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Feeling Nostalgic about Summer Camp

July 19, 2015

This has nothing to do with mediation. I just want to write about something else today.

I joined a Facebook Group called “I Went to a New Jersey Y Camp,” because I DID go to a New Jersey Y Camp!, from 1963 to 1967. See, https://www.facebook.com/groups/2210701066/

So I have been feeling nostalgic reading the posts and seeing the pictures in the Group today.

I was really lucky, thanks to my parents/grandparents, to go to a “Y” Camp for eight weeks every summer for five years.

This was the summer sleep-away camp of the YMHA-YWHA of New Jersey, called Cedar Lake Camp located in Milford, PA, far away from home.

It was run in the Conservative Jewish tradition which was fine with me, as I learned a lot about myself and Judaism in those years, participating in religious services and being immersed in Jewish culture and so forth.

Every summer I had wonderful camp experiences: making friends and renewing friendships, swimming in Cedar Lake twice daily, going sailing, canoeing down the Delaware River, learning photography, listening to short wave radio, weaving baskets and making pottery, sharing comic books, hearing and telling stories, singing songs, performing in plays, having cookouts, growing up.

So let me tell you what I’m remembering (probably not completely accurately) about growing up at camp, this as a result of seeing a posted picture today of an adolescent boy with his arm around an adolescent girl:

It’s 1967 and I’m 13 years old. It’s my last summer at camp because our family is moving to California.

The summer is really “in tents,” literally.

That is, I have graduated from the younger Divisions that are housed in cabins, and am now in a US Army Surplus tent on a wooden platform that sleeps four campers (without the counselor!) down by the lake.

Someone is calling my name outside the tent because I am always a willing substitute for a camper who doesn’t want to go on the canoe trip scheduled for his group (his “Bunk”).

So, I am going.

This time I am lucky. It is a coed canoe trip (the first in my experience), with some of the girls from the same age group down the hill at Camp Nah-Jee-Wah.

And Debbie is going (not her real name).

I’m a little scared but excited because, in my overactive adolescent imagination, she might just be my first camp girlfriend.

Who knows what can happen!

Well, nothing really happened after all.

The canoe trip was three days. Debbie and I canoed together, we ate together, and finally we slept together — but don’t get the wrong idea.

We slept in our own sleeping bags under the stars; Debbie only agreed that our sleeping bags could be in the same campsite together.  We were only 13 after all.

But I had a wonderful time, and I still have great memories, still fueled by my adolescent imagination.

I think that nothing ever came of it between Debbie and me that summer, except that I really felt that camp was helping me to grow up.

And this was a big deal for me then.

So, here’s my thanks to Cedar Lake Camp … and to Debbie … for my really memorable camp experiences.

***

David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California who sometimes wistfully longs for “the old days.” His business website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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From → Bubbe Meises, Stories

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