Sunday, July 3, 2011

The son becomes the father, and the father becomes the son

It was the last Tuesday of June, 1979. I was twelve years old, and a newly "entering 7th grader". The car - my parents' '79 Oldsmobilve Delta 88 Royale, in which I'd learn to drive a few years later - was packed to the hilt (well, not really, as the trunk was big enough to use as a dwelling for a medium sized family). Mom and Dad were driving me and Eliot off to summer camp for the first time. I don't recall what my thoughts were as we headed west to the Berkshires for my initial visit to URJ Eisner Camp (where I would spend the subsequent 10 summers). I do, however, remember exactly the moments of welcome when we arrived. A young counselor (Adam Marshall, I believe) helped shlep my stuff in bunk 11, and I was greeted by three fellow campers (Mike, Michael and Jon) who already had a couple years of camp experience between them (of all wonderful things, I'm in touch with each of them - to some degree or another - to this very day).
Looking back - there are a few things I know for certain. Attending camp for those years remains a most powerful building block in my life. And for a young Jewish kid less than a year away from Bar Mitzvah, it was clearly the most significant leap I'd ever taken in developing my own sense of self, and Jewish identity.
Skip to today. This morning, our family of four heads off to Wisconsin for two glorious weeks at URJ OSRUI. I am privileged to serve on faculty (very cool, kinda ironic), while our kids get to soak up the experience of being campers at the best place on earth. Granted, this is not their first year...yet as we finish packing the magic bus (our 2011 Honda Odyssey could easily fit into the back of my parents' trusty ol' Olds :) I am touched by the idea that Ben, now a newly entering 7th grader, is now subject to the same hopes, fears, uncertainties and enthusiasm as every such kid must be, less than a year away from the milestone of Bar Mitzvah. It's crazy I know, but closing my eyes, my opening moments at camp were like just a moment ago. And yet it's truly been a lifetime and more. I simply hope that Ben will also grow to cherish these times like no other...

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