Coming Back to TY (an Alum's Perspective)

By, Mary Stone Tessler - TY Parent & Board Member

Monday was an amazing day for me. Not only was I heading up to Tel Yehudah, but I was taking my kids with me. My daughter Sarah was along for the ride, but my son Evan is now a TYer! I couldn't be more excited for him. I know that he is going to have a great time. I know that he is going to make tons of new friends that will last a life time. There is something so special about camp relationships no matter what summer camp or where that summer camp is.

I am sure that I didn't help with his anxiety about coming to TY for the first time, by giving them a running dialogue of what camp is like, for the umpteenth time.  That excitement everyone gets when entering Port Jervis was the same for me as it was the very first time in 1984 when I took the bus from Laguardia Airport. Everyone that was returning to TY for their 2, 3 or 4th years would yell out with joy. The fear that radiated through new campers on the bus when everyone would scream as we spiraled back and forth on snake path, thinking that at any minute the bus could tip over or drive off the cliff. Of course that would never happen, but as a first time camper, we had no idea what to expect. That feeling was there again, but it was different. This time, it was more excitement than anything else.

Now on the drive to camp you can see directly into Bet from the road. I definitely miss Rebecca Quick's House. It blocked the camp from the outside world. As a camper I never realized how close to the road or River we were all the years I lived in Bet (Yep, I was a Bet Girl!  Bet is Better!). My kids on the other hand, see this as NOT being out in the middle of nowhere! After hearing all of the Rebecca Quick stories at CYJ Midwest, I think they are relieved not to see that house.


After getting Evan unpacked and organized, we headed to the Chadar Ochel to meet and greet parents and campers. I loved seeing so many Young Judaea, Tel Yehudah and Year Course Alumni! I tried to meet as many of the parents that were there as I could. I know that I interrupted many of the parents I was speaking with, when yet another alumnus would spot me (or visa-versa), and sometimes I didn't end up getting back to those original chats. I apologize for that. Hopefully we can continue our conversations when we meet again at pick up!

The staff seemed excited to officially start camp. Some have been at TY for 2 or 3 weeks already and couldn't wait to fill up their cabins with the new campers. I know that there are many hoops to jump through nowadays when getting the kids into camp. Lice checks, medical documentations, electronic amputation (i.e. leaving cell phones and other devices behind) – it is all a part of keeping our children safe and creating the TY camp environment that we, as alumni, had the chance to experience. As annoying as some of the bureaucracy and extra forms might seem for us, the kids and the counselors, it all has to be done.

Camp Food! I know this is one thing that is always a concern especially with food allergies and gluten-free issues. Stu Stein is back! He has EVERYTHING under control. The one thing that I have always stressed to my children is… make friends with the Food Service team. That is how I survived Year Course! It was the best lesson and I still use it. Treat them well. Be respectful and thank them all the time. Become friends with them. They will keep you well fed and make sure that you are taken care of.

I know I can't go back to camp as a camper, so I am living vicariously through David Weinstein, Amy Itkin, Jamie Maxner, Stu Stein and Evan. I know that Beth and Mikaela (camp’s photographers) will post tons of great pictures of Evan for me. I will once again be the REFRESH REFRESH mom!

New Call-to-action
Talk to us

Want More?