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!
I have a confession to make: I am deep in the middle of post-summer camp blues. Campers and staff, and possibly many Canteen parents, understand this feeling. It’s different than being knee deep in post-summer blues. The post-summer blues (which usually come around January and February) suggests missing the feeling of grass in between my toes on the athletic field, or the cool feeling of the lake on a hot day. For me it is distinctly different than the August and September post-summer camp blues. The post-summer camp blues are the camp memories and feelings I can remember so vividly it could have happened yesterday. Only camp ended three weeks ago and school is just around the corner. The post-summer camp blues are when you obsessively make plans with your camp friends for every free weekend, and you sing the Birkat Hamazon in your head (or out loud) after every meal. Sentences frequently start with “this summer at camp…” Eventually, as school picks up, these feelings start to fade. But for now, the post-summer camp blues are in full swing.
Last week, as I was really experiencing the post-summer camp blues, I got a text message from my summer roommate. She was going to be in Boston as part of her post-camp American travels, and she wanted to meet up. I met her, her boyfriend, and two other summer staff on a quiet, sunny day in Harvard Square. We spent the next couple of hours wandering around downtown Boston, and it was just the type of fun I needed. Even though I hadn’t been close with everybody traveling in the group (the consequence of being in two different departments during the summer!) it still felt right. We might not have all spent time together during the summer, but spending an afternoon together laughing and joking about all the absurdities that happen at camp felt like home.
As a camper, the days after camp ends were always filled with sleepovers and play dates with just camp friends. My friends and I would spend hours together in my living room laughing over nonsensical inside jokes and singing camp songs in an effort to re-create that effervescent summer feeling. And maybe you would be surprised to know (or probably not, given the readership demographic of this blog!) but as a staff member, we crave the same thing. Every summer, in the weeks after camp ends, my Facebook newsfeed is clogged with photos of staff taking post-summer trips together. In fact, just this week I scrolled past a photo of two camp supervisors sporting their staff t-shirts at the very top of Machu Picchu. I found myself unable to contain my smile at the sight of them wearing their camp shirts in Peru.
Summer is over, and while we are all deep in the middle of post-summer camp blues, the magic of camp is currently being re-created both in living rooms at home and the far reaches around the world. My summer home might be closed for the next ten months, but the people who embody its spirit are really just a phone call or mouse click away. How lucky are we? As a camp person, you are never too far away from the people you call home.
Pronounced: beer-KAHT hah-mah-ZONE, Origin: Hebrew, Grace After Meals, the blessing thanking God for the food.