Opinion: What we learned from camp during COVID-19

Elliot Bramson and Eitan Malkus

While we didn’t expect much from a COVID-ridden summer at Camp Ramah New England, we actually gained more from this unusual camp experience than any other past year. Returning to camp after a canceled summer, we learned to live every moment to its fullest and to be grateful to be at camp during such a turbulent and unprecedented time.

Leading up to the summer, it was unclear how camps would reopen amidst the pandemic. COVID-19 infections were declining in the US, but many regulations still remained in place. Fortunately, the Pfizer vaccine was approved for teenagers about a month before camp, which eased many of the restrictions.

Arriving at camp was an eerie experience. Being back on the familiar campgrounds after two years was strange and seeing them filled with coronavirus testing tables was even stranger. Once we all tested negative, we were sent to our bunks, giving us hope of normalcy as we saw new and old friends and began to enjoy the camp experience. 

However, this was short lived when we learned many of our favorite activities, such as out of camp trips and an annual sports competition had been canceled. People were questioning whether the summer would measure up to others and how we would spend the extra time. 

However, as the summer went on, we started to realize that missing these specific days or activities didn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. What mattered were the memories we made every day; whether we were participating in traditional activities or not became irrelevant. We still had our friends by our side during a time where many people were unable to travel to family or leave their homes. 

Without wearing masks or having to social distance,  we felt a new sense of peace we hadn’t felt in over a year.  With so many things going on in the outside world,  it was so refreshing to have a break from all news or media. Knowing our time was limited in the camp bubble and we would have to return at some point to the real world brought the uniqueness of camp to a whole new level. 

On the last weekend of camp, our age group performed a traditional song and dance in front of the camp, one of the traditions we were still able to carry on from summers’ past. We were able to appreciate being in the moment and understanding that we were just grateful to be able to experience our last summer of camp, not caring about what had to be canceled and what we didn’t get to participate in. 

While we may not have expected the summer to turn out the way it did, we think it was for the best. It allowed us to fully live in every single moment and appreciate the little things in camp because we knew before long we would have to return to the harsh realities of the COVID-19 pandemic. And we definitely had the best summer ever.