

@melis You taste like a burger.

I'm sorry, I couldn't help myself.

Bittersweet

@melis And I'm going to fondle my sweaters.

Hammitt

@melis No, I just have something at 11, and I can't move it, because I already changed it twice.

stonefruit

Angela Melamud at 12 (or whatever age that is)! You are too, too adorable.

Angela Melamud@twitter

@stonefruit 12! Thank you!

OaklandBooty

I went to summer camp for Jewish ADULTS last weekend. it was (according to the kids who had gone to regular childhood Jewish camp) exactly the same as it was in high school. Complete with drinking beer and going on a swingset to make out at 4am, and then waking up at 9 to make it to services. best summer ever.

amity

@OaklandBooty Is this sponsored by JDate?

OaklandBooty

@amity hahaha, no!but that would have been hilarious. it's an organization called Jewlicious.

LacunaKale

Number one is making my time at Camp Southern Belle sound much better. And that place sucked.

amity

I too went to Jew Camp! My first summer I was a sad, fat 11-year-old who was (at that point) completely uninterested in boys, and got freaked out by the girls who were getting felt up behind my bunk the second night of session and subsequently spent the next few weeks alternately crying and trying to get them to like me. I ended up going 3 more years and got on with a few other maladjusted peers. But nothing will ever equal the terror of being away from my parents for the first time, having no friends, and witnessing things I'd never even heard of in Judy Blume. Also they were all rich girls from Westchester and I didn't even know that it was bad to shop at Sears or wear one-piece bathing suits. I still do both of those things, though.
ETA um I guess we also did Jewish things? It was incidental compared to the tween angst, really.

bskinz

Omg. Honesdale PA. I did a job one summer driving kids' summer camp bags all over the east coast, and we ended up at the Hotel Wayne more than could ever be necessary. Worst hotel in the united states. Now that i think about it, i think we delivered to that camp.

Joshua Siegel

Went to Socialist Jewish camp in PA. It was freaking awesome. Makeout party USA

JuliaIndy

@Joshua Siegel: I went to Socialist Jewish camp in Maryland. (Labor Zionist Youth summer camp to be specific--I won't name the group but you're probably familiar with it) Work before breakfast, eat, work some more, have lunch, regular camp activity rotations in the afternoons, Oneg Shabbat every Friday night and mass campfire for Havdolah every Saturday night. Totally kosher and totally uninhibited sexually and idealogically. Probably the best and worst couple of summers of my life and I was in my early teens.

Decca

Teach me how to daven, t-t-teach me how to daven

whizz_dumb

I went to Tower Hill Camp near Sawyer, MI. The liberal protestant denomination (same as Obama) I grew up affiliated with rented it out for a week. It was fun. We pranked the girls' cabins and scared the crap out of the head-minister when a bunch of us snuck out in the woods and made a camp fire in the middle of the night. Sorry Carol. The last night there in my last year I could attend I got all emo and pout-faced in front of everyone. Even the counselors were like, "jeez don't be such a bummer". I should've been a more uplifting role-model.

TheDragon

@whizz_dumb Pranking the boys' cabin was what I lived for.

whizz_dumb

@Dragon The girls vs. boys aspect was pretty enchanting. I mean we'd gather in gender separated groups about 50 yds apart during the dark end of dusk and sing Taps to each other (trumpet solo helped), then exchange sweet/cheesy poems that melted hearts with group "awwwww"s.

Lemonnier

Camp Dunmore in Salisbury, VT: awesome. It wasn't super religious -- we had kosher meals and Friday night services, and some of the kids went to Jewish day schools, but that was about it.

Some WASP-y camp organization took it over several years ago and gave it a fake Native American name. UGH.

purefog

Camp Greylock, represent.

TheDragon

I went to two summer camps:
(My mom sent me to:) Some super outdoorsy camp. I learned to shoot an arrow straight and gut a fish faster. I LOVED IT
(My grandma sent me to:) Victorian Camp. We had to dress up, serve several course meals, and make it through tea without soiling our gloves. I was asked to leave when I ruined my dress playing in the mud on "language of the flowers day." Obviously, that was not my thing.
I also was a camp councilor/barn manager for two summers in high school at a horse camp. I loved it. I slept in the loft, got to ride twelve hours a day, and a fling with the assistant cook. I highly recommend it. Especially if they are still hiring ridiculously good looking assistant cooks.

hopelessshade

@Dragon VICTORIAN CAMP????

TheDragon

@hopelessshade Victorian camp. I think it could have been really fun, like living in a play, but they took it SO SERIOUSLY.

Hammitt

@Dragon I want to know about this place. ANd work there.

Hammitt

I LOVED CAMP.

But I also only went to secular camps. Both, incidentally, with really really huge Jewish populations, but secular nonetheless. Girls camp and nerd camp. Which made an odd combo because no one at either could understand the other:

"there are only girls?! Are you all lesbians? ANd god, you have to GO TO ANOTHER BUILDING TO PEE? How do you charge things with no electricity?" etc

vs.

"wait, you take classes? In the summer? Voluntarily? But... why? I don't get it. Wouldn't you rather just do double session here?"

They were my two favorite places on earth. I got so damned defensive of both. In fact, I still am. Wanna fight me about Camp Kamaji or Girls or the Center for Talented Youth?

Try it.

JUST TRY IT.

I will kick your ass.

celeec4@twitter

@Hammitt Uuuugh, CTY. I got those brochures every damned summer, and I'd highlight them and leave them conspicuously around the house. Hoping. Hoping.

Some days I ask myself why the hell I'm in grad school, then I remember that I was the kid who begged, BEGGED to be allowed to go to CTY camps and spent hours sobbing in my room every summer when I got Denied.

rai
rai

@Hammitt Somehow I never got those brochures...but now I work for a CTY camp, two summers running. I sit in on their classes sometimes and wonder if (/know?) all these kids are smarter than me.

all the kittens in the club gettin nipsy

@Hammitt CTY made me gay. Or at least expedited the process by several years.

RK Fire

@celeec4@twitter: CTY camp envy! You and I can just go sit in the corner and stew in the injustice of why we weren't allowed togo nerd camp every summer.

I ended up going to a similar, but not as exciting sleepaway nerd camp and got to sit on a boy's lap and eventually kiss him! Oh, being an awkward 13 year old nerd. I tried to track him down on the internet for subsequent years but found out very little.

nowwhat

@Hammitt CTY... seriously the best part of my adolescence. I'd spend half the year looking forward to it and the other half missing it.

calamity

@Hammitt Haha, are you my altar ego?? I, too, went to an all-girls camp and CTY. (Though starting in the summer before 10th grade, I dropped Camp Rim Rock in favor of six weeks at CTY. In my defense, I also went to a single-sex high school, so coed nerd camp was pretty risque.)

Hammitt

@calamity Apparently I am!!

I did come to this horrifying choice after 10th grade: my CIT year at camp, or my Nevermore year at CTY. I AGONIZED. Ended up doing double session CTY.

Man, am I not surprised, but really pleased to find all these CTYers who are now 'pinners!!

Hammitt

@nowwhat Right? CTY withdrawal was pretty much diagnosable.

celeec4@twitter

@RK Fire So much CTY nerd camp envy. As a semi-functional, semi-adult, I recognize that I probably made my parents feel TERRIBLE with the sobbing and moping around the house to the point even promises of library visits made no dent in the visible moping.

...Bible camp just didn't cut it, man. Why must we run around and play games? Can't we just sit here and read? I mean, I'm cool with that. :P

So many terrible tales of VBS.

RK Fire

@celeec4@twitter: Yes, an adult now I fully appreciate that my single mom was a combination of too cash strapped and frugal to send me to CTY or really, to any camp at all. I went to the one knockoff camp one summer, and that was it. At the same time though, all of the CTY alumni make it sound like it was the best time of their lives and honestly, little-social-awkward-nerd me would've loved to be in any kind of social situation with my age cohort where being smart was something to be proud of, instead of something to hide.

celeec4@twitter

@RK Fire Yeah, I just, got shuffled off to the day camp at the church my family attends. Which felt like a worse betrayal to tiny drama-me, because I was forced to run around and play games outside in gross MD summers, and I didn't get to read all day. Recall once screaming down the stairs to Dad about why can't I just go to work with him and answer the phones like always.

The older I get, the more I realize I was a horrendously spoiled brat of an only child. X_x

CTY stories still make me so envious. Used to meticulously plan my classes for each summer, man, so things wouldn't conflict, you know?

Hammitt

@celeec4@twitter @RK FIre I'm so sorry! I feel like I opened a nerd-child can of sad worms. But at least somewhere in adulthood most of us figure out the smart = good equation. But, that said, it's pretty awesome to get it at 13.

I have to say for any moms and dads out there with the cash to send their kids to these places, and the kind of kid who would appreciate it: do it. Just.... now. Just send your kid. It was amazing, and I loved it. Every awkward teen moment - even the most tortuous breakup ever (16 year olds hurt more than real adults So. Many. Emotions.) But it was a big and important part of what made me - kissing awkward boys, talking about books, talking about saving the world, showing affection through masking tape (CTY has weird traditions, man) ... everything.

celeec4@twitter

@Hammitt Oh noes! Its okay, now its more of a humorous, oh lookit my tiny-self's drama and end of the world sobbing. Given time and perspective (and ack the bills for my migraine issues, lolol MRIs) its just absolutely laughable in an affectionate manner.

meaux

"There’s a prayer for the first time you pee in the morning to thank god, I guess, that your bladder is still working all right and all that stuff." That sounds rather lovely to me--to consistently, daily remind yourself to be grateful for little things you might otherwise take for granted. Of course, it's a different ball game if someone is ENFORCING your gratitude ritual. Still, I like the idea.

Xanthophyllippa

@meaux I agree, though I'd rather make an effort for the unexpected things I might take for granted. Peeing tends to happen on the regular whether I want it to or not; reaching a psychic no-harm agreement with a chipmunk, not so much.

(Though I guess it's true that if I couldn't pee and then suddenly could, I'd be grateful. Which was your initial point. Okay, shutting up now.)

Shayna

Oh man, so glad I skipped that experience. Went to diabetes camp for two or three miserable summers, that sucked well enough. My mum went to Jew camp though, and so did all her cousins. And then they all grew up and married people they met at camp.
...
So glad I skipped that Jewish experience.

Jenn@twitter

@Shayna I also went to diabetes camp! I didn't have diabetes, though, my younger sister did...? and I was stuck in a cabin with a bunch of girls who had all been going for years, and it was fairly miserable.

Shayna

@Jenn@twitter You went to diabetes camp but you didn't have diabetes? Sounds kind of awful O.o Was it one of those family weekend things?
Yeah I went before I learned how to talk to people who weren't older than I was, so... miserable.

someofmybestfriends

My parents accidentally sent me to a Christian summer camp once. As in, Pentecostal Christian. It was a really confusing experience for me.

Lisa Frank

Aaahhh!! Jew Camp!! I wish I had seen this earlier!

In 7th grade, a friend of mine convinced me and our mutual friend to go to Jew Camp with her. It was up in the Catskills. It had originally been founded to bring kids from the Lower East Side to the country, but was only serving suburbanites by then. The rates were much, much cheaper than other sleep-away camps which is the only reason that my parent's agreed to send me. Oddly, there was a sign that said "Noblesse Oblige" above the stage in the barn that functioned as the camp gathering place, and the camp director would remind us how grateful we should be to accept their charity. Which was weird because we were middle class suburban kids, and not impoverished immigrants fresh from Ellis Island.
The dining hall was kosher and there was a kabbalat shabbat on Friday nights. On Saturdays we weren't allowed to do anything but sit in our bunks and we'd get bored and fight with each other. Also the three bat mitzvah-aged girls' bunks alternated mornings, when we had to get up early to set the tables and put out yesterdays stale bread for hamotzi. The bar mitzvah aged boys had no such chores. That summer, I also learned that the rules for men's and women's lacrosse are different. I dressed up as a feminist the following fall for Halloween and I don't think that's entirely unrelated.

eva luna

@Lisa Frank

Have you continued to dress up as a feminist every day since then? Also, what did dressing up as a feminist entail? I'm very curious. One of my friends went as Gloria Steinem last year, but that pretty much just involved her looking like herself.

Not that feminists dress in any particular way. I love that my mom had a sign up on her office door by her picture that said "This is what a feminist looks like." Maybe we should all wear buttons to that effect.

Lisa Frank

@eva luna I wore a black skirt, a white shirt and one of my dad's old ties. People thought I was dressing up as a businesswoman, but I schooled them. I try to be a feminist every day, but I haven't worn a tie since.

thatgirl

My father went to Jew Camp in the catskills from, like... 1965 until some point in the mid-70s when he was a counselor? His camp friends are pretty much the only people he spends time with from his childhood, and it's pretty awesome to have people to tell you about when your dad was seventeen and rocking the long hair and also playing tricks on the old Polish lady who was the camp cook.

But it wasn't an orthodox camp, it was for the children of leftist refugees and holocaust survivors, so more about the culture and community.

But mostly Hemshekh is a mystical place where my dad was the kind of guy I would probably have hung out with, which is alternately kind of cool and kind of weird when I see how cute he used to be.

ETA: WHOA I just looked up the camp, and apparently it was A Thing, enough to have a wikipedia article. Next time I have a long car trip with my dad, we may have to talk about this...

siniichulok

@thatgirl That camp sounds pretty awesome.

Geo
Geo

@thatgirl

check this out:
https://www.facebook.com/groups/8135227238/

so, like, who is your Dad? We have a whole bunch of people he may want to reconnect with, if he's not already part of us.

eva luna

While I'm very glad I wasn't send off to an Orthodox camp, couldn't my parents have tried to find a Reform synagogue at least? Only my dad is Jewish, and it's a bit of a sore spot that I wasn't exposed to Judaism at all, except through my dad's personality/ tendency to suddenly remember more random Yiddish words. My cousins, meanwhile, who actually count as Jewish because it's on their mom's side, were taken to Hebrew school by their awesome Catholic father. The funny thing is, my mother would have converted and happily become involved in a Reform synagogue, but my father was more or less accidentally raised Orthodox, so I think he has an aversion to the organized aspects of Judaism.

Cavendish

The chipmunk story is unaccountably making me a little emotional. I think I need to take a walk.

bnna

Jew Camp for me was like a second life that I lived, I spent the entire school year counting down the days to camp, from age 11 to like 22. I attended for 5 or 6 summers and then worked there all through college, its insane to think about how much of my time and energy was devoted to this place. I've gone to weddings where bride and groom are both camp friends...

TheMostHumble

I'm finding some of these comments quite interesting.
As for me, in 6th grade my reformed Jewish daughter-of-a-doctor friend spent the whole school year telling me about her AWESOME summer camp with HOT boys and counselors who talked about SEX. I was on a first name basis with all the people she told me of. I, in turn, spent the school year trying to convince my Irish Catholic, working class parents to send me there, not understanding why I could only get a vague "we'll see..." out of them.
Oh well, I had fun playing manhunt and chasing Mr Softee all summer.

bnna

@TheMostHumble There was this one christian kid that came to my camp for like 2 or 3 summers, he had friends that went there and loved it so he came. I mean we made fun of him a lot

blee

JEW CAMP! I went to a reform camp in the north GA mountains from the ages of 11-14 and then worked there the summer that I was 16 (when all of the other people my age were Mahons/counselors-in-training).

I HATED IT. Though, I did learn how to curse and some stuff about making out.

blee

@blee my #1 camp story is that when I was in the oldest camper group they banned movie nights because a kid had been caught getting head earlier that summer. they finally relented and let my unit have them again but every 15 minutes the counselors would turn on all of the lights and yell "HAND CHECK" while everybody put both hands in the air.

Trilby

I went to a camp where 99.9% of the kids were Jewish and the couple who ran it were Holocaust survivors but we didn't have a single Jewish activity. Unless you count Arts. It was an Arts camp. It was situated in one of the most beautiful places I've ever been, on an island in Lake Placid. It was Camp Minnowbrook. Three of the best summers of my life spent there.

baked bean

@Trilby Ugh that sounds amazing! I never went to a camp as a kid. I would have hated Christian camp, but would have loved any kind of secular camp, esp Art related!

Jess Plummer@twitter

Logging in for the first time just for a Surprise Lake Camp alum high five! Totally didn't know the Hebrew either. *high five*

Angela Melamud@twitter

Logging in for the first time to ::HIGH FIVE:: ya right back.

mollyringworm

But no, seriously, Katie, I love the way you laugh and I love the way your hair smells and I love it that sometimes for no reason you're late for shul, and I don't care that you're bowlegged and I don't care that you're bilingual - all I know is that I would have said no to every single person on your list because I've always wanted you.

mollyringworm

Hopefully your counselors were like the ones in Wet Hot American Summer, at least.

UncleStu

OMG!! SURPRISE LAKE CAMP!! OMG!! Oh the memories.

I had to sign up here just to send greetings to all Surprise Lake Campers. I went there for several years and loved every day of it. It was a Jewish camp but I don't remember any religious activities, or even a mention of religion at all, thank God. We all just happened to be Jews, no big deal.

I wonder if they still serve gop?

Some famous campers were: Eddie Cantor, Neil Diamond, Joseph Heller, Larry King (who also went to my high school - Lafayette in Brooklyn), Nancy Lieberman of the WNBA, Walter Matthau, Jerry Stiller, Neil Simon, Gene Simmons (of KISS), former New York Knicks trainer Mike Saunders, former New York Attorney General Robert Abrams, and me (well, not so famous).

Here's a link to the wikipedia page:

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surprise_Lake_Camp

Tweedle Dumb

I am a Native American (a REAL one with all my papers and shots) but grew up in the city, so my parents were real concerned I understood my "Native" ethnic identity. So, I shit you not, I went to "Native American Spiritual Growth & Culture Camp" every summer, sponsored by the local Native social service organization and mostly staffed by 20-something white hippie social work students (the usual types who want to "help the Natives").

Looking back on it now I see it was bullshit, because the organization was funded by a Christian church, and it was a weird mix: in addition to "camp" stuff like hiking, swimming & bonfires, we'd also have prayer time led by a hippie priest dude who basically just subbed "The Great Spirit" for "Christ," THEN a "spiritual" lecture by a Native elder who told old stories about tricksters and animals and how white people were to blame for everything. We learned to canoe, shoot bows and arrows ("Native" activities!), and the girls learned to weave & make bread while the boys learned to tan hides & drum. But then we'd sing "Johnny Appleseed" at dinner. And then take a sweat lodge before bed. Very confusing really, for a 8-12 year old urban Native kid. I think my parents just wanted to dump me off somewhere for a couple weeks and didn't really understand the creepy Christian missionary element.

I'm now a half assed agnostic, a champion archer (almost made the Olympics) and even play the drums, but reject most of my Native cultural trappings because they are just that. How funny I married a Jew who went to Jew camp and now rejects his Jewishness too. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm........

plampsters

i went to camp tevya in new hampshire. i was constantly picked on, probably because i didn't have a different juicy terrycloth zip up for every day of the week.

Nina Puro@facebook

Does anyone else think something very different when 'jew camp' is all that can be read in a browser tab?
I'm a horrible person.
I always wanted to go, but, well, I am not one of the chosen ones. I probably would've actually hated it.

katiemcgillicuddy

I just want to say I love your picture.

Nina Puro@facebook

@katiemcgillicuddy thanks! Margot 4evah!

katiemcgillicuddy

@katiemcgillicuddy This made me laugh because I meant that I loved the author's picture, but then I saw your avatar and thought, "I just want to say I love this picture". Margot <3

Brobdingnagian Brainboners

I went to Day Jew Camp in NJ - I always wanted to go to sleepaway camp, but never did. Still, I loved every second of it, especially when I was middle-school aged and got to be part of the travel camp. Making out with boys on busses all over the northeastern US and Canada? Yes please!

It was actually secular Day Jew Camp. The community center that ran our program had a separate program for the orthodox campers - Camp Shalom. Lots more davening and absolutely no co-ed swimming.

habschick

Like T.Mockingbird I went to a Jewish Day Camp in NJ. (JCC in Trenton. word.) It was fun, but I always wondered if I missed out on something.
You go to school or birthright and people ask "What camp did you go to?" Ghetto JCC Day Camp in Trenton. word.
There was also the weekend trip to Camp Ramah we took with the synagogue...I remember coming back begging my mom for a bacon cheeseburger. I hate those things. I guess I belong in Trenton.

FickleMoon

I once went to Christian camp (why, mum, why? We never went to church).

The founding seeds of atheism were sowed when they served me a chicken leg for lunch with a whole foot (including toenails) still attached. I tried to take it back and they told me to 'eat around it'.
I bet Jesus would not have been down with that.

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