The Gift of Family
By Becca Gadiel
For many, summer camp is an opportunity to meet dozens of new friends, many of whom you may have never crossed paths with otherwise. For me however, although I have met plenty of new friends at Chi, camp has also been an opportunity to become more connected with people I have known my entire life- my family.
Family has always been an integral part of my Camp Chi experience. I began attending alongside my cousin, Maya. She was my bunkmate, my tubing buddy, my partner for the Birkat Hamazon. Camp brought us together and made us close in ways that seeing each other at home could. It provided us with an extra unbreakable layer of connection. This is the case for each of my 7 cousins and my two siblings who are currently campers and staff at Chi. It is an incredible feeling to watch the younger members of my family fall in love with camp the same way I have. My youngest brother, Henry, was a first-time camper in Garinim this past year. He waiting for this summer since he knew what overnight camp was and I feel so lucky to have been there as he began his Camp Chi journey. Camp did not disappoint for him, as he won the ruach award his first week, and ended up crying, as so many do, as he boarded the bus home. He was bit by the same camp bug the rest of the family knows so well.
My family ties to camp, however, reach far beyond just the current generation. My grandma attended Camp Chi back when it was an all-girls camp in Illinois. My aunts, uncles, and parents were all campers and many were also SITs. My 16-year-old brother, Adam, carried on the family legacy this past summer as a proud SIT of 2018. I can’t wait to walk into the dining hall next summer and see his plaque hanging along both mine and our mom’s. Being able to watch my brother go through this life-changing summer and participate in many of the same traditions that both my mom and I went through was so surreal.
Joining the three of us last summer, were 7 of our cousins- that’s right there were 10 of us. Some came from Chicago, like us, but we also had family at camp last summer all the way from New York and California! Our parents surprised us and got us all matching shirts as you can see in the photo. And just like my first summer, when Maya and I first came to Chi, the 10 of us are now closer than we ever have been. That is something that doesn’t happen at regular family gatherings. Camp brought us together like never before, and I will forever be grateful that I am part of the Camp Chi Family and my Camp Chi is part of my Family. For us, I guess, Camp Chi is just in our blood.
Becca Gadiel is a freshman at Knox College, where she is currently studying to become a social worker. Becca has been at Camp Chi since she was a Yeladim camper in 2009. A SIT of 2016, Becca is excited to be back on the Chi staff next summer for her 10th summer!