This is one of my favorite times of year. Not for the weather…I’ve always despised the heat (which I know may surprise some of you considering my Florida roots). I love summer for a different reason ~ camp. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, I could sit and watch the children who attend our Camp Shalom play for hours. Their excitement is contagious. And I smile knowing they are creating memories that will last a lifetime.
Last week, I had the pleasure of witnessing two of our community members bring three very energetic little girls to camp. Cheryl Carne and Debbie Feldman had each done this before. Their own children attended camp at the JCC when it was located at the Philips Building. Now, 30+ years later, they had the opportunity to experience camp though the eyes of their visiting granddaughters.
While the location may be different, many things are still the same. Children still experience the joy of splashing in water, going on field trips, playing games, and making new friends. Even some of our teachers and staff are the same!
I was speaking with Cheryl and the topic of the next generation came up in conversation. I asked her what it meant to her to be able to watch her own daughter’s children experience the fun of summer camp. Here is what she shared with me:
I was fortunate enough to raise my family around other families who had children the same age as my girls (Abra, Natalie, and Eve). Rick and I formed incredible friendships that remain strong to this day, and our children did the same. While many of us parents still live in the Dayton area, our children are spread throughout the country, including my own. We relish the opportunity to get together as a group with our children and grandchildren. Even though many of our grandchildren are young, I can already see friendships developing between them.
Last week, Rick and I had the privilege of having our two granddaughters, Maya and Dora, with us for a week. In the past when they have visited us in the summer, I have brought them to camp. This year was no different.
Every morning, I would make lunch for myself and the girls, and off we would go to the CJCE. I would bring them downstairs and explain that CC (their name for me) would be upstairs working.
They had so much fun. On the way home they would tell me about their day and the new friends they made. It just so happened that Debbie Feldman’s granddaughter, Ava, was also visiting for the week. Debbie brought her to Camp Shalom and Ava and Maya had a blast together. They were also fortunate enough to have our friend Melissa Sweeny’s grandson Leyton in their group. Perhaps next year even more of our friends will bring their grandchildren to camp, and our little grassroots “grandchildren go to camp” group will grow!
One of the most memorable moments, and one that made me reflect on the importance of programs like Camp Shalom, happened on Maya and Dora’s first day of camp. Miss Cindy was teaching Maya’s group. It just so happened she taught my daughter Abra ~ who is Maya’s mom. Maya looked at Miss Cindy and asked, “Did you change my mom’s diaper?”
My own daughters carry precious memories from their days at summer camp. Now, my daughter’s daughters are making those same memories. I’m am touched at the priceless relationships Maya and Dora are forming. I consider Debbie one of my dearest friends. My daughter Abra and Debbie’s daughter Amy are wonderful friends. And now, despite many miles between them, Abra’s daughter Maya and Amy’s daughter Ava are friends. I feel incredibly, incredibly lucky.
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