Summers of Babs
I want to thank my good friend, Linda, who suggested no fewer than THREE interesting topics for my blog. That was three more topics than any of you other readers suggested. And, so, I am going to go with one of my favorite topics, evoking memories of long ago, summer nights, furtive kisses and poison ivy… Camp Boiberik, in Rhinebeck, NY, where I spent eleven blissful summers and about which I still dream!
The first year I attended camp, I was 8 years old. My bunk consisted of 8 girls, three of whom were named Arlene. The counselor suggested that two of us pick a nickname and so I chose “Babs” the name of the daughter on “Life of Riley.” One of the other Arlenes chose “Cookie.” I was Babs for the 11 summers I attended camp.
My folks had only signed me up for one month. I think the cost was $125. I was terribly homesick and wrote letters home pleading for them to come pick me up. They did not. However, the fact that my older cousin, Mady, was also a camper, helped me to
manage through and I lasted the month.
The next year, my parents signed me up for 2 months, using the ploy that it would be best for me to get out of the Bronx during the hot summer. Coincidentally, my absence would give them more freedom to pack and prepare for our move to upscale Queens. This time, my experience of camp was entirely different and I begged my parents to let me return year after year.
Some of my earliest and fondest memories of Camp were the Shabbas services Friday night and Saturday morning. Friday began with doing “laundry” before sundown, making our beds with fresh, clean linens and dressing in our Shabbas whites. Then, the entire camp lined up in a horseshoe configuration with the leader, Leibush Lehrer, as our guide. He gave a short inspirational speech, followed by his customary “Alright, ve go!” That
signaled the long white line of campers to wend their way across the hill and into the sparkling clean dining hall where a brief candle lighting ceremony was held and we sat down to a delicious meal of
chalah, matzoh ball soup, and chicken. Aside from the well-prepared food, the most exciting part of Shabbas dinner was that each bunk got to exchange their counselor for another of their choosing to be a “guest” at their table. Of course, there were some male counselors who were very much in demand with the female campers, and vice versa. If you didn’t get first pick, you were pretty much stuck with someone nerdy.
Other fond memories of camp involved my active and successful participation in sports (and I don’t mean “getting to 1st base”) about which I will write in later posts.