My Summer Home
For most people, going away to summer camp without your parents and your phone might seem weird. For me, that’s what I do every single summer. On Father’s Day, I take a bus from a local high school to Camp Chi, a Jewish sleepaway camp in Lake Delton, Wisconsin. I spend eight weeks on a lake, surrounded by beautiful woods.
Every year, my friends question me about why I leave for the summer. They want me to stay at home with them. Camp Chi has been my home for the past eight years. I have spent over 48 weeks there. I spent four weeks at camp during my first three summers. For the last several years, I stayed for all eight weeks. Summer camp is basically in my blood.
The summer before eleventh grade is what everyone at camp dreams about, the staff-in-training (SIT) summer. SITs are the oldest campers in the main camp, training to be the future generation of counselors. Last summer, I had the honor of being a SIT 19. I was a part of the biggest SIT class year ever, with 116 eager and excited campers looking forward to becoming camp staff. Over the eight weeks, we learned a great deal about successfully running a summer outdoors camp. As a SIT we are assigned to a cabin or group and serve as backup counselors. We can also choose to work in a specialty area. I am a lifeguard and worked on the waterfront. Additionally, we work on service projects around camp and participate in leadership workshops. There are many, many traditions associated with the SIT summer. These mysterious traditions cannot be spoken of to any other campers. The secrets, rituals, and traditions are one of the best parts of being a SIT.
Camp over the last eight years has helped me grow up. I have overcome missing my friends and family. I have learned to live well with a group of strangers. I love the feeling I have when I go back every summer and see my friends. It’s as if we never left. I feel like I belong. It’s also non-stop fun for eight weeks!
In the summer of 2020, I would have been a specialist at camp, who manages an activity that campers can choose to do. About 95% of our camp’s specialists come from around the world, including Israel, Australia, France, and the United Kingdom. I was going to be a lifeguard at the Cove, a waterfront area with kayaks, paddleboards, and inflatable trampolines and slides.
I will admit I was a little nervous because it was uncommon for an American staff member to be selected as a specialist. I think I was chosen to work as a lifeguard because I took initiative and got my certification over the winter break before my job interview. Unfortunately, Camp Chi was closed for the summer of 2020 due to the pandemic. Fortunately for me, I was invited to camp to work during their family weekend in September. It felt great to be back! Next summer will be Camp Chi’s 100th anniversary year, so the summer will be even more special. I can’t wait to be a camp specialist at my home away from home.
Stephen Vozar has been a Camp Chi camper every summer from 4th grade until his SIT summer in 2019. He’s now a senior in high school in Bloomingdale, IL and is excited to attend High Point University in North Carolina starting Fall 2021. This coming summer, you should be able to find him working as a specialist at the Cove at Camp Chi.