Reminds me of Camp

Among the responses to my first blog post came this wonderful paragraph from Laurie Zee: “Was walking around my neighborhood …it was early in the day and I was lookin around for my adventurous children…..I was walking thru a tree lined path, just after an early morning rain and there was a crisp lovely chill in the air……..and I smelled Camp Monroe. Closed my eyes and breathed it in.”

It got me thinking. What exactly reminds me of camp? So I decided to undertake an interesting exercise. While visiting Seville last week, I designated one morning in which I wrote down every specific thing that evoked Monroe. Some of them were pretty obvious, some of them surprised me, but each truly made me smile. Here’s my list, along with accompanying stories:

Bunk Beds: I shared a bunk bed in a hostel with my friend Leon and I realized that I often took them for granted as a camper. Bunk beds mean camaraderie. They mean closeness. They mean intense sharing of life experiences. The opportunity to share bunk beds gives you the opportunity to form a distinctly special relationship.

Grilled Cheese: To this day, I always look forward to grilled cheese day at Monroe. Though I have matured through the years, my approach to eating grilled cheese remains the same as when I was 8, joyous and mildly childish. I always have contests with friends to see who can eat the most.

Gazebos: I was never on Stanley Cup and I don’t have a very personal relationship with Monroe’s gazebo, but it is one of those essential distinguishing features of camp’s grounds. In fact, the grand gazebo in Seville’s Alcazar (old palace/fortress) was the first I had ever seen in the outside world.

Sweating: Most people don’t like to sweat in everyday life, and I can understand that. But I do. It makes me feel healthy and active and alive. Camp makes me feel healthy and active and alive.

Napping: The siesta is an institution in Spain, and Shabbos Menucha might be the most important time at camp. I love being busy, running around, being involved in everything, but I need that break to refresh my mental state.

Dave Matthews Band: The first band I truly loved was brought to my attention in bunk H in 1998. My counselor, Zach Scott Dicker, introduced them to me. He also brought a drumset into the bunk for a bit. I played classical piano for 8 years when I was younger, but when I was thirteen I decided I also wanted to pick up another instrument. That was a big influence.

Though probably subconscious and almost definitely undocumented, I’m sure that everyone who has been to Camp Monroe has a unique, yet equally meaningful, list of things that are reminiscent of camp. I am a positive, energetic, live-in-the-moment type of guy. On the surface this talk of memories may imply a preoccupation with nostalgia, but it’s not like that for me. The memories and associations don’t replace experiences, rather they enhance them, deepen them, make them more profound. And I believe that my life is therefore all the more rich. There are few places that can make such visceral and long-lasting impressions on people; Camp Monroe is definitely one.