This past summer, I chose to go to CLTC and to the sleepaway camp I’ve been going to since I was 8. I thought it would be a thing I would want to do one time and just another way to keep busy over the summer that had been recommended to me by a friend. Instead, I became more involved in BBYO than ever before and met people I still miss months later. By the end of my time at CLTC, people were planning meet-ups with promises of seeing each other at IC and next summer. This is where my troubles began.
I already had plans for the following summer to go 8 weeks with my sleep-away camp (4 at camp and 4 in Israel). My friends and I had wanted to do this since we were 8 and saw the cool older kids on camp going on their prior trip. This meant that I could not go on any of the BBYO summer trips, as they would take all overlap with my being at camp. While my friends all had to decide which summer program they would choose to do, I had to consider the possibility of leaving my childhood summer camp in favor of the people and experiences I had for only 12 days.
In the end, I ended up deciding to stay at camp because the experience of going to Israel with my lifelong friends was truly something I could only ever experience once. I have never regretted this decision, but I am filled with guilt every time I get an email from BBYO international about signing up for new trips or when a younger friend asks me about my experience at CLTC, and I describe the absolute joy I felt only to also have to explain why I’ll likely not get another BBYO summer experience.
Going on CLTC was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I got to feel more connected to my Jewish identity and BBYO as a whole. I made friends I’ll keep in touch with forever, and I came out of my shell more than ever. I would recommend the experience to everyone; however, I would also implore them to keep in mind the fact that they will miss their friends more than they think, and it may be harder to choose to never return to a summer program than they think. However, what is good for me and BBYO members who double up on camp experiences to keep in mind is there will always be IC, and there are other ways to stay active in the Movement and keep up with your friends year round.
Shira Preis is a BBG who lives in Atlanta, Georgia, and she loves to dance and write in her free time.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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