The Summer Swivel Stories series highlights different teens’ changed plans for the Summer of 2020. Follow along as we hear from teens from the Greater Boston area who are making the most of their new summer adventures.

My original plan for summer 2020 was to participate in a new leadership program called Kadima at Camp Pembroke, one of the Cohen Camps. I have attended Camp Pembroke for the past 10 summers, but this leadership program was a change. Camp has always been my summer home, and finding out that it will be empty this summer was absolutely devastating. As much as I wanted to return to camp, this change was out of my control. I was finished being a camper and on to my next journey as a future counselor.

Ever since I was a little kid, I always looked forward to being a counselor at camp, wearing a staff shirt, sitting at the head of the table and being a role model for the younger girls. Luckily, the Cohen Camps have adapted to the change and have been running the Kadima program virtually. It is certainly not the same as being at camp, but I am looking forward to hopefully becoming a counselor next summer to become a role model to the future of Camp Pembroke. 

My plans for this summer have changed immensely and I have had to learn to adapt to these changes. In addition to building my leadership skills through Kadima, I am also working with children at a daycare, babysitting and staying healthy. Something I enjoy about this summer is that Camp Pembroke is doing a great job keeping the campers busy. Almost every day there is something new to do online. I have also participated in fundraisers for my camp to help the future. Most importantly, I love the fact that I can still say involved with my summer home community without physically being there. 

One key takeaway from this summer experience is that we always have to be flexible with our plans because they may not always work out. In 1980, John Lennon sang about his son Sean in the song titled “Beautiful Boy.” The song goes: “Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

We may have our own plans, but life can get in the way to stop those plans even though we don’t want it. We learn to adapt to these changes. It’s important to be flexible with plans because, even though in the moment it may not sound good, it always ends up working out.

My best piece of advice for someone who wants to get involved is to just do it! Get involved. Prior to last year, I was scared to get involved; I had a fear that I would be judged and I didn’t know what to expect. I was totally wrong. Getting involved is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Since July 2019, when I returned from Israel, I got involved as soon as I could. I became a Peer Leadership Fellow for JTI, joined BBYO and even got elected to the board of my chapter. Obviously, it’s challenging to gather together to do fun things right now, but there’s so much we can do virtually to help the time pass. I have participated in multiple virtual BBYO events, which has definitely kept me busy while I have been stuck at home. In the fall, I am very excited to be a Senior JTI Peer Leadership Fellow, and whether this is a virtual or in-person experience, I am very excited to be a part of it for the second year in a row.

Shira Zimmerman is a rising senior at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. She spends her summers at Camp Pembroke and loves playing tennis, hanging out with friends and attending BBYO events. This year will be Shira’s second year as a JTI Peer Leadership Fellow in the North Shore cohort.

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