Written by: Jake S.
Imagine yourself surrounded by unfamiliar faces that are more welcoming than any single person you’ve ever met. That’s camp. Well, my experience at least.
My plane ride was blissfully uneventful in the panicky, airplane-kind-of-way. When the plane set down in Newark, I was almost in a dream. A bearded Israeli stood at baggage claim with a lettered sign reading “TEL YEHUDAH PICK UP.” He introduced himself to me as Edan. He was the first of many, MANY names I would have to remember. My brain would be overwhelmed by the thought of remembering 500 names.
Who knew it took so long for a bag to move from the airplane to the baggage claim? That made me laugh, because I thought of that dumb joke about airplane food. You should laught too; that’s a funny joke. My two massive bags finally came out of the mini-plastic car wash. You know the thing.
I dragged my bags to the corner of baggage claim, where every Young Judaea camp has ever situated themselves in an airport. Lo and behold, a plastic table stood in the corner with three people sitting behind it in TY shirts. I checked in and they gave me some bracelets, one for myself and two for my bags.
The sheer amount of campers compared to Midwest blew my mind. Hundreds of us! Isn’t that crazy? There were about five buses, people driving to camp, and counselors who arrived early. The realization that I would meet a majority of these people throughout just 28 days ran over me like a truck. I actually sat down, I was so shocked.
After recovering from my small epiphany, I introduced myself to some friendly strangers wearing bracelets. It was scary. A million bad reactions flew through my head. What if they thought I was weird? Crazy? A lizard dressed as a person? Forget that last one. I would learn later that introductions were reliant on confidence. The more confident and happy you are, the more people like you.
I had an inkling of that idea, though, so I approached with a smile. We had friendly conversations and other pleasantries and laughed. The realization that I was going to be at a new camp hadn’t hit me. The bus came, but just as it left, an old friend from Midwest stepped onto the bus. We hugged and sat together near the back of the bus. A new friend, Hannah, sat with my friend and me for the long two hour bus ride ahead of us.
Well, it ended up being a bit closer to three, but who’s counting?