There’s a Bon Jovi song I love called “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” If you’ve been around a while, you may have heard me use it in one of my earlier camp montages, and… SPOILER ALERT… I can’t imagine not using it in the next one. It’s almost too perfect. The only difference between using it now vs. then is that it used to be a rhetorical question.
Over the last few weeks, we spent six days on the Hill hosting every age group at camp, including one day just for the staff. Saying it was so nice to see everyone doesn’t even begin to cover it. It was awesome. There was so much of it that felt normal. Campers and counselors hanging out together on the Big House porch, playing cards or just talking. Softball on the A Diamond. Hoops on the Frankel Court. Swimming in the S.A.C. Walking (climbing) up from the waterfront and being reminded with every breath how insanely steep that part of the hill feels when you’re not in camp shape.
And yet, there was so much that didn’t feel normal at all. At Bauercrest, “Family Style” doesn’t just describe how meals are served in the Mess Hall. It’s how we live. Because of that, bringing our own food, socially distancing, and wearing masks at camp feels exactly the way it does when we do it in our own homes, with our own extended families. Not unnecessary. Just unnatural.
By the end of each day, I didn’t have one more “OVER YOUR NOSE!!!” left.
That said, they’ve still been the best days of summer so far.
I have family and friends who do a lot of amazing things while I’m at camp. Beach houses, boats, weekend getaways. Micah, the kids and I have gotten to do more of that this summer than in the last five summers combined. I guess maybe a little part of me had always wondered if I’d been missing out. Well, the results from this mandatory little experiment are in: NEGATIVE. What I do miss is not having to worry about what my kids are going to be doing EVERY SINGLE SECOND OF EVERY SINGLE DAY. At the beginning, I would call my friend Amanda every morning and ask the same question, word for word: “So… what do you normally do on a day like today?” Eventually she stopped answering the phone.
My kids have been at Bauercrest since they were 8 and 7 years old. They don’t know how to do summer without it, and neither do I. There’s been a lot of fishing. A lot of golf. Far too much screen time. Endless complaints of nothing to do, yet ironically, no time for summer reading. We have not been on our best behavior. I am not sure we are meant to live in the same space for 22 months in a row. In fact, I’m quite certain we are not.
Early on in the quarantine, when we had already run out of (nice) things to say to each other and desperately needed a change of scenery, we drove up to camp. When we got to the gate, we saw a car we didn’t recognize with a Bauercrest sticker on the back. It turned out to be an alum Micah had gone to camp with and his son, who would have been a CI this summer. It had been weeks since we’d been out of the house; we were ecstatic to see anyone, never mind people we knew and liked. We made the trip to camp multiple times after that, and ran into alumni, counselors, or a current camper family every single time. It got to the point where we stopped being surprised by it. I think we all just wanted to be in a place that made us feel like everything would be ok. It worked.
Anyone who’s ever called Bauercrest “home” knows the answer to Bon Jovi’s question. And we don’t need to click our heels together three times to know there’s no place like it.