What This Summer Is

  • I woke up yesterday morning to a notification on my phone: Merrimack Valley Staging. Most summers, this is the company we use to set up the stage lights and sound system in Elbess. I say most summers, because this summer isn’t like most summers, and this notification was another painful reminder of that. Tomorrow is supposed to be Opening Day of the 2020 Camp Tevya Season, Tevya’s 81st summer. I couldn’t let today go by without acknowledging where we, as a community, were supposed to be.

    Today is Tuesday, June 30th. Our Support Staff were supposed to arrive at camp three weekends ago and would have been working hard getting camp in shape and bonding as a team. Two weekends ago, we would have welcomed our international bunk counselors to their summer home from all over the world. A week ago yesterday, our Senior Staff – our Head Counselors, Department Heads, Programming Team, Office Staff, Nurses – would have reported to camp for the summer. Last Wednesday, June 24th, was supposed to be the start of Staff Orientation – the day our bunk counselors arrived to complete our summer 2020 staff family. This past Monday, our first ever Kadima Teens were supposed to arrive at camp, ready to bring our new Kadima Village to life. Tonight, we would have had our End of Orientation Staff Bonfire – a moment to look around the circle at our Counselors and realize two things: 1) The amount of team growth that happens in under a week never ceases to amaze me, and 2) Our campers are lucky to have such amazing, caring, dedicated counselors. In between all of this would have been boat inspections, ropes course inspections, and organizing food inventory. Cleaning bunks and buildings, setting up departments, camper elective assignments and counselor schedule finalizing. Activities to enhance our growth mindsets, create a welcoming camp community, and expand our comfort zones. The forming of new friendships, the creation of a new staff team, and so much hard work, sweat, laughter, (and probably some happy and stressed tears already).

    Tomorrow, July 1st, I’ll wake up to another notification on my phone: Opening Day 2020. Tomorrow, we were supposed to be welcoming 350 campers to a summer they’ve been waiting for since last summer. Tomorrow, campers were supposed to be piling into their cars, sandwiched between duffel bags, giddy with nervous excitement as they embarked for 03033. Cars were supposed to be lining the roads through camp, and friends were supposed to be reuniting with joyful hugs as they ran full speed towards each other. Counselors were supposed to be greeting parents and warmly welcoming campers to their summer home. Parents were supposed to be hiding their emotions behind sunglasses as they hand over their most prized possessions to those who would become the most important people in their lives: their child’s counselors. Games of 4 Square that had been on pause for 10 months were supposed to resume. Our Kitchen Staff was supposed to be making over 1,100 grilled cheeses by hand for our traditional Opening Day Meal. The Dining Hall was supposed to be bursting with Tevya spirit – joyful, loud, incredible Tevya spirit – as we ate our first meal as a Tevya 2020 family. Elbess was supposed to be bouncing with music, laughter, and cheers for Opening Night Department Skits (“Don’t run on the docks… WAM!”). New friends were supposed to be made, old friends were supposed to fall in step like they hadn’t missed a beat, and new memories were supposed to be shared. And that’s only what tomorrow was supposed to be. Just one day of camp. It’s really hard to not think about where we were supposed to be tomorrow. We were supposed to be at camp, together.

    But here we are. All of these events (and so many more) of what was supposed to happen are still entered into my Google Calendar. I won’t be removing them anytime soon. They’ll serve as reminders of what this summer was supposed to be, as well as reminders of what this summer is. This summer is an opportunity. It’s an opportunity to look for silver linings in a challenging time. It’s an opportunity to connect with family and friends in different, meaningful ways. It’s an opportunity to exercise resilience and creativity. It’s an opportunity to take stock of things we might normally take for granted and remind ourselves how grateful we are to have those things in our lives. It’s an opportunity to work a little harder to think of others, reach out, and keep individuals connected to a group. It’s an opportunity to step up to a series of challenges and respond in ways we can be proud of years from now. It’s an opportunity to stumble from a setback, and then come back even stronger. It might not be the opportunity any of us ever wanted, but it’s the opportunity we have. From missing high school graduations and other end of school milestones, moments of social growth and development, travel experiences, having so many DLD, BTC, and KTY dreams altered, and just all of the purely fun life moments that’s supposed to come with this time of year… it’s been amazing to watch how our community of campers, staff, parents and alumni have responded so positively to this opportunity that nobody wanted or expected. I have no doubt we all will continue to make the best of this situation for ourselves, our friends, and our families.

    So, I’ll be leaving all the summer events saved in my calendar as reminders of a summer that didn’t happen the way it was supposed to, and as reminders to respond in a way I can be proud of. But, they’ll also serve as reminders so we don’t forget to plan them for next summer, when camp is ready to welcome us home again.

    With Tevya Spirit,
    Ben

One response to “What This Summer Is”

  1. Gayle says:

    Thank you Ben. For sharing your reflection with us. It’s amazing you find these profound words to share with us. Thank you for acknowledging our collective loss. It is still quite unimaginable that our 2020 season is not happening and our campers and staff community will not be together. The loss is immeasurable. But thank you for reminding us and encouraging us to be connected, be creative, be resilient and be in TEVYA spirit. Most of all to work hard and to plan for next summer and TEVYA welcoming us home again.

Leave a Reply to Gayle Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*