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Strawberry Fields

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“Ok everyone, change into long pants and put a long sleeve shirt on and bring a pillowcase or something to cover your eyes out to the front the cabin,” my counselor Aiden told us. I asked him why and he just said that the counselors had a special lights out activity planned for us. It was the third to last night at Herzl Camp and the kids in my cabin thought that our four counselors couldn’t surprise us with anything, and that we knew all their tricks by now. They told us to get into a line and to block our eyes and put our hands on the shoulder of the person in front of us. And with that command, we all knew what we were doing: a trust walk. A trust walk consists of walking in a blind line following the direction of the person in front you by holding their shoulders. The only people who knew where they were going were the counselors who led the line.

So there I was holding onto the shoulders of Mosey and leading Max into the great unknown. At first I could tell that we were going towards the “Marp” which was short for the Hebrew word Marpeah which meant hospital or infirmary. After we got to the Marp we made a turn into the woods that I rarely get a chance to navigate. After a couple minutes of walking in the relatively unknown woods, I just decided to stop keeping track of where I was going and chose to just take in the tranquility of the forest surrounding me.

After what seemed like hours of aimless blind walking in the woods, we came to a stop. I could hear the counselors take the kids in front of me one by one and faintly hear them whisper, “sit down and don’t take your blindfold off until instructed.” When they finally came to me they led me a couple of steps away from the group and gave me the same instructions as they did to the other kids. As I sat there alone in my own little universe I started to use my sense of touch to get a sense of where we were. Although I couldn’t tell where we were from the blind investigation I took, I could tell that we weren’t in the forest any more. When I felt around me, I felt extremely tall stalks of grass and the course dirt that it was rooted in. It was obvious to me that we were out of the forest and in a field.

Before I could deeply contemplate where exactly on camp there is a field in the woods, our counselor, Eitan, told us to take our blindfolds off and silently look around at where they decided to take us. When I took my blindfold off, I had a strange feeling of déjà vu. That feeling of when you’re told of someplace and always imagined it, but never actually thought that you would lay eyes on it until your time came. Before I could name what I was thinking of, our counselor Noah spoke.

“This place is the Strawberry Fields this place used to be a huge area where strawberries would grow along with a couple of trees. But a long time ago there was a raging fire that not only wiped out the strawberries, but some of the forest that surrounded it. The only plant life that survived was that small tree that was barely big enough to even be called a tree.” As we all looked over at where he was pointing we realized how old this testimony of life really was when we saw a giant towering tree that could have easily been the biggest tree in the forest.

“This place is a very special place in camp,” my counselor Max continued. “Only counselors are allowed to know how to get here and campers aren’t even supposed to be here. This is where counselors come to relax and escape from the rigors of everyday camp life. We decided to bring you here because we thought that each and every one of you should be in here before you leave camp. So just sit here in silence and reflect on the last five weeks of the summer. I was sitting there when the end of the road really sunk in. Looking around at the fifteen other kids that I was so close to that I could call them my brothers, I realized that in just about two days I would be heading back to Pittsburgh, heading away from every event and memory that seemed to be impossibly crammed into the five weeks that I was there. I realized that I learned almost every aspect about every person I could see. I thought about how much I would miss everyone. As the saying goes, every cloud has a silver lining and the silver lining to this cloud was that there was always next year to see my brothers in person again.

After a good solid ten minutes of reflection our counselors told us to take everything in one last time and to form a line and cover our eyes for the dark trip back. The dark caravan on the way back was silent. Even though no one said it, I could feel it. I knew that almost every other person who sat in that field and reflected were thinking about the same thing I was: the impending doom that is the last day. Although there was still a day and a half left, there was just that nagging feeling of bitterness that the end was in sight. As we reached the cabin, I washed up and got into my bunk I shut my eyes and realized that this summer was the summer where I matured. This summer I became closer with these fifteen other brothers than I actually was with my own brother. As I drifted off into the comfort of sleep, I couldn’t keep myself from thinking and remembering all of the memories that will last a life time, and to see each of my brothers next year to make even more memories that I will never forget.





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