Farewell 2023

The buses as they pull away on Departure Day. The speech you hear about your friend as she wins All Around Camper. Closings at Secret Show. “All for one and one for all” after Romaca Relay. Jumping on your friend as she becomes winning Olympics captain. Screaming the lyrics to a 90s song in a circle with your arms around your friends at DJ Jeff. Sitting in the audience as a younger camper finds their confidence during their Lip Sync routine. Watching Romrec run into the Dining Hall on Arrival Day.

From Day 1 to Day 49, why do we always cry? If this is our happy place, then why are we often so sad? Why do we put ourselves through something that hurts so bad?

With the exception of Departure Day, most, if not, all of the above events are happy moments, not sad ones. We cry from gratitude - for a place that breeds the perfect combination of belly laughs over your best friends’ quick wit and comfortable silence as you hold their hand while walking across camp. We cry from connection - for a group of people who make us feel like the most authentic, confident versions of ourselves. And we cry from pride - for a friend receiving recognition or finding their voice.

A bus in a parking lot on a Friday morning in mid August isn’t the least bit gut-wrenching until you remember everything that very bus will be driving away from…the sense of belonging and independence you feel as you look around the bunk during Clean Up while each of your friends is engrossed in their own daily routine, separately living their lives together. The self-assuredness you feel at camp while walking around alone when you can barely go to the bathroom by yourself at school. And the perfect storm of humility and authority you feel when leading your parents around somewhere only you know on Visiting Day. It really is the happy moments that not only make the heartbreaking ones break your heart, but are ultimately sadder than the sad ones. The coveted “Romaca feeling” comes from being a part, not breaking apart.

So if you’re reading this, please know that it’s okay for your daughter to cry - not just when she’s ripped out of the world she feels safest in this very morning, but all summer long - when she bickered with her bunkmates, when she saw you on a FaceTime call, or even when she was unhappy with her part in the play, the outcome of an intercamp, or the girls she was placed on a team with for an all-camp activity. In fact, it’s more than okay; her tears are proof that she isn’t complacently sleepwalking through the summer camp experience you’ve so graciously provided her with.

Throughout the winter, when your daughter loses sight of the confident girl she was on the Trashion Show runway or the fearless leader she is on her Dining Hall chair, please remind her that it’s cool to cry because it’s cool to care, to anxiously await a cycle of high highs - like the adrenaline she feels when she finally performs her Romrec DJ Jeff dance - and low lows - like the pit she feels in her stomach once Olympics breaks out and she knows it means the end is near - and to feel, rather than to get sucked into a summer of neutrality, where she perfectly tows the line between enjoyable days at the beach being followed by fun parties at night, where she’ll avoid becoming susceptible to caring about something deeper than the way others perceive her Instagram, or the resume builder that a summer internship could potentially be.

If she ever doubts that the uncertain emotional roller coaster we call Romaca is worth it, as opposed to the consistency and certainty of summers, and life, outside of it, reiterate to her that complacency is not fundamentally more chic than feeling, caring, crying, loving, and singing. Stress to her to never be ashamed to try or to be. Carelessness and effortlessness may look better on her Tik Tok feed than crying over an Olympic sweet or sitting on a counselor’s lap while they braid her hair at age 7 and 15, but the people she’s met and will meet spending her summer engrossed by the latter over the former will give her a feeling of fulfillment in ways that complacency never could.

Throughout the winter, when your daughter begins to withdraw rather than confide, or put up a seemingly unaffected facade rather than let her guard down about the way she’s feeling, please remind her that there’s no harm in being vulnerable. Remind her how much she gained from showcasing her enthusiasm for the traditions she holds so dear by pouring her heart and soul into learning Secret Show song and dance even though it holds no bearing in the real world, or from demonstrating the love she has for the friends she met in her little corner of the sky by having difficult conversations amidst tears on Adirondack chairs over a small miscommunication in the bunk. It would have been easier for her to spend her summer at home, emotionally static and sane, completing summer reading and training for soccer preseason.

But I hope she knows that just like falling in love with another human being, falling in love with a place, an experience, a group of girls, and the person she is at this very time with these very people lends itself to the risk of her heart being broken in a way that emotionally “safe” scenarios don’t; the anxiety of getting a little sick of her best friend during Week 5 because she’s spent every night and day by her side, or the unavoidable sorrow that the sound of sniffles and sobs through the final Friends and Pals at the Waterfront on Wish Night brings are inevitable in an experience as emotionally demanding as Romaca.

Your daughter must know that when the choice comes between living a life of stability, neutrality, and complacency OR withstanding the tears and the heartbreak in exchange for the euphoria of turning her bunk into a haunted house or writing a silly song with her best friends about her favorite counselor, we’d choose the latter for her every time. If the 18 year old first year counselor who missed their high school graduation parties, last summer at home before college, and who leaves for their first year at school 3 days after Departure Day could summon up the confidence and strength to see past what others think of them as they trade a summer filled with boys and partying for songwriting and spiritwear, so can your daughter.

Now more than ever, we understand that Romaca, you’re almost like being in love.

Until 2024,

Carly, Lisa, & Schmaier