Maimonides once said “there are good ships and wood ships, ships that sail the sea, but the best ships are [camp] friendships, may they always be!” What Maimonides could not have predicted, however, is how a group of ten girls would have their entire lives changed by their unique summers at the Henry S. Jacobs Camp.
Let’s take it back now, y’all.
It all started in the summer of 2004. You probably remember this summer if you were at camp. I wasn’t there, but for those of you that were, I’m sure you can recall the sentiment surrounding this new grade of young Southern Jews. “They’re very cool, they’re cutting edge, they’re changing the game already” are things you most likely heard about this group of 7 year-olds from the likes of J.C. Cohen. You wouldn’t believe the macaroni necklaces these kids were making. Outstanding, unheard of! The Institute for Southern Jewish Life projected at least five HSJ marriages from this Olim class alone, which would have generational implications on the entire region. That group only stayed at camp for ten days, but those that remained and those that they picked up along the way, made their mark over the next ten years.
Flash forward to the summer of 2012. CHALUTZIM, baby. This is the big leagues. You have to really place yourselves in our shoes. People were talking and buzz was generating. Two sessions of probably the most influential campers of all time were going to blow off all other responsibilities (i.e. playing video games, wreaking havoc on the Memphis JCC, etc.) to spend six weeks in the Utica, Mississippi sun. Needless to say, Chalutzim 2012 was extremely successful. As a group we caused little to no damage to the HSJ property, so that is a win in and of itself. But truly, we had a blast and most of us chose to go to Israel the next summer, participate in the Gesher program the next next summer, and most of us even went back before and during college as counselors and eventually leadership team members.
I can’t tell you how many special times we’ve shared with our camp friends. Bat Mitzvahs, NFTY events, HSJ days off, multiple New Years, and probably too many Mardi Gras. It hasn’t been easy to get all of us in one room together since 2013, but then something crazy happened: we found a weekend that worked for everyone. February 27. New York City. Be there or be a square. Just kidding, but really, be there.
I’m not going to bore you with the details of our weekend in the Big Apple. We had a lot of fun. Sarah got her ear pierced (sorry, Mrs. Kathy) and we ate a fair amount of pasta and cookies. As is probably expected, we didn’t sleep much and there were a few times when we were all speaking at the same time and no one heard what was actually being said. It was very cold. We danced, we laughed, we cried.
Some things have definitely changed since that fateful summer in 2004. The ten of us went to college around the country, and now we’re starting graduate programs and big girl jobs. Some of our parents moved from the towns we grew up in, and you won’t see many of us at camp this summer. We take comfort knowing that HSJ is in great hands until we can make it back, whether that be on staff or in a decade or so when we get to bring our own children. A few things haven’t changed: Katie is still deaf in one ear, Nina’s drawl never got easier to understand, and we have yet to decide which Lauren to kick out of the group so as to make telling every story just a little bit easier.
It is cheesy and terribly cliche, but when we are together it seems almost as if we were never apart. And even in our youthful bliss, the incredibly special bonds we have made are not lost on us. We must thank Jacobs Camp, the literal and sometimes metaphorical glue that has held us all together for so many years. Jacobs Camp will always be our starting point, and now, as we find ourselves in New York, Austin, Charlotte, Greenville, New Orleans, and Denver, and wherever it is the wind blows us next, this squad is forever. We’re living ten for two baby, just living ten for two.
Dani is a senior at the (virtual) University of Texas at Austin and is moving to Washington D.C. after graduation to begin a career in Hospitality Management. Lauren is a recent graduate of Texas; she lives in New York and works as an executive assistant at the Women’s International Zionist Organization.