Joanne Cohen, Camp Swig 1980-1992, Camp Newman Nefesh Faculty 2010- Present
The magic of camp is impossible to describe but, when you experience it, it is so easy to understand its impact and importance. The relationships, being in nature, the laughter, the pure joy, the music, the inclusivity…it all comes together to become the beauty of what Jewish camp truly is. The anticipation of this summer and returning to Porter Creek was incredibly exciting. In my eleventh year working on the faculty at Camp Newman, I have experienced two years at Cal Maritime and one Pandemic summer. I missed the hills, the warmth and the smells of this beautiful campsite. The one constant throughout everything was the people. We always had the people and this year, we have staff and campers who are so excited to return or arrive for the first time to see what the magic is all about.
Just like the campers, each year I get the chance to see some friends from the past as well as connecting with new ones. Working at camp definitely keeps us young. I have always loved seeing the kids of some of my camp friends from Camp Swig who are now on staff or coming as campers. This year, I was struck in the first week by how many kids of alumni were here. I’m not sure if I didn’t really notice this before or if more are attending than usual. Each time I spoke to someone whose parents went to camp, they pointed out someone else they knew who had parents who also attended. The list kept growing and I was curious to see just how many were here.
One Saturday, we decided to gather all of these children of camp alumni for a photo. I figured their parents would love to see all of them together on our social media page or in a message. I knew there were a lot here, but after a few announcements to gather for a photo, I was floored by the size of the group. It was beautiful to see this huge group of campers excited to share this bond. Some have parents who attended for one or two years and others, like my kids, have parents who spent decades at camp or are still here. The amount of time and when their parents were at camp does not really matter, but it was incredible to see the l’dor v’dor (generation to generation) come together in a photo. The reality is kids who are the first in their families to attend camp feel just as much at home here and hope to start the tradition in their families of sending their kids to camp. Here at camp we hope to see this tradition continue as well for years and years to come.