By Kayla Cohen, Bus 7 Participant
Having gone to Crane Lake Camp for 7 years, I can without a doubt say that my camp friends are my best friends. But, now being separated from the gates surrounding CLC, NFTY in Israel is providing me with a completely new experience.
As we tour all day, our phones are almost always in our back pockets. The ring of a text message is a constant reminder of our lives at home. However, being able to have our phones has also given us the ability to record some of the best memories I have ever had with my camp friends. Additionally, while touring extremely different destinations the access to a quick photo gives me the ability to send my experiences to my family back at home. Although the occasional teen will become absorbed in their Snapchat updates, the ability to have our phones (and the limits on when we can and can’t use them) has helped me connect and share my summer experiences with people from home.
One of the main differences between camp and NFTY in Israel is how we live. I didn’t expect hotel rooms to change group dynamics, but living with a roommate (instead of an entire cabin) has caused me to connect with a single person who I didn’t know very well. Being in a bunk, I would just hang out with my friends. In addition to getting to know new people, rooming with others has caused everyone from our camp to spend time together in the hallway, which has allowed us to connect with other camps living on our floor. Overall, living with roommates has caused me to connect with new friends and build stronger relationships with the people I already knew.
Walking around at camp has always provided a feeling of freedom and comfort because of the red gates that constantly surround us. But touring these new European cities has allowed me to step outside of these boundaries, both literally and figuratively, and explore the real world. NFTY in Israel has given me the freedom to learn new ideas and values while spending time with my closest friends on bus rides and walks. This new structure has provided a sharp contrast to the enclosed “bubble” of camp I am used to experiencing. Although it is unfamiliar to constantly be touring new countries and cities, it has given me a taste of the world and a drive to explore other places in the future.
While at times I miss the structure and people at CLC, touring Israel and Europe with my camp friends is providing me a completely new and different experience that will stand out from all the other summers.