We recently had the chance to chat with a “first time camp mom”, Cheri Ehrlich Eisen. She was a camper, CIT and a counselor at Camp Akiba for over 11 summers. After camp she enjoyed a Summer of exploring on a Musiker cross country teen tour.
Today, she currently lives in Weston, FL and is married with two children Reese (5) and Zach (9). We really enjoyed chatting with Cheri and hearing her thoughts on finding the right camp for her kids.
1. When looking for a camp which things were a “must” that the camp had to have?
First I wanted it to be brother/sister so that my children would see each other either in the dining hall or crossing paths on their way to activities. Second, it had to have an AKIBA feel. I wanted it to be beautiful but most importantly I wanted warmth. Warmth of the staff, warmth of the children attending the camp and a general feeling that made you feel at home. Additionally, I wanted something down to earth, no air conditioning in the bunks as I wanted it to feel like camp. I also wanted a full camp I didn’t want a camp that offered half sessions. I was also looking for spirit. Kids who loved where they were and enjoyed being at their activities and didn’t look like they were dragging from activity to activity. Lastly I wanted a variety of where kids came from. I wanted a mix of NY/NJ/Florida/PA so my children would have the opportunity to meet kids from all over.
2. How did you know your child was ready for camp?
I don’t think you ever KNOW that your kid is ready for camp, but it is a feeling that you get. Growing up in Livingston there is a big population of children that go to sleep away so many of the kids discuss it amongst themselves. They tend to go either going into third or going into fourth. We had considered sending our son going into third, however when we toured the summer before we just hadn’t found what we were looking for so we didn’t feel that the time was right. The summer after when we toured was when we found that special something and felt it was the right time to send him. Also he had been in day camp for many years and he’s a camper and loves it!
3. Are you doing anything special to get your child ready for camp?
Indian Head where Zach is attending had a Florida reunion which is where we now live. So we were able to attend and meet some of the kids who will be going from this area. Additionally, we had our camp spot appointment to buy all the items you need for your first summer. Bedding, the logo clothing. Also Indian Head assigns a big brother/big sister for new campers. We just received ours and coincidentally my son’s big brother is the son of one of my husband’s good friends from growing up, which was really exciting. So we are going to be introducing them shortly and having them face time with each other.
4. Is there anything you found helpful to get you or your child ready for camp?
I always think it is helpful to talk to a mother from the camp who has a child a year older and has just been through sending their kid for the first time. My good friend has a daughter there so she has given me the low down on visiting day, booking a hotel room for visiting day, what to really pack and what is needed for your first year. It might be smart for camps to have Big Moms! For new campers!!!!!
5. What is your favorite Camp/teen tour memory?
Oh my gosh way too many. However, my very best friend from camp who I met at 12 and is still one of my closest friends today her daughter just had her bat mitzvah. Attending that and seeing a friendship last for over 30 years having met at camp is an amazing moment.
As far as camp moment my favorite is color war. Rope Burn being captain and hearing the screams build that fire higher higher……then seeing that rope break and running into the lake. There is nothing better and I hope my son experiences many moments just like that one.
Ok, now Just for fun!
Favorite and Worst Food at camp?
Worst I’m sure there were plenty!!! But stew comes to mind
Favorite Camp Cheer
We are from the hill oh boy what a thrill do you like your tunk a lot yes I like my tunk a lot we have spirit and so much pep we are from the hill oh boy what a thrill
T….U…..N…..K……tunk, tunk, Tunk 11’s the greatest Whoo!!!!
Anyone from Akiba will be familiar
If you could ask a seasoned mom 1 question what would it be?
Will I be ok???