Looking Back. Looking Forward.
As Camp Chi celebrates 100 years of camp in summer 2021, it will also be 50 years since my first summer being a camper. I can still remember learning to canoe properly, karate lessons, Maccabiah games and leaving the dining hall with my ears ringing after meals–so loud with cheering, singing and spirit. My best friends in life are those I spent summers with as staff at camp, and I still hear from campers of mine from 40+ years ago. Camp is a special place and I have been at some great camps, but Camp Chi leads the way.
Each day at camp is filled with so much activity and many experiences, yet the time seems to go so fast. We have a camp saying, ‘The days seem like weeks and the weeks seem like days.’ In many ways, the years seem like minutes. Although I missed a few summers over the decades, I have had some amazing experiences over the years–snow in June, getting stuck in a town actually named Nowhere, hiking in the Grand Canyon, canoeing on the Colorado and even a fire forcing my camp at the time to relocate coincidentally to Camp Chi for the summer. None of those years or experiences prepared me, or Camp Chi, for the summer of 2020…the summer of Covid…the summer we cancelled camp.
We knew the right thing to do was to not to run this summer. Once the decision was made, we immediately thought, how can we do camp differently, while staying safe? The passion and dedication of the Full Time Team quickly allowed us to change direction and offer Chi Family Getaway. In the matter of a couple weeks an outstanding staff was brought in. Brandon Hults, Nicole Hults, Anna Ramirez, Zach Klein, Adam Gadiel, Blake Finkel, Marc Luban and Lexi Dockman all came to camp and worked maybe even harder than other summers to make an experience the participants will remember and cherish for years to come.
The feedback on the program was immediate and very positive. Families loved getting away and basking in some Chi Magic. Days were spent boating, getting a little pool time, having a family art project and taking part in typical Chi summer experiences like EP’s, campfires and a Chi style Shabbat. With each week filling up and families returning for more than one weekend, we knew we had something special. We heard more than one preschooler say they can’t wait till they can be a Chi camper. Alumni reconnected with camp after years, even decades, of not being involved. Campers who were supposed to be at Chi for the first time got a chance to fall in love with camp before trying it out on their own. And campers and staff who have been at camp got to share their home away from home with their family. It was a special experience, part of a special summer in a very special time.
As much fun as we had, we can’t wait to be back at camp next year for our centennial summer! We want the sights, sounds and smell of a full camp….the inflatables on the lake, fires burning at OC, flying clay, sawdust floors and messy things at A&C, song sessions, Shabbat dinner and SIT meals on Saturdays, flagpole, Shabbat at the amphitheater, and a beach filled for Chi Burning.
We can’t wait for Summer 100 and hope it is the start of better and better summers to come for the next 100 years.
Director of Camp Chi