It's not 'just camp'

Staying home will mean missing their second home

camp2 image
Photo credit: Lynn Renee Photography.

There's an expression among those who love camp called, "Living 10 for 2." This is the concept of living through the 10 months of the year to be able to spend 2 months at camp.

As a camp person, this concept has been my life for as long as I can remember. Both of my parents worked at the camp my siblings and I attended as children. Of the six children in my family, three of us made camp all or a large part of our professional careers. My wife and I met at camp. Our kids and every child of my siblings were all resident-camp campers. Now, our grandchildren are starting their time as campers. Camp is my life, my love, my passion.

Camp is cancelled this summer. Writing, saying, or hearing that phrase puts a tear in my eye and a pit in my stomach. But, as much as the pain is personal, it does not compare to the pain I feel for our campers and staff. As the Director of JCC Camp Chi, my enjoyment of camp comes from seeing campers and staff experience their own connection to camp, building their own passion. Hearing the laughter, seeing the smiles, listening to the cheers and songs, the splashing of the pool, all the sights and sounds of children having the time of their lives warms my heart and soul. The silence is deafening, the emptiness of our 600 acres, deflating.

For all the campers and staff who were looking forward to camp milestones, this summer it is especially hard. This includes campers who would be going on their Pacific Northwest trip, those about to become junior counselors ready to make the leap to being on staff for the first time, and college-age staff trying to get one more summer before they need to join the "real world." Not having camp this summer is devastating for everyone.

As reality sets in, we have the inclination to find ways to move forward, to think about next year, and to find ways to celebrate what we do have. Yes, to all those ideas. But we also need to take a pause. For all of us "10 for 2" camp people, losing camp is a big deal. Each person will process this loss in their own ways. So, to all the parents, family, and friends of us camp people, give us time and most importantly, please understand.  Understand that it is not as simple as "there is always next year" or that it is "just camp." 

Camp for us is being at a second home--a place unlike any other that allows a sense of freedom, support, and acceptance that is often not found in any other setting or time. We will get through and we will look to next summer, but it may take a bit for us to move on.

When we are ready, we will shift from 10 for 2 to 12 for 2, because summer 2021, Camp Chi's centennial summer, is waiting for us, calling for us--an incredible milestone we cannot wait to celebrate together.

For help or support, don't hesitate to contact us at We're here for you and your family now and always.

Jon Levin is the Director of JCC Chicago's Camp Chi.

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