It was July 1967. I was 11 years old. As a Buffalo (N.Y., that is) girl from the city, how I loved everything about Camp Lakeland! The cabins. The funny skits before dreaded Announcements. The pool. Shabbat under the stars with guitar music and moody songs. Even Lake Erie, always forbidden, was simply mysterious and couldn’t overpower the delicious smell of the country.
My counselors were Essie and Liz. I thought of them as Essie&Liz — a single unit, like parents. I took archery. I passed the deep-end test. I liked boys, but we girls saved our crushes for the boys’ counselors. The boys’ counselors were men who shaved and had lovely, deep voices and hearty laughs and were always teasing us and flirting with Essie&Liz.
We daydreamed and confided in Essie&Liz. If the boys’ counselors wouldn’t go out with us, surely they would fall in love with Essie&Liz. The counselors told us that the male counselors were just friends. In fact, Liz had a boyfriend at college. A boyfriend! We were collectively thrilled. We endlessly imagined what that might mean.
By winter break, we campers were all busy sixth graders. Shopping at the mall one vacation day, two of us bumped into Liz. How is Essie? we asked. Gosh, I don’t keep up with her at all. How is your boyfriend? we questioned. Oh, him. We broke up eons ago.
It was the Summer of Love, but we, innocent Camp Lakeland girls from Buffalo, N.Y, didn’t know it yet.
Julie Lekach House lives in San Francisco. She is a trustee of Congregation Sherith Israel and co-owner of DollarLink Software with her husband, Stan Lekach. Their two grown daughters attended Camp Newman for many years.