August 9, 2017
Days like today bring me the energy I need to stay fulfilled at LAJF. I arrived at Camp in time to volunteer for kitchen teamwork. Elbow deep in suds, the camper next to me took a moment to welcome home the campers from the hike. Though they have only known each other for two weeks, she felt their absence and missed them. I distinctly remember that feeling from each and every summer I spent at Camp. That notion of quickly forming intense friendship felt familiar.
During project time, girls sawed and hammered, climbed on ladders and felt the satisfaction of doing something they, just two weeks earlier, never conceived of. I listened as Project Sachems deliberated about their plans; how many people will it take, how long will they need, can they work through SST? As they worked together to build a staircase to the star gazing tower, I noticed a nearby bench I had built in 1997. Their desire to leave something lasting felt familiar.
On Tent Hill, during rest hour, there were a large group of campers who went silent as I got close. Their hushes and giggles prompted me to ask, "what are you talking about that you think I haven't heard before?" They finally explained and it was a topic that I clearly remember being discussed when I was a camper. Their "girl talk" was familiar to me.
The sachems of tomorrow discussed their plans with me, explaining why the campers needed a late wake-up, and yes, they had cleared it with the kitchen. Like so many sachems before them, they were excited and nervous to lead and serve the community. This too felt so deeply familiar.
In the Camper's Lounge, I sat with campers working on a puzzle while one camper played the drums and another the violin. They practiced a duet that was unexpected and soulful. All the while, the campers explained to me that the hiking trip made them miss Camp and they can only begin to imagine how much they will miss it at the end. This scene and sentiment was so incredibly familiar.
Throughout the day, I recognized so many CRS moments. The only word I can think of to describe it is familiar. Any alumnus, from any year, would have recognized the actions, the discussions, and the feelings.
This is a good place and I feel so deeply grateful to be part of it. Thank you to everyone who makes it happen.
-Helene Mattera, Executive Director