It sounded impossible.. almost.

On June 1st I received a heartbreaking email from the director of my camp letting me know that my summer job had been cancelled. This was the latest blow in a growing list of disappointments. Corona has robbed so many people of milestone experiences: the end of freshman year of college, prom, graduation, even relationships. How was it that my last year working at camp was also about to be taken?

Unbeknownst to me at the time, Summer 2020 would turn out to be not only the best part of my year, but also one of the best camp experiences I’ve ever had. Thanks to the unbelievable hard work and dedication by the owners and directors, socially-distant “Reunion Weekends” were created. These experiences were set up to mimic a resort setting where families could come and enjoy the facilities and feel the sense of escape that camp offers, but in a safe setting. My camp took it a step further than many others, as my friends and I made up a team of dedicated staff that was able to put on programming and hold special events that were tailored specifically to the makeup of each weekend’s guests. This ranged from a mock color war for alumni, to socially distanced Zumba, to a 9th vs. 10th grade basketball game, as well as many other classic camp activities. 

Going into the summer, my friends and I did not have the highest of expectations. There was a good chance that we could work for a week or two and then be sent home for a variety of reasons, including a potential outbreak. The fact that no other camps or facilities that we had heard of were even attempting to run programming like this added to the apprehension; most camps had just opted to remain fully closed for the summer. However, to my pleasant surprise, camp this summer managed to surpass my highest expectations. I worked for the entire month and there were no health issues whatsoever. 

On top of being able to work in my favorite place, being able to spend time with my favorite people after four months of quarantine was even more special. For many of my friends, camp was their first proper social interaction since we had been sent home from college in March. This also meant it was their first time playing group sports, eating meals together, and not having to wear masks around other people since we were all quarantining together. Another highlight for us staff was that we lived with each other, like being campers, instead of in separate cabins, which was a privilege none of us thought we would ever have again. The aspect of camp that I was most thankful for this summer, was that it provided me with a glimpse of a long-awaited sense of normalcy. To be in a place that has always signified security and happiness is truly something I am immensely grateful for. 

Of course bringing hundreds of people through a facility during a pandemic is a challenge, so it took a lot of cooperation on the part of the guests and staff in terms of health screenings, COVID testing, temperature taking, social distancing, enforceable mask wearing policies, all combined with a set of procedures in the event we were confronted with any health problems. Camp this summer proved to me that with the right policies in place, it is safe to do the activities we loved pre-corona; we just have to adapt.

Cover photo: Sylvie Kirsch