Is It the Place That Connects the People?

November 6, 2023
Ella Marks

Northbrook, Illinois, United States

Class of 2026

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Throughout my years at sleepaway camp, Beber, I have often heard the saying, “The people make the place.” Although the people enhance the experience, I believe it’s the place that makes it so special.

Living in the North Chicagoland area results in most of my friends going to sleepaway camp for parts or all of the summer. Like most of my friends, I have been going to sleepaway camp for the past five years at Beber in Mukwonago, Wisconsin, which was the previous spot for BBYO’s leadership training camp, CLTC. This past summer, I went to Beber for 8 weeks, and they were some of the best weeks of my life. At Beber, one of the values instilled in us as campers is Kehillah Kedosha, meaning Sacred Community. Because of this value, I felt extremely bonded to my cabins during all of camp. Still, after arriving home at the end of summer, I realized it was the place that brought all of us together that made my Jewish sleepaway camp experience so special. 

Any location in one's life can hold value, from somewhere you went on vacation to the building where you attend school every day.  Your special place could be a house, your Synagogue, or the local JCC. Each location can impact you in a special way. Once you acknowledge your special place, you begin observing how this location impacts your emotions, which is something I only started to notice after leaving camp this summer.

Camp is a special place because it allows people to take a break from the real world. You get sucked into the magic of song and activities. You develop special bonds with your counselors, and they eventually develop into your role models and people you look up to. You watch the golden sunrises that light up the camp’s lake and end your days singing around a campfire. Through these experiences, sleepaway cabins become like families, but it is the camp that brings them together into this unique setting.

Once you leave, you realize how much you adapted to the routine, how much the place means to you, and how much you miss it. You add a countdown until the next year to your home screen, and group chats fill up your phone with inside jokes and pictures. You hear a song that sends you back to a good memory, and it ends with tears in your eyes. You long to go back to your camp because it was the happiest you had been all year. Camp adds value to your summer. It helps you grow as a person and learn to be independent while getting to be whoever you want to be. There are not many places you can do that with no judgment, which is what makes camp so special.

Camp provides an environment that is different from others. It allows you to grow and bond with others over the special place. Whether a camp has 100 or even 1,000 campers, look around you. It’s the little things that make your camp experience, things that hold meaning, and appreciate them because you never know when they may be gone. Learn to appreciate the place because it truly creates a unique connection for its campers. You will soon realize that while the people are great, it is the place that makes the people.

Ella Marks is a BBG from Northbrook, Illinois, and is a figure skater.

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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