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Home Away from Home

Elky Pascal

Don’t cry, she commanded herself. Don’t cry! She then confronted the greatest question of all. Why was she going to camp in the first place?

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

 Mishpacha image


I t was drizzling lightly when the large coach bus pulled into the muddy camp grounds. Chani gazed out the window with a gloomy face. Everything was going wrong that morning. Her outfit didn’t look right. Her duffle bag had torn and she had misplaced her favorite zip up. And why exactly had she spent an hour blow-drying her hair? The rain had turned her hair into a frizzy mess. Everyone else seemed to have so many friends. She could hardly find anyone to talk to or to sit with on the bus. Even the girls she was friendly with from school — and she was counting on them to be her friends! — had seamlessly drifted into clusters of chatter. Chani just couldn’t keep up with them.

She swallowed hard and bit her lip. Don’t cry, she commanded herself. Don’t cry! She then confronted the greatest question of all. Why was she going to camp in the first place?

“I feel my heart beating fast even as I think back to that difficult day,” recalls Chani. “It was tough. Missing my family was difficult. Settling into a bunk room full of unfamiliar girls was challenging. Adjusting to the camp life — the schedules, social pressures, and lack of home amenities — was not easy. Did I have fun in the end? Yes, I did. There is a certain ‘magic feel’ in camp when things are going great. But the summer was not all blissful. Homesickness was something I had to contend with throughout the entire summer.”

In retrospect, was it worth it?


“The good times did overweigh the stressful moments,” she replies. “Camp is just something I wouldn’t give up. I was back the next summer and the next. Thankfully, it got better over the years. But I’ve learned that missing home is normal. Lots of us, even the macho ones!, went through it at some point.”


For some teens, the Fear Of Missing Out sets in at camp, especially when their families are up to big and exciting things on the home turf.

Dina recalls the instance that she felt helplessly homesick in camp; it was the Shabbos when her extended family got together for a reunion in a nice hotel. “As soon as I heard that all of my cousins would be going to a hotel in Connecticut, I begged my mother to let me join. I cried on the phone and I pleaded with her, but she didn’t let. In any case, the camp probably wouldn’t have let. That Shabbos in camp was pretty lousy. I couldn’t enjoy myself because I kept thinking about the smashing time my entire extended family was having without me. It was a classic case of FOMO.”

In Esty’s case, she missed out on the excitement of her sister’s engagement, and that felt awful. “Yeah, sure I was there for the vort,” she shares, “but I missed out on all the action — the actual engagement, the set up, the aftermath, the chassan coming for Shabbos. When I pulled up at the vort, I felt like a guest at the simchah, not like the kallah’s sister! That definitely dampened my summer.” (Excerpted from Mishpacha Jr., Issue 671)

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