by Marissa Harris ’22
Sleeping in bunks, tie-dying at arts and crafts, overnight trips, and hugging your best friends are all things kids look forward to each summer when they go to camp. However, with the Coronavirus pandemic, the vast majority of camps have shut down this summer.
I go to a Jewish summer camp called Camp Louise in Cascade, Maryland. This summer was going to be my eighth summer, and I was supposed to be going for 4 weeks. Last Wednesday, camp families received an email that our second home can not open this summer. The announcement left many devastated.
With many camps shutting down this summer, the leaders are figuring out ways to keep in touch with their campers throughout the summer and school year. For example, Camp Louise has been having trivia nights, coloring sheets available with different camp designs, and recipes available for the campers. Also, starting at the end of June there will be activities throughout the summer on Zoom for the campers to participate in. Some might be arts and crafts-related, while others are athletics. The directors are hoping we can have a day at camp in a couple of months if the virus gets better.
The leaders of Camp Louise have also had some Zoom meetings to discuss the future months. I am at an age where we have leadership training at camp so the director announced we will be having programs through Zoom about three times a week this summer. Fees will be retained for leadership training but the rest of programming will be free. We will also be having training about once a month throughout the school year. These virtual training sessions are meant to prepare us for CIT summer, when we will be Counselors in Training for seven weeks. Also, there will be opportunities for my age group to lead the different activities for the camp on Zoom this summer.
One cherished aspect about Camp Louise are the traditions. Many families are generational, and the camp has been around for almost one hundred years. A tradition that my age group would have taken part in this summer is leading Saturday night Havdalah, which represents the ending of Shabbat. We would also get to pick a special song. These traditions are two that we have all looked forward to since we were younger. Someone in our recent Zoom call mentioned this concern, and we now will be doing this virtually on Zoom. The camp will be having Havdalah on Zoom this summer and we will get to lead it.
Camp Louise organizers are determined to make this summer feel special as much as they can. It has been hard for many to experience a summer without camp. “I’m very upset about camp being cancelled even though I understand the choice,” said Lexi Rubin, who is an incoming freshman at Walter Johnson High School. “I’m most going to miss waking up to super fun songs and just living in the moment every day.”
In March when the pandemic first hit the United States, we all thought it was a two-week break from school, and we were still excited for summer and camp to arrive. As months passed we all started to get an idea that maybe camp would not happen, but we all tried to stay positive. The message hurt all campers and families, but we know it is the best decision to keep everyone safe and healthy. And only one more year until summer 2021!