Camp Chi is My Family’s Tradition
“A place you’ll never forget. A time you’ll always remember.” -Indian Summer, 1993
It was 1980 and big hair, break dancing and friendship bracelets were all the rage. But for me, it was where my JCC camp story began. Unbeknownst to me, it was the beginning of a family legacy and my profession as a day camp director at J Camps’ Apachi Village and Apachi Skokie at the Mayer Kaplan JCC.
After years of listening to my two older brothers tell stories about Camp Chi, I was finally 9 years-old and able to go to camp too. I spent the next 16 summers at Camp Chi as a camper, SIT, unit head and SIT director. It was an experience that I will always treasure and that has had a profound effect on my life in so many ways.
At camp, I had the opportunity to build my own community of friends, many of whom I still call friends today. I was able to experience new things that, at the time, were so out of the box for me and (and my friends) that it made our bond that much more tight and unbreakable. I remember with great fondness the counselors, campers and all the traditions that only a TRUE Camp Chi camper would know and appreciate. It was a place where I was able to unwind, think, laugh and grow up.
I have taken my love of Camp Chi and passed it on to my three children, who now count down the days until camp starts, celebrate the day that the luggage tags arrive and continue our family tradition. Now I watch the three of them get on the bus with such joy that only someone who has been to camp knows. I love to hear them as they talk to their camp friends about the crazy things they should bring for dress up days. I watch them pack decks of cards, Mad Libs, string for friendship bracelets and put their all-important phones away because they wont need them or even think about them while they are at camp. I see the love in their faces when they say, “Thanks, mom, for sending me to camp.”
It’s become their home away from home, as it was mine. It’s not easy being a kid these days and my children, like most others, have had their challenges. Each time they rise to the moment with a strength that I know that camp has helped them find. Having my kids go to the same camp that I did is such an extraordinary gift. I love knowing that they are doing the same activities and programs that I once enjoyed so much. We walk the same paths together, sing the same songs and make similar memories; ones they will cherish forever and, hopefully, pass on to their children. Besides the amazing friends they’ve made and the fun they’ve had, they too have grown up. They have become more independent, self-reliant and more responsible.
I know that I am the luckiest mom in the world to share this wonderful place and time with my kids. We talk about the same places, activities and traditions. There is something magical about summer camp, especially one that we can share together as a family.