By Jonathan “J.C.” Cohen, Camp Director
“There was a power outage at a department store yesterday. Twenty people were trapped on the escalators.” – Steven Wright
As many already know, over the weekend we had a day-long power outage at camp – caused by a strong, fast-moving storm that passed through just as Friday night services were wrapping up. Although we did have a couple of downed trees on the property, it was downed trees on Morrison Road that took out most (but strangely, not all) of our power. And, faced with a new set of conditions, we did what we always do: we adapted – and camp continued without a hitch. Sure, we had to make a few adjustments here and there, but it never stopped the fun of camp life.
The whole experience made me very nostalgic.
You see, I was a Jacobs camper and staff member in the “old days”, well before anything was air-conditioned. (And well before the swamp coolers – poo-poo!) Back then we would be sweaty all the time. Of course, we’d be sweating at camp activities, and at meals held in a dining hall cooled by just a few ceiling fans. We would also sweat in bed. (After lunch on Saturday, I advised the Talmidim boys to do what we used to do at rest hour: spread a towel over your bed and just nap on top of it.) We would even sweat in the shower – and, I have to say, there is little grosser than sweating in the shower – you were getting dirty while you were trying to get clean. Yuck.
After services, I regaled the campers with stories of the “old days.” I asked those whose parents were alumni if their parents had ever spoken with disdain about the air conditioners (“we didn’t have cool air, and we were just fine!”), and all of them nodded knowingly.
Not only did all of us survive the “old days” intact, we all thrived! Because, it didn’t matter how it felt outside (or inside) – we were just happy to be together, doing fun activities, and soaking in the wonderful community experience that really sets Jacobs apart.
And the same thing happened on Saturday: camp thrived! Were there pockets of complaining? You betcha. (I’m not going to name names, but some of the people in camp are soft!) And when the Entergy truck eventually drove through camp, campers and staff alike cheered and waved enthusiastically – if any of them actually knew what ticker tape was, they would have dropped it generously on the driver.
No one needs to worry about this wave of nostalgia I felt on Saturday. I am not going to pull a “Revolution” and turn off the air conditioners. (There is no “12th floor” under the Pierce! Or is there?) While being covered in sweaty grit all day brought back many, many fond memories, I have many, many more fond memories tied to cool, comfortable spaces.
While it is really great that Jacobs Camp has modern, well-maintained, fully climate-controlled indoor facilities, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that our staff members strive to take great care of our campers, and our campers strive to take great care of each other. It is our community – motivated by Jewish values, shaped by all those who come together to recreate it summer after summer – that makes Jacobs the wonderful place that it is. We may have lost electricity for a day, but never once did we lose the power that keeps camp humming.