• jandreozzi03

For the Love of Camp

Updated: Mar 29

For the Love of Camp

Like many of us, I have spent most of the last year taking stock of what truly matters in life. And - like so many of us - I have realized that you don't always know just how much you love someone or something until you miss them/it. I am approaching my 18th summer here at Chingachgook and when we were forced to close this past year and when I really started to miss all the magic a summer at Camp brings - I realized my time here, and my connection to our camp family, has become one of the greatest loves of my life thus far. When I started my journey as a camper, I never could have predicted just how much Chingachgook would shape not just the course of my life, but also who I am as a person. That first summer I fell head over heels in love with the Adirondacks - especially the pristine waters of Lake George. I found joy in experiencing my first overnight camping trip and freedom in feeling like I could truly be myself for the first time. I was instilled with confidence and independence because I tried new things, like sailing and fighting my fear of heights to soar down the zipline. Most importantly, I brought those traits home with me and allowed them to shape me in the long year while I waited to return to 1872 Pilot Knob Rd. I was hooked from my first day of camp and the years that followed lead me to become a CIT, a counselor, a waterfront staff member, an outdoor educator, and even encouraged me to pursue camping as a full-time career at Chingachgook and beyond! But most importantly, those years introduced me to some of my very best and truest friends. Our summers together forged the friendships, but the love and support were shared all year long. I realize now that these friendships have taken up such a big place in my heart and grew over the years by planning reunions on school breaks, taking road trips across the country, having Friendsgiving in Boston, attending weddings of camp friends (think fancy camp dance!), and now even welcoming their little future campers to the world! These are the friends I lean on in good times and bad - because as our alma matter says, Chingachgook is where friendships grow and never die. Even though we had to switch our reunions to zoom this year, I still felt the support of this circle as we navigated the unchartered waters of living through a pandemic (shout out to Molly & Brenna for putting those together and providing me with the most laughs I've ever had on zoom <3 ). Like any good love story, there have been many times where I have felt frustrated, exhausted, and wondered what the heck am I doing here - these include, but are not limited to, the time I had to dangle from the climbing tower while trying to repaint it, the countless times I had to fix a sunfish a camper crashed or figure out how to rerig a rainbow in the middle of the lake, the many late nights spent doing payroll for 100+ staff and the time all the toilets in the girls' bathhouse were clogged and I had to do A LOT of plunging...to name a few ;-) But through all of that, I always end up watching a #skybluepink sunset over the lake, while sitting with friends new and old, and I am reminded of the magic we get to create because of that behind-the-scenes work. As a camp director, I have the privilege of getting to step back and watch the big picture of camp play out and what I missed most this past summer was having the chance to watch our staff and campers both start and deepen those lifelong friendships for themselves. Because even though many of my camp friends from those first years have moved on from Pilot Knob Rd., I know they are always a visit or video call away. And no matter how long it has been since we last spoke, we are transported back to the closeness we found at camp, reminded how to be our best selves, and we remember how to stick together through even those rainy days. These friends turned family have been such a motivating force and have kept me focused and working hard in order to bring our campers and staff back together at Camp in 2021 - and I can't wait for what I am sure will be one of my most memorable and magical summers ever!! And so, even in the toughest year, I remain very much in love with Camp Chingachgook and so very grateful for all the amazing people camp has brought into my life. To all my camp friends from the last 18 years (and all the ones I will make in the summers ahead) - thank you, I truly couldn't do this work without you and I am sending you all the love and hugs from the shores of Lake George! Stay safe, stay hopeful, and remember it is as you make it! Jiné Andreozzi Camp Director

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