Thirty-two summers at Camp Pembroke. That’s how long Dani, Marissa and Stephanie have been there, combined, that is. Who are they? They are counselors, of course.
Why do they do it? For different reasons, it turns out, and the same reason, in a way. They are unique young women with distinct interests, academic and social.
They also connect in their own thoughtful ways to tradition, being Jewish and Israel. What do I mean? You’ll get it when you read all three of their words.
Why do you keep coming back to Camp Pembroke, and why did you want to be a counselor?
Marissa Brockman, age 17, is the youngest and a junior counselor, so we’ll start with her. She wants to go to the University of Delaware to study education.
“The main reason – my mom is always saying that this place has really shaped who I am; mature, responsible. It taught me how to be independent and how to relate to people who aren’t similar to you.”
Stephanie Schrager, from Swampscott, has been a counselor for four summers and in her non-camp life is a business student at Boston University. She said: “Camp is just an activity to some kids, but here it’s an attachment, not just to other girls but to the camp itself.”
Dani Cohen is the most senior of the group. Off-camp, she is a senior at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, majoring in Legal Studies.
She “really love(s) camp, everything about it, walking around in neon green and PJ shorts for color war, ruach, and campers being genuinely themselves.”
What it boils down to is that they love camp and connect to it on a deep level, feeling it shaped them and wanting other campers to have that.
What’s your job as a camp counselor?
Dani was in charge of the CAs, counselor apprentices. She “took them to Israel and then met them back at camp for the last two to three weeks.” That means that she was part of the team responsible for 41 girls traveling and learning to be leaders in Israel. (Camp Pembroke is part of the Dor L’Dor Israel Program.) Dani “loves being in Israel, especially on Friday nights when it seems like you see a whole community devoted to Judaism.” She also enjoyed “seeing the CAs transition from the beginning when they are wide-eyed and bushy-tailed to watching them become young leaders.”
Marissa was in a bunk with “my 10-year-olds.” The bunk staff included “three CAs, two co-counselors and one senior counselor.” She was expecting the campers to be more homesick but “they never really cried.” On the other hand, she did not anticipate having a “first session camper wake me up three times a night.” She learned that being a counselor is a “maternal role” and tried to pass that along to her bunk CAs.
Stephanie worked with the oldest age group of campers. It was a big shift from “the 4th and 5th graders from last year but a good change.” She shared stories and impressions from her experience interning in Israel with her bunk. When the conflict started, Stephanie “reassured them and told them to come to us and not to listen to rumors around camp.” Her openness also gave her a “closer feeling of connection to the Israeli counselors at camp.”
So, their jobs are diverse because of the age groups they work with but fundamentally the same. They keep campers safe, healthy and try to keep them happy and learning.
What do you want to pass on to the campers?
“Camp is always there for you no matter where you are in your life.”
“You can feel comfortable being yourself at camp. Be your best you!”
“An image of what it’s like to live in Israel.”