Saturday, July 9, 2011

What I Did This Summer

As I sort through euphoric, exhilarated, ecstatic and exhausted, I settle on—proud.
We have a camp.
It’s really ours; we are not working for anyone else.
We finished our first two-week session today and the kids were convincing their
parents to let them stay for another couple of weeks.
As one 10 year old boy put it to me on the second (!) day: “this is the weirdest camp, but also the funnest.”
It is weird—we have a stand-up comedian and we play butt-ball and we turned everyone into a jug band with washboards and spoons and limberjacks and shtumph-fiddles.
We built a giant hexagonal tent in the lobby with a hammock and a six-foot red beanbag.
It’s the lounge.
The gorgeous auditorium is set up like a disco, with lights and a killer sound system.
Kids can have as many twizzlers and yogurt-fudge cookies and lemonade for snack after morning yoga and as many ice-pops-on-the-terrace-at-3 as they want.
We have a popcorn machine.
We have a giant screen Wii.
Our kids are artists, jugglers, models, singers, musicians, dancers and fashionistas and loudmouths and kvetchers and goofusses and come from all over the city.
I LOVE them. Sruli loves them.
They know they are loved and they are happy.
Their parents are happy.
Both my big boys are counselors and teach everything from martial arts to chess to digital recording to how to build remote control cars. They are experts on all these things.
The younger girls chase after Aaron all day long.
The twins’ feet have not touched the floor in two weeks and the girls fight over who gets to hold them. Charlie Re loves being a Barbie Doll and receives new hair-dos every hour.
We have gotten a parking spot in front almost every day. We found a cheap deli.
And we are in the West Village.
It almost makes me forget the previous year’s heart-attack stress levels: getting the permits, the insurance, more insurance, more insurance, more permits, finding the place, losing the place, scrambling to find another place, writing contracts, searching for the right comedian, the right artists, the right actor, the right hip-hopper; meeting all the parent coordinators of all the schools, advertising and more advertising, The American Camp Association, the Tri-State Camp Association, camp fairs and conferences and open houses, dealing with the city and with Citibank, the Board of Ed, the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Fire Department, The Mercantile Office, writing safety plans and getting all the proper certifications from The Red Cross, plus dealing with over a dozen shuls as well as the Archdiocese of New York.
I haven’t been able to blog in a long time. I haven’t been able to fold laundry for a long time. I haven’t been to the gym in a long time.
Frankly, running the camp has been like a vacation.
Oh, and we even passed this week’s surprise inspection.
This is not what I thought I would do with my life but it is what I am actually doing (with a large part of it) and I have been truly happy every minute of every day at that camp.
I guess I didn’t think of doing this, maybe didn’t think I could do it, should do it, whatever, til one night at 4AM, 17 months ago when Sruli said—how about a camp?
Yeah—how about this camp?