The Canteen is a tribute to all things Jewish sleepaway camp. Hosted by the Foundation for Jewish Camp (FJC), this blog is written by campers, alumni, parents, and camp professionals and is a place to talk about parenting, camp fun, projects, crafts, recipes, and more – all tied back to Jewish holidays, traditions and, of course, camp!
Qwynn Landfield is 15 years old, lives in Yorktown Heights, NY and has been attending Camp Laurelwood in North Madison, CT for seven summers.
I always look back on my camp memories as the happiest times of my life. I was eight years old when I first started going to Camp Laurelwood and I had mixed emotions about starting out. I was excited because I was going to a camp that I knew two of my cousins went to and loved. Not knowing anyone my age there made me nervous – I had never had an away from home experience before. I also had fear mixed in there: I was going to be two hours away from my parents and if I didn’t like it they would have to go through so much trouble to get me. Overall I was looking forward to this new experience despite my fears and nerves. I started packing for camp weeks before the big day and kept adding items everyday when I thought of possible scenarios. What if I lose these shorts? Better bring five more pairs!
The night before I left for camp, my stomach was in a knot with all my mixed expectations and emotions. Finally, the big day came and while I was going through a final checklist with my mom I said to myself, I’m going to be alright, this will be fun. The drive up to camp was the longest thing I have ever experienced; all I did was think about how nervous I was. When I got there I was so confused by everything that was going on around me. There were forms being filled out and people telling me where to find my bunk. I had to walk from the parking lot to bag drop off to the infirmary to my bunk, over here, over there, over everywhere. When I found my assigned bunk my counselor showed me to my bed and my parents helped me unpack. At this point I was so jittery because I didn’t know anyone and my parents were leaving soon. When it was time to hug my parents goodbye I started crying because I was going to be there without them and I didn’t know what was going to happen.
When all the parents were gone, my counselors had us all sit in a circle. We went around the circle saying our names and our favorite candy. Afterwards, when our bunk was walking to the mess hall, one of the girls and I got to talking, my nerves were crushed right there and then and everything started getting fun. I ended up sending letters home a week later saying I made a new best friend. I had some of the best times of my life that summer and found my summer home. I was so at home and always had the happiest smile on, they even put a picture of me on the cover of the camp promotional pamphlet! It was the best experience of my life to start out somewhere new and make friends with people I would end up calling my summer sisters.