Last summer was my first summer at Camp Eisner in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. iAlthough many of the people in my age group had been going to the camp for many years, I've never received such a warm welcome in my entire life, anywhere! The very first day I felt completely comfortable with the forty-five other kids in my age group (going into grades ten and eleven). There are two one-month sessions. In my particular age group and session, it was a special time: we traveled to Montreal, Canada where we slept in a youth hostel, went sightseeing to many famous places (including the stadium where the '76 Olympics was held), and had a great time at the Mount St. Sauveur water park, and La Ronde (a huge amusement park). On the way back, we stopped at the Ben & Jerry's Factory in Vermont for free tastes of the finest ice cream, as well as a tour of the factory.
Even though Eisner is a Jewish camp (don't stop reading now, the best is yet to come), the approach to Judaism is different from any temple. I am not a big fan of being Jewish. I've done my best to avoid more Hebrew School, but at Eisner, the approach to religion is wonderful. The Friday night and Saturday morning services run under an hour and are written by the campers. A theme is chosen for each service (friendship, death, elders) and each cabin has a turn to write original pieces or choose a reading from a book, magazine or song. Judaism becomes more personal.
Putting all those things aside, there are sports, baseball, archery, tennis, basketball, volleyball, swimming (an Olympic-sized pool), arts and crafts, dancing (modern jazz, etc), photography, drama, and a camp radio station (found on your FM dial). The most memorable aspect of camp are all the friends. The people there are the nicest, friendliest, most open and most out-going I've ever met. We all keep in touch: everyone calls, writes, and visits regularly. I've traveled to New York three times this year to see my friends from camp.
Camp Eisner changed my life and many of my views about things. It made me take a closer look at people and inward at myself. It's no wonder all those people keep returning. I've never been to a place like Eisner, so I'll just have to go back every summer. n
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.