As I've said numerous times on this blog, the friends I made at summer camp, as both a camper and a counselor, are like no other friends from any other part of my life. If I run into someone from camp—even someone I wasn't terribly close with!—we embrace as if we were long-lost siblings. Whenever there's a camp "alumni" party, I don't care who I'm seated next to on someone's couch or patio, because I feel at home with nearly everyone from that place and time in my life. There was, and remains, a magical quality to every relationship that started at camp.
At age 15 I was in the oldest group of campers, and we got to be the Color War captains, spend Trip Day in Ogunquit (while everyone else went to Canobie Lake Park—how juvenile!), go out to the movies at night once or twice, and so on. The next summer (1978), when I was 16, I went on the camp trip to Israel, which was just as amazing as you can imagine. This weekend some friends were posting photos from that trip, and I dug up a few of my own. They're mostly very faded and damaged from poor storage, but I just had to share this one:
Yup, that's me on the far left, with a few of my camp friends and an awful lot of delighted Israeli soldiers. We had just visited the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, where we wrote little notes of prayer and thanks on tiny slips of paper and wedged them between the ancient stones. That's why we were wearing long skirts and long-sleeved blouses in the blistering heat—women are requested to dress respectfully when visiting sacred sites in the Old City. You can just barely see that I'm wearing the typical sandals one buys at the souk (or suq, for you Scrabble lovers!), which is the Arab market in Jerusalem, where you have to haggle over everything just like in "Life of Brian."
Steph goes to that same camp, and many of her friends are the children of my old friends! She was in the oldest group this past summer, which she declared the best summer of her life. She's still thinking about whether she wants to go on the Israel trip next summer, at least some of which depends on who else is going. The decision will be completely up to her—we will be thrilled to send her, and at least a little relieved if she chooses not to go, I have to admit.