2020 has taught us a lot of challenging lessons. With so much change, heartbreak and tragedy, the death of Kobe, the pandemic squashing the entire spring – one thing that kept me, and the rest of my waiter bunk going – was the thought of getting to the shores of Lake Balfour for the greatest summer of our lives. Our waiter summer.
We entertained ourselves through long days and nights of being locked away from our friends, living on FaceTimes, Zooms, over Snapchat and text. We talked about who should be on our 7 Ova/7 Unda board, the lead of the Big Show, Bazaar Chairmen, who would shoot the Baco 3, and ideas for the break. More than anything, we needed our best friends, the people who could make us feel better than anyone in the world, and remind us that our home in the hills was waiting.
On that afternoon on June 1st, when we got the news camp wouldn’t be opening in 2020, there were a lot of emotions going through our collective heads: sadness, anger, confusion. How could we, out of all the bunks to have gone through Baco, be the ones to lose our waiter summer? We immediately received an overwhelming amount of messages and love spanning from younger campers, to camp doctors, and so many counselors. As a whole, this was a moment where our bunk was able to come together in a time where we could’ve crumbled, and pushed through to quickly focus on what to do now. How to be together, in some capacity, in some way. In my eyes, this was a beautiful moment where our collective Baco Pride uplifted each other in a time where we needed that more than ever.
We will be forever grateful that Allison and Barbara were generous enough to give us five nights, as waiters, with our fathers, at camp.
As I look back at it now, I feel more than fulfilled with my summer. Somehow, someway, we squeezed the magic of a Camp Baco summer, into five short days. From many long, competitive hours of masked basketball, to gorgeous mornings and afternoons on SUPs on Lake Balfour, to just being with our best friends and talking in the bunks all night – we somehow managed to squeeze seven weeks… into five days. Talent shows with Rick Weiss, campfires with Barbara and Allison, perfectly made adolescent boys basketball teams from Danny, and tennis and riveting council ring speeches from Bruno – we got it all during our week.
When it was time to leave on the morning of the 26th, the same emotions were going through my head that I’ve felt every year on the final morning since 2013:
Don’t cry. Keep it together. You will be back.
Saying goodbye to my best friends after eleven months without them and only five days with them was definitely one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do. Eventually, only four of us remained. Myself, Eli Greenberger, AJ Wilk and Chazzy Stone were sitting with Waiter of 2009, Max Tochterman on the Social Hall steps. As all five of us had tears in our eyes, Max explained how awesome it has been to watch us grow up. He had seen our age group from the beginning, from five kids in 2011, when he was a second year counselor with them in Bunk 5, to now seeing us as 16 year olds in 2020. He let us know how proud of us he was, how we had really had become such an all time Baco bunk, and that he would always be there for us during these challenging times, and beyond.
This is what I have found to be the beauty of camp – having role models and people to look up to. I have had an unbelievable group throughout my camp life – from Max Bochner to Ross Greenberg to Jaron Biolos and Jon Werbitt, Beans, the Goldsteins and Adam Rabinovich all the way up to Greg & Danny Silver and the late, great Bob Wortman, and so, so many in between. This is the beauty of camp. Meeting and making older brothers, who help you learn and grow in so many ways, and shape who we become, is the beauty of camp. It is what keeps camp going, and the cycle always continues. We, as waiters, couldn’t wait to create our younger brothers. Any one of the guys above I listed could also give a laundry list of Baco boys that helped them become the men who they are today. For a lot of kids such as myself, camp is a place, where, in our awkward years, we grow and mature. Knowing how much camp helped me during those years, my heart hurts for those who also didn’t get to learn and grow this year, but also smiles for all those many more who will get to experience this joy in the coming summers.
Even when we’re not physically together at camp, we always have our brothers and role models by our side. During these times, we need to remember that our family is always there for us. Camp truly does form connections that never fade. No matter what.
As of today, August 29th, there are 300 days until camp. Since more than anything this year, we as a country have learned that nothing, including tomorrow, is ever guaranteed, I just want to say I love you to our entire Baco family and can’t wait to see all of you. 300 days.
We’re all in this as family, and all will make it through together. On behalf of all the Waiters of 2020, we wish everyone in our Baco family well, and cannot wait to see you all in 2021 for the greatest summer ever.
Waiter of 2020/2021