12-14 is a sensitive time in any child’s life. It’s the time when boys transition into manhood, and as a result are all over the place. I spent the summers of these years at The Camp Airy Summer camp in Scenic Thurmont, Maryland. 12-14 is the time when girls were just then starting to be of interest. Everyone was at a different stage of immaturity, and it was very obvious who was where. I was at the weird stage where I was physically immature (short, child’s voice) but emotionally and intellectually mature. Nerdy, basically. Camp was definitely an experience.

The Hill

Whenever I think about camp Airy, my first memory is “The Hill”, for to call it a hill does not do it justice. As a kid, this hill seemed to be a mile long as at a 45 degree angle. It was probably closer 1000 feet and at a 25 degree angle, but I digress. When I was there, I always tried to reduce the number of times I went up and down the hill. I discovered over time that the best way to go up was running, because then I got to the top before my legs started to hurt.

Power structure

At a summer camp, the importance of a clear power structure cannot be underestimated. If even for a minute it’s not clear who is in charge, the campers would most likely riot, or at the very least break into the snack shack. (see the food section). The power structure was as follows:
  1. At the bottom were the CAs and CITs (Counselor Assistants, Counselors-in-Training) who were 16 to 18-years old. The CAs still paid Airy to go, the CITs went for free but had to work. Basically, if the camp needed someone to watch the kids because there was some “adult” thing going on, they were the ones who had to do it. The CITs were also responsible for various duties around the camp, and essentially served as counselors, except without many of the benefits (like time off).
  2. Next were the Counselors, who were college-age kids who had nothing better to do then spend their summers in the woods. From what I remember, most achieved happiness by laughing at the campers and telling them what to do. They had no real power.
  3. The Unit Leaders were in charge of entire age groups of kids. They were usually older (upperclassmen in college or recent graduates. Whenever there was an issue that concerned the age group (rather than one bunk), the Unity Leader dealt with it. They commanded a great deal amount of respect from the campers and Counselors alike.
  4. Finally, if all else breaks down, the Camp Director was the final say on everything. As a camper, you never wanted to be called in to talk to the camp director. A meeting with him usually meant that either you had done something really horrible, or there was an emergency and you had to go home immediately. Most people avoided all contact with him, if possible.


I remember the food at Airy being fairly decent, but oftentimes boring. All the food came from Sodexho, and after going to camp I swore I would never eat that food again. Too bad the same company runs my college cafeteria. In terms of beverages, I remember drinking gallons of “bug juice”. I don’t know what was in it, but it tasted alright. In addition to the cafeteria food, there was a snack hut of some kind that sold candy and snow cones. The camp also had several Soda machines, but they were only on a few hours a day. Beside that, you depended on the snacks your parents sent you for sustenance.


Airy is diffidently a Jewish camp. The campers were predominantly Jewish. We did Shabbat prayers on Friday nights and paid some respect to Shabbat on Saturday. We sung Jewish songs on occasion. Back when I went there, I didn’t pay much attention to the Jewish aspects, but I remember enough to know that they were there.

Lasting impact

My time at Airy was full of firsts. It was the first time that I had been away from home for more than a week. I met my first girlfriend while at Airy (met her at Louise, the sister camp). While there, I learned independence and the true meaning of friendship. Through it all, I became a more mature individual.

It was a very unique experience. As soon as I got there, I became miserable. As soon as I left, I wanted to go back. If I were to pick a single memory from camp that I remember most strongly, it would be singing Shavoa Tov on Friday nights at dusk.

Shavoa tov: A good week; a week of peace. May gladness reign and joy increase.

Singing that when way out in the middle of the woods was absolutely increadible.

Camp Airy served it’s purpose in my life. I am very glad that I went, and wish I was still that age so I could go again. If you would like more information, check out http://www.airylouise.org.

Ode to Camp Louise

-By the guys of Airy
Oh Camp Louise,
Take me there please.
I want to eat,
Fruit and cottage cheese.
I want to go,
To a cross-trip show.
To see...those chicks,
At Camp Louise (At Camp Louise)!

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