I started going to Camp Pecometh when I was 12 years old on Horseback. Other than family vacations and single-night stays at Grandmom’s house, Pecometh was my first major time-away-from-home. I don’t remember worrying about making friends or missing home.
I remember that my counselor had red hair and may have been from New York. I remember getting Camper Mail from my mom, but not really caring about it (sorry Mom!).
Some former campers can give you a list of all their counselors and where they were from, but I am just not one of them.
To be perfectly honest, I don’t remember much about that first week at camp except the cute boy from Sailing (the program currently known as Chester River Trek). I must have had an awesome time though, because I campaigned at home to get an extra week at camp the next summer (oh hey Sailing!).
I don’t know if it was the awesome dances in Fellowship Hall, silly songs in the Dining Hall, or Thursday night Galilean services, but there was something about Pecometh that kept me coming back and wanting more.
I continued coming to camp as a camper for five more summers, aka, when I was old enough to FINALLY work there.
I was on Summer Staff for four consecutive summers, all along the way forging friendships and creating bonds that will last a lifetime. After my sophomore summer, I of course knew everything there was to know about camp and was #notimpressed. I swore up and down that I wasn’t coming back.
Then, something pulled me back in.
It might have been my impressive lifeguard tan(lines), it might have been the ability to humble brag about my friends in South Africa, it might also have been the temptation to continue perfecting my character in The Doctor’s Office Skit (the secretary, naturally).
Whatever it was that kept me coming back for two more summers, I’m glad I did, because it was then that I met my husband, Aron.
This past summer, we sent our son to camp for the first time.I was able to come back for an encore summer as Office Assistant, and Kyle came with me every other week as a day camper.
For the first time, I really understood the worry that comes with entrusting your child to someone else.
Was he eating his whole lunch, or just the cookie?Was he making friends? Did he like his counselor?Is he having any fun at all?
I was having very interesting mental conversations with myself, because the Summer Staffer side of me knew the answer to all of these questions.
Your child is safe and having fun!If anything went wrong, you would have heard about it!The counselors work here because they love kids, including yours!
Kyle blossomed into the most adorable Camp Brat I had ever seen, and still refers to it as “my camp” (as in, “Mama, when am I going back to My Camp?”).
As a parent, passing down traditions is important stuff. My mom made sure that my sister and I always had our own birthday cakes, even though our birthdays are only four days apart, because her mother made it important to have separate cakes for my mom’s twin siblings.
I plan on carrying on the individual birthday cakes for my family now, no matter how much easier it would be to just make one cake.
When I hear Kyle singing Baby Shark to himself, I’m fairly certain that whatever it was that kept pulling me back to Pecometh has been successfully passed down to the next generation.
I couldn’t be more proud.
Sara Bittner served on summer staff as a lifeguard, pool manager, and office assistant. She now lives in The Netherlands with her husband Aron Heeron, son Kyle and daughter Brynne.