2 very tired offspring.
10 loads of laundry.
1 blissfully happy mom.
No, make that counselors. Yes, after 11 years of writing a check to that haven in the adirondacks I am happy to say BOTH of my kids are staff members this year.
But the joy of not paying is tempered by the fact that for the first time in 11 years I will not be attending visiting day. And though I am sad that I will not be able to visit with my kids I could be equally heartbroken that I will not be able to eat the best fried chicken on earth and those heavenly little lemon meringue tarts with the little dollop of whipped cream on them.
Seriously, this is Time to Cry Tuesday so let me squeeze out a few tears for you.
We have aged out – for the second time in our lives – from a place that holds such intense memories that its culture is ingrained in our family as much as, if not more, any other piece of us.
I look at this picture and wonder, how can this be them? Wasn’t this just us? (note the Grateful Dead T) Ok, Gary’s beard was way more impressive (Danny is partaking in the great facial hair experiment). But I look at this photo and I know exactly what they are feeling. How the air smells first thing in the morning. How the lake tastes. The sense of belonging like no other from a place that is rival to none. For us still!
I look at those faces and the passage of time is so evident. (and I think what good money was spent on the orthodontist). Yet I could conjure up what a day at camp feels like as if I attended last year. So could my mom (yes, she went there too). And of course I have that tug at my heart that asks, “what happened to my little campers?”
I know they appreciate every minute. Jana surely did not think she would be there again this year. And they are forever grateful that we gave them this gift.
They are giving it right back with this image. Thanks guys for bringing us back, yet again.
We love you both, more than life itself.
It is that time of the month again, no worries, I am not talking PMS. This is the monthly installment of the list of wild and crazy search terms that land readers on this blog. For those who missed the past installments you can read Vol. 1 here , Vol 2. here , Vol. 3 here , Vol. 4 here and you guessed it Vol. 5 here.
Feel free to click on the links. Don’t worry, we will wait while you read the past posts.
10. does hamster cry This was one of my favorite posts. To refresh your memory, or whet your appetite, this post featured a hamster playing the piano. And the famous comment from my daughter reminding me how we froze the dead hamster in a box in the garage freezer until the spring thaw. (true AND yes, scary)
9. dog shakes smoke alarm No the dog did not shake the smoke alarm. The sound of the alarm made HER shake.
8. ny sleepaway camp for abused children G-d no! This poor reader is either misguided or was rather disappointed when they found my blog.
7. hungry tampons Um, ew! This could have been many posts as I have written about tampons a whole lot. Probably something I should take a look at.
6. men wearing tampons See what I mean. Every month I have dozens of search terms about tampons. But this one definitely landed on the Obama wearing tampons post.
5. fat old men in bathing suit This was a favorite Gary post. And in the dead of winter after yet another dumping of snow I don’t mind looking back on that beautiful beach day in August.
4. joys of pantyhose Oh, ladies, don’t we all know the joys of pantyhose. You guys should really be jealous. I love linking to this as it was my first post EVAH! And looking back on it, this could have been one of the funniest.
3. cucumber girls Oh girls, you will LOVE this cucumber!
2. moms orgasm Yeh, well, probably should think about why someone would put those two words together and sit down for a little search.
1. palin condom This one just never gets old for me!
That does it folks. Another month of reminiscing!
For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.
Sorry, third time in as many weeks that I am posting about loss. However, this one is quite different.
Sunday I had the pleasure (yes pleasure!) of attending a memorial service for someone who helped shape the woman I am today. Actually, not just me, but hundreds of women through the 60s and 70s. This woman, Alice Sternin, was the director of the summer camp I attended. I have posted about this idyllic place from my childhood before, as both my children are fortunate enough to share in the legacy.
I have never attended a service where there was as much laughter as tears. The essence of this woman was described by countless speakers. Everyone in the room shared the same memories of this tiny woman who was larger than life.
People traveled from all over the country. Family and friends spoke. One after another, stories were shared that sparked long forgotten memories for each one of us . When her famous lines were quoted, the entire room joined in unison. Treasured camp songs were sung and tears were shed for the loss, not just of this woman, but the childhood jewel this perfect place had been for all of us.
My daughter has had the good fortune to have had this same experience. The following is an excerpt from a letter I wrote to Jana and her girls at the end of their last summer as campers. This sums up what this woman built. And her legacy will carry on long after she is gone.
You are so very lucky to have this piece of your life. Camp is something that you cannot put a label on. There are no words to describe how you feel when you are with your girls. How the sight of the lake and mountains fill your heart in a way that nothing else in this world truly can. The essence of camp is ingrained in each and every one of you. It is part of what makes you who you are, and believe me, who you will always be. We are all beyond lucky to know these feelings.
Leaving is never easy. All these years later I still tear up as I walk out of camp and drink in one last moment of the place I love so much.
Never, NEVER, take this place for granted. Hold it close and it will never let you down.
Today, as I sat with MY girls so many years later, I felt the full weight of those words.
Here’s to you Big Al! The toughest camp director in the East. With the biggest heart! You will be dearly missed, but rest easy, your legacy will never die.
For photo enthusiasts, visit Leaving the zip code, photos from outside the comfort zone.
No, Danny has not learned to be a drug dealer at camp – although he did seem to feel awfully comfortable handling cash! Jana thought this looked like an evidence photo. I particularly like the hanger sticking out of his head.
During our trip to the fundraiser at camp we had the complete joy of being part of the afterglow. The two girls and two boys who co-chaired, spent the better part of a day engaging in the most fun part of the the afterevent…
counting the loot. This is akin to forgetting how awful labor was once you see the baby.
They sat in the house of one of the camp directors, sorting and counting the cash. And we got to watch! They were so excited. There is always a big competition between the oldest boys’ and girls’ booths. This year the boys beat them by about $100.
Now get this, the take on just these two booths was almost $15,000!!! I am blown away. Last year’s event raised $40,000. (they are hoping to beat that number). The money is donated to a number of charities, many that are children focused.
Of all the things these kids learn at camp, this could be the most important one.
Now, whoever keyworded ‘lazy jew parents send their kids to camp’ to find this blog, I challenge you to defend your point!
(I’m back – for those of you who might have missed me) Just returned from 4 days in the Adirondacks visiting the kids at camp. No cell service/no internet! More on that at a later date.
Throughout history there have been revivals of a ridiculous sideburn fashion called ‘mutton chops’ for the obvious reason that the guy looked – well, pretty much like he had a little lamb hanging off his face.
For some reason – probably just because they can (or in some cases, kinda can) – 16-year-old boys at my son’s camp try out the growing of facial hair. Danny embraced this custom with a little more enthusiasm than his genetics would allow. (see above) He made a valiant effort at a goatee as well. Seemed there was simply more space than hair for the poor guy.
That said, on first seeing my daughter and asking how her brother was doing she said, “ his facial hair is soooo not ok.” She is usually very supportive but in this case I have to admit she was not too far off.
When I saw it, I was amused by the fact that my youngest was actually old enough to make this attempt. As the first day of visiting progressed we received all sorts of commentary about ‘Levinson’s Chops’. The older guys and most of his peers were supportive. The girls? Hands down felt they had to go. There were even requests to his counselors to shave him in his sleep (I think that was made by my daughter).
Danny? He appeared to enjoy the discussion without showing any signs of ego. I love this guy. He rises above it all and has a good time with it.
Saturday morning they were gone. I assume he was proud of his first attempt, felt the need to share it with us, but had grown tired of the growing.
This whole thing made me think, wow I am the mom of a facial hair grower. There I was, visiting the place I loved so much as a child. A place where so many rights of passage occurred in my own adolescence. This was our last visiting day at camp! Next year he will be a counselor. And she, well, she may be ready to move on after ten years.
Right there it occurred to me that I was aging out of this camp for the second time in my life.
I suppose you never stop the bittersweet job of growing up.
As I mentioned in my Jeep packing post, BOTH my kids left this time.
Sleepaway camp, that kidtopia in the mountains of upstate NY that they dream of all year. 10 for 2 translates into living 10 months in anticipation for the 2 that they are at camp.
For anyone who has never experienced this, and certainly parents who did not have sleepaway in their childhoods, it sounds absurd to send your kids away for the summer. Mine both started at 10. It is his 7th summer and her 10th! She is a third year counselor and group leader and he is a waiter. Waiter/waitress summer is the ultimate summer at this camp. They define themselves by this year, he will forever be an ’08 and she an ’05. I met someone recently who went there and he told me he was an ’88. I had to explain to others what that meant.
At breakfast yesterday a friend asked me to explain this camp. What was the lure that kept these kids coming back year after year, some well through their college years, others through grad school and sometimes beyond if they are teachers.
This friend happens to be the grandmother of 2 ‘legacy/legend’ counselors at the boys camp. One of them is 24, has graduated UPENN and taught in South America for the past year. My point being, this is no lazy slouch. In trying to explain, I told her this:
To start, I went to this camp. I know first-hand what keeps them going back. My husband, brother, in-law siblings, cousins and even my mother and aunts went there. My kids are known as third generation (a prized status, I might add). There is actually a fourth generation family. We are very jealous.
So what is the IT? The best explanation would be the sense of family, of belonging to a place and it to you. A culture of acceptance that no matter who you are or where you come from, this place is yours. Athlete, musician, artist, actor, outdoorsperson, offbeat personality, wise-ass – they are all accepted and embraced equally for who they are. This place is the level playing field where kids form relationships with other kids they would otherwise never hang with. Relationships there last a lifetime. Our kids are friends with the children of our camp friends!
Many camps can make this claim. But when you see generation after generation sending their kids, the proof is in that action. Some claim it is a marital dealbreaker. If the spouse does not agree to send their unborn kids to this camp the wedding is off (you think I am kidding, don’t you?) A few years ago I asked my son why one of his counselors did not come back and he said, “oh mom, he had to be a lawyer” This kid had been in law school and still going back!
30+ years later when I step foot on that turf I have a sense of coming home. Of being somewhere that makes me feel that I have finally struck a balance.
There is no greater joy than to watch your kids experience that kind of childhood euphoria that you have known. When they tell you about their time there, they know that you fully understand. It is a bond that transcends the parent-child relationship. You are them and they are you. What a gift!
It is bittersweet when they leave us now. They are at an age where they do not compromise our lifestyle, rather they enhance it. When they were younger (and needier) we counted the days to have our time to ourselves. Now we feel the void in a different way, maybe one of foreshadowing.
But we still have the same response when other parents ask us what we do all summer without our kids…
Whatever the hell we want!