Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | March 30, 2013

Memories of rain in summer camp

As I look outside my kitchen window and watch the rain come down, I can’t help but think back to those rainy days way back in Summer Camp up in the Berkshires. Those were some storms we had. I remember being in my bunk with all my friends and the rain pounding on the roof over our heads. All the outdoor sporting events would be cancelled and we’d be thrilled to stay inside and do nothing. We’d play games, trade baseball cards, read comics and just hang out. Someone would open a secret stash of smuggled candy and we’d fight over it. Pillow fights would break out and fart wars and the longer we hung out in that bunk the more stir crazy we’d get. Until finally, we’d break free, run outside into the raging rainstorm and run as fast as we could down the hill and slide on our backs. We’d mudslide down this one steep hill as more and more campers from other bunks joined in the fun. Soon, there’d be dozens of kids running up the hill and sliding back down. A muddy groove would emerge where grass had once been and all of us would be covered head to toe in mud.

After what seemed like hours (but was probably just a few runs), we’d head down to the lake and jump in to wash the mud off us. Then back up to our bunks to change into dry clothes.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | March 29, 2013

Rest Hour at camp

I remember back at camp how much we all hated Rest Hour — the hour after lunch when we were forced to stay on our beds. The thought of it now makes me laugh because I’d kill to be able to take an hour out of my day to relax, read the paper, maybe even take a nap. But back then we were up in arms. How dare the counselors make us sleep. You can’t force someone to sleep, we’ protest. How young and foolish we were. An hour out of our day with our bellies full laying on our bunkbeds reading comics and hanging out. Boy, talk about a rough life. And we’d complain no less. What were we thinking?

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | March 25, 2013

Time for Summer Sleep Away Camp

It’s hard to believe that it’s that time again- – camp. My kids are talking about it, their friends are talking about it and the warmer weather is getting everyone thinking about the summer. In my house, summer means sleep away camp. As soon as the temperature outside hits 60 or so and the sun comes out my guys are outside playing sports and schoolwork becomes a distant thought. In their heads they are already up in the country in their bunk with their camp buddies.

It seems like a week ago we were outside in the backyard building igloos with the two feet of snow we were hit with. Now the coats and gloves and boots are put away and the tennis raquets, soccer balls and baseball equipment is out in full swing (no pun intended). Camp T-shirts have been dumped out of the closet and tried on and complaints are lodged that they’re too small and they need new ones. Same with their trunks, sleeping bags and the rest of the stuff on that endless camp checklist.

That’s okay because once those buses pull away with my kids on them, my summer vacation starts.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | February 14, 2013

Most embarrassing Smmer camp stories contest entry

I never attended Summer Camp as a child and to be quite honest I was never much of a camper. But as fate would have it, when I had children, they were both boys and both wanted to be in the Boy Scouts. I decided early on that I was going to do whatever it took to be involved in my sons lives and if that meant camping, then I would just have to camp. I have been on many a Boy Scout campout in my career as a Scouter. I have even attended week long Boys Scout summer camp with my sons on 3 different occasions. I might add that I was the only Mom along for the trip. My most embarrassing moment was at a particular Boy Scout camp in west Texas, Buffalo Trails. The weather in this part of Texas in the summer time is hot and dry and the week we were there was no exception. As a adult on this trip, part of my job was to make sure the boys drank enough water and stayed hydrated. It was a constant battle to get enough water down each day. We even had one kid get dehydrated and have to go home. One evening before dinner, I was not feeling well and when I walked into the mess hall, the smell made me sick on my stomach. I excused myself and went back to my tent and laid down. One of the dads is a fireman and came by to check on me. He asked me all kinds of questions, including “Could you be pregnant?” (how embarrassing!) I was not! but I was dehydrated! I was so busy getting the boys to drink water that I did not listen to my own advice. I was fine the next day and I made sure that I drank plenty of water for the rest of the week. Both of my sons have gone on to become Eagle Scouts and they remind me of this experience whenever we are out it the heat.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | November 4, 2012

Dreaded Sunday School!

Why is it that every one of us parents hated going to Sunday school (whether it be Hebrew school, CCD, or otherwise) when we were kids and yet we all insist on putting our own kids through the same torture? what is it that makes us want to subject them to waking up early on their much cherished Sunday and schlep all the way to church/temple/synagogue basement/whatever to listen to some bearded old man or an old lady with support hose babble on and on for hours about some useless bit of ancient history. Although I don’t know why we do it…I do know that each and every one of us does it.

Our kids get up and go and we drive them and everyone complains throughout the early morning drive and yet, everyone goes along with the program. Are we brainwashed? Is it in our genes? Instinct? Learned helplessness? What is it?

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 25, 2012

Some observations on my kids experiences in Sleep-away camp

So funny to hear my kids talk about their experiences at Sleep-away camp. I eavesdrop on their conversations with their friends and realize that although the years may be vastly different and the names have changed, the stuff their talking about is the same stuff we talked about close to forty years ago when I went to camp. Color war, the apache relay, raids and first kisses. Overnights and canoe trips. And mostly just hanging out with your friends late into the night.

There is something so special about camp and the friendships you forge that transcends time and place. With technology moving ahead at break-neck speed, it’s nice to know that some things remain the same. Whether you went to camp in the fifties, the eighties or you came home just two weeks ago, and whether your camp was in the Poconos or the Berkshires or up in Maine, you speak the same language, you can relate on so many levels and you went through the same special experience. It is a club. A club whose members share childhood memories that will last them a lifetime.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 23, 2012

Are you a beach person or a lake person?

Just by reading the title of this article, you instantly know which category you fall into. Are you the Jersey shore type or part of the Hamptons crowd? Can you hang on the beach, play in the sand, ride a couple of good waves and then do it all again the next day and the day after that without boredom setting in? Without third degree sunburns taking hold? Well, you probably guessed it–I can’t…I’m a lake person all the way. Give me the Berkshires any day over the shore. I’ll choose a late afternoon swim in a spring fed lake or an early morning hike by a babbling stream every time over scorching hot sand en route to a mud-colored ocean.

What can I say…we’re all just products of our childhood. Mine was spent up in the Berkshires every summer at Sleep-away camp. Fishing and sailing, soccer games and capture the flag. Nature walks and salamanders and tadpole and frog hunting in cattail bordered ponds. Hanging with my friends in the cool shadows under the tree canopies. Day trips to waterfalls and swinging on ropes into crystal clear pools of mountain water. Swimming out in the lake to the floating docks to hang out in the sun all day. Canoe trips down river rapids. Hiking up scenic trails to take in mountaintop views of the valley below. camping out under the stars. Cooking up the fish we caught. Late night raids into girls camp. Staying up late into the night talking and laughing with my friends.

Hmmm… beach or country….sorry I’ll take the country–the Berkshires–all day long.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | August 7, 2012

It’s different when you are an adult

It’s different when you are an adult… As a kid you go to Sleep-away camp and everything is taken care of for you, you don’t have to clean or pick up the branches that fell in the storm and after your time at the camp is over you go home with no worries… and next year when you come back you know that it will all be there, just the way you left it… But it’s different when you are an adult…
Sometimes you need to actually get something you always thought you wanted to realize how much you never really needed it. That’s how I feel about a country house I just sold. I always dreamed of that quaint little place in the country. The one with the white picket fence that’s just a short bike ride from a cute little general store. Or the country house that has the sprawling backyard that rolls right into a cyrstal clear New England lake with a couple of canoes tied to an overhanging tree limb. Guess what? I had them both. Granted at different times in my life and in different states but the theme was the same. They were nothing but a huge pain.

You arrive in the country house and are greeted by a gauntlet of cobwebs, dried up bugs, dust and dirt and end up spending the first few hours cleaning just enough so you can sleep. You wake up to the chores that await you outside–the tree limbs that fell, the weeds that have grown into the walkway bricks, the gopher holes, the raccoons that did a number on the trash, the squirrels that are trying relentlessly to get into the attic. You get the idea. Then its time to call the guy to check on the quality of the well water or is it the guy who has to check on the septic system??

Are we having fun yet? Has the fun started because if it has I’m not sure I’m experiencing it. By the way, have I added the mortgage payments, insurance premiums, real estate taxes and utility bills to the mix? Try the heating bills that go into keeping the pipes from freezing. You get the idea? And with all that money going out, talk about the pressure you feel to use the place. If the kids want to hang at home for a weekend I end up getting mad that we’re not using our country place.

So what was the best thing about our places in the country? The day of the closings when I signed over the deeds and changed the utilities out of my name. Now if we want to go to the country, we make a couple of calls and book a great country inn.

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 29, 2012

Summer camp stories; the romance, the excitement…

So the kids are home from Summer camp and along with the loads of dirty laundry come their stories and boy are they worth the twelve loads of wash. The intercamp games and who scored and who pitched and the play by play commentary and then the color war stories and then what I’ve been waiting for al along—the nitty gritty details about the girlfriends. The banquet, what they wore, how they picked them up, where they sat, did they dance and then I come in for the kill—did they kiss. Of course, I cannot in good conscience reveal the answer in this blog, but then again, neither did my boys reveal the answer to me. Isn’t it terrible when your kids exhibit more couth than the parent in the house? How awful of me to ask, and how gentlemanly of them NOT to answer. But come on, doesn’t every parent want to know?

Posted by: Ofer Aronskind | July 21, 2012

Visiting the Kids at Camp

So having just gotten back from visiting my boys at sleep away camp. I am sitting at my desk and rethinking the day. I had not seen them in just three weeks and already they have grown. I’m not sure if physically but certainly they appear older, they act older. Some new phrases and words have slipped into their vocabulary. They have made new friends that I only met for the first time. They have inside jokes that are even more inside than the ones they shared with their friends at home. They have dates for the banquet and I have to beg for them to point out their girlfriends. I sit and wonder what that term — girlfriend — means at their age. I think back to my childhood to the age they’re at now and try to remember my first girlfriend. It’s an exciting time for them. They are on their own making theri own decisions and fending for themselves. Out in the world (a small mini world at that) without parents telling them what to do.

After lunch towards the end of visiting day, we sat for a while on the grass overlooking the lake. We laid back and stared up at the sky and my boys rested their heads on my chest. They allowed me to put my arms around them. We talked and they told me all the fun stuff they had been doing, the sports, the soccer goals and home runs, all the cool adventures and I even managed to get a little bit about the girlfriends. It was a magical moment and for just that little while, holding them close to me, I felt like they hadn’t grown up all that much after all and they were still my little boys.

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