Miss you already
If you’re a Romacan, on the 7th Friday of the camp season - wherever you are in the world - there’s a lump in your throat and a pit in your stomach. An old alumni counselor said it best - “I woke up this morning and didn’t know why I felt so sad, and then a few hours later, I realized today is Departure Day at Romaca”. While you’d think that a story like that (one that details the everlasting connectivity Romacans share no matter how much time goes by and no matter how much they grow up) would make saying goodbye easier, it doesn’t. Nothing does.
Nothing makes the all-around-campers of each division understand how “two days used to seem so far away, now a year passes by in the blink of an eye”, as Romrec’s campfire song “Storybook” explains. Nothing makes the 5-year-veteran counselors comprehend how they have to tear down a world, a home, and an escape from reality that they’ve worked for 7 weeks, let alone multiple years, to create so that their girls feel like they belong, in just a 1 hour timespan on an arbitrary Friday morning. But what shakes us to our core the most is that nothing eases the pain that the camper who spent the first 3 weeks homesick, or the counselor who thought this was just a summer job in between college semesters feels when they can’t explain why they suddenly don’t want to leave, or why they wish this summer could have lasted forever.
Over the past 2 years more than ever, we’ve learned that time is such a social construct. While the COVID era has brought us the convenience of working from home and a greater ease in keeping in touch with long-lost family and friends, it’s also brought us tons of let downs; since March 2020, you can graduate high school without a real graduation, get Bat Mitzvahed without a physical service, and even practice for a sports team (virtually) without ever stepping foot on the field for a game. In other words, we’ve become so conditioned to believing what was always a guarantee isn’t going to actually ever happen because of all the cancellations we’ve suffered. So when Summer 2021 rolled around, we could barely allow ourselves to get excited as a defense mechanism. What if this was going to be another letdown? What if this would be cancelled too? And because we were apprehensive to get excited, it barely ever hit us that we were living, breathing, and experiencing Romaca when we finally were…until we weren’t…which enabled us to let precious moments pass us by.
We sat silently at the breakfast table, barely awake, letting precious time go by each morning, with the unfortunate knowledge that 49 silent 1 hour breakfasts per summer amounts to 2 full days of camp “wasted” because we were too tired to talk. We spent some rest hours in solitude trying to recharge after long mornings of simulation, knowing that someday we’d regret “wasting” time on our own that we could have spent together, once it was already too late. And we stayed seated during a few “Shake Your Booties” because we were too tired to get up on our chairs from staying up too late the night before, never realizing that all too quickly we’d jump at the chance to stand up on our chairs once more on even less sleep, just to be together again. But that’s the point. It’s not possible to cherish every moment, it’s not possible not to blink, and it’s not possible to take nothing for granted. In fact, the reason Romaca is so special is because it becomes so casual and comfortable that we DO take time for granted. We watched your girls run around camp holding hands with (new and old) friends; conquer the high ropes course and beam with pride; jump off the Wibit (for the first or hundredth time); make up songs and dances and run each morning to be the first to flagpole. We have seen so much growth and perseverance and special bonds formed between camp sisters; girls and their counselors; and whole divisions coming together.
So if your daughter came home tired and cranky, or a little dirtier than she left you on June 26th, please cut her even just the tiniest bit of slack, because behind all the tears and “I don’t know’s” to every question you’ve asked her since she’s stepped off the bus, she’s mourning the loss of a 7 week life lived face-to-face, not over Zoom. Or maybe she’s trying to remember what the 2 month-long fantasy in which she held hands, sat on laps, and hugged her friends was like, now that she’s forced to rejoin a world where she must build relationships and grow into herself behind masks - one that she’s so sadly become accustomed to over the past 2 years without even realizing it. Or perhaps she’s slowly understanding how much more real camp is than the “real world” during an ordinary summer - in its reliance on real laughter and on telling your friends you love them to their faces, not writing “lol” over text message even if you’re not really laughing or sending a heart emoji to replace the good, old fashioned “I love you” - let alone during a pretty lonely two years; because even during the rainiest summer we’ve seen at Romaca yet (just ask your girls!!), Romaca was still more normal than the world outside our bubble is.
Instead of absentmindedly scrubbing the chipped paint off her nails, ask her about the impromptu Free Play spa day with her bunk that caused it. Instead of quelling her chronic laryngitis with cough drops, ask her to sing you the song that made her lose it, one that she quickly threw together to pass the time during Rest Hour on a rainy day, but that she’ll remember for the rest of her whole life long. And instead of shoving her off to bed way earlier than her bedtime tonight so she can catch up on sleep, tread lightly; her eyes are tired from a 49 day sleepover with her best friends that she’ll be desperately missing these next few nights…and we’ll be desperately missing her right back. Already counting down the days till 2022!
All our love,
Carly & Debbie