Camp Robindel Blog

Summer 2020 Update

To Our Beloved Robindel Family,

It is with a profound sadness and disappointment that we are writing to inform you that we will not be opening Camp Robindel for the 2020 season. Since our first Robindel summer in 1977, this has been the most difficult decision we have ever had to make. Like you, we have been hoping that Robindel could provide a sense of normalcy for your daughters during this most difficult time. As we promised to do in each of our recent emails, we made this decision with the best interest of our campers and staff in mind. In choosing Robindel as a summer home for your daughter, we recognize that you were choosing us as summer parents for your child. This is what ultimately guided us to the decision to close for the season.

We have spent the last two months in daily meetings with our staff, medical team and other camp directors and medical professionals. We have listened to and read every recommendation from the CDC and the American Camp Association. We have made contingency plans for every scenario we could possibly imagine. Unfortunately, the consensus amongst all of our medical professionals is that there is no guaranteed way to protect our campers and staff from a case of the virus occurring at camp. In addition, the recent speculation about complications from this virus in children is especially concerning for us. At a Senate hearing last week concerning COVID-19, Dr. Anthony Fauci stated “I think we better be careful that we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune from the deleterious effects.” There are too many medical and operational unknowns for us to feel confident in our ability to properly care for our camp community. We feel that we must be humble about what is unknown about this virus.

Camp Robindel was founded in 1951 and has been a welcomed part of the Lakes Region community in New Hampshire for the last 70 years. We have good relationships with our local community and support many of their businesses. As we listen to every press conference with Governor Sununu hoping for him to address residential summer camps, we also recognize that his job is to protect the people in his state. Welcoming thousands of campers and staff from other states is not in their best interest at this time. To date, he has been purposefully vague and we feel, if he should allow us to open camp, his guidelines for us to operate camp will be extremely restrictive. We don’t know what his final decision will be or when it will be made. During his press conference on May 15th he stated that he will need several weeks and more data before determining if resident camps can open. We have decided that his final decision will not change our decision in this matter.

We recently had a Zoom meeting with the Juniper 2020 girls. We were overwhelmed by their compassion, empathy and maturity in understanding the situation and concern for campers of all ages. These girls showed their true CR Spirit guided by Robindel’s core values. They understood that this summer would look and feel very different from past summers and they handled the idea of these changes with grace. They shared some creative and wonderful ideas. Leaving that uplifting meeting we felt optimistic about the summer. Our extremely bright, creative and devoted team could surely create an exciting camp program while complying with the restrictive guidelines. However, soon after this meeting, we realized that the Robindel experience that we have come to love and cherish is much more than one of our beautiful sunsets. It is sitting in one of the gazebos shoulder to shoulder laughing with friends. It is walking back from campfire hand in hand with the feeling of a profound sense of community. Sunsets will always remain a constant on our lake, but when the shoulder to shoulder and hand in hand are removed from this loving equation, the spirit of Robindel is greatly diminished.

We wish to thank all of you for your trust in us and for being so supportive and encouraging during this most difficult time. As disappointing as this must be for you and your daughters, our wish is that we can all begin to heal while looking forward with excitement to the summer of 2021 – the summer of the embrace.

Love,
Ann & Nat

Challah – The Bread of Lies?

Over the last month while we have all been social distancing in our own homes the need for camp has only grown stronger. While connecting with our camp community virtually is certainly not as powerful or rewarding as the in-person connections, knowing that we have Virtual CR activities has been something for us all to look forward to each week. As we were brainstorming activities to offer we of course thought about activities and special events kids love at camp. Generations of Robindel girls have enjoyed eating Chef Gary’s challah on Friday nights (and french toast on Saturday mornings!) and in recent years campers have had the opportunity to participate in challah making workshops with Chef Gary and Ann. (For those who were campers in the 80s and 90s – campers sign up for challah making similar to how you signed up for flag or canteen!) Once the yeast has risen (sometime around 10AM) campers hear an announcement calling them to the kitchen to braid their own challah. Many girls like to sign up with their sister, cousin or camp-sister. It is a truly special activity, one that campers remember throughout their years at camp and beyond. When alumni visit camp they can’t wait to see Chef Gary!


While I (Cori) could never fill in for Gary, his truly unbelievable work ethic, his talents in all aspects of cooking including his ability to easily make hundreds of challahs in a single morning…we are in a pandemic, Gary doesn’t have Zoom, I have hungry kids in my house, and Friday was coming…So I decided to lead a virtual challah baking workshop!

I had so much fun baking challah with the Robindel community. I loved hearing from many of you who were excited to join in, having never made a challah before. One family told me that this was on their “quarantine bucket list!” A mom recently told me that her daughters made a challah every day for several days after our session. One Mom wrote to say how much she enjoyed the smell of fresh bread in her house as she came downstairs from work. It made me so happy to think about many of you enjoying a freshly baked challah with your family, and I hope that it is a tradition that lasts beyond this pandemic.

I usually make challah every Friday. Once you taste warm bread out of the oven it is hard to go back to store bought bread! Sometimes my girls braid it with me or braid their own – Romy likes to make hers in the shape of a heart. My husband Adam loves coming home from work on Fridays to a house that smells of baking bread. We love to share it with friends and neighbors too! French toast in the morning is an added bonus! (Simple recipe: 1 egg, 1/3 cup of milk, dash of salt, teaspoon of vanilla, half teaspoon of cinnamon – this is enough for about 3-4 slices of bread.)

Adam calls my challah “the bread of lies.” You see, when I first met Adam he asked his Mom to share her challah recipe with me. She happily sent it to me and I made my first loaf of challah. I slowly changed the recipe to use less sugar, substitute some honey instead of sugar, and to work out the correct baking time and temperature since we are not at altitude and this recipe came from Johannesburg. Adam was so happy that I was making challah and even more so because it was from a recipe passed down generations of his family, or so he thought. One day he was excitedly telling his Mom that I had been making challah each week from the family recipe and his Mom said “uhh, that’s not exactly true. I actually just got it from the local Shul’s newsletter.” He loved the bread enough that he got over this disappointment fairly quickly. Then, we went to a friend’s house for Shabbat dinner and I brought them a challah. People were commenting on how delicious it was and Adam proudly exclaimed “AND, it has NO sugar!” I interjected, “uhh, that’s not exactly true. I use much less sugar than the original recipe called for, but there is still some sugar.” Thankfully Adam still loves the bread of lies (and me!) and we enjoy it as a family every Friday night. I hope you will too.

Here is my recipe:
3.5 cups flour (I use bread flour)
1 packet (2.25 tsp) active dry yeast
2 eggs (1 is for brushing top of the challah)
1/4 cup oil (I use avocado or canola oil. Probably any neutral tasting oil is fine)
1-4 TBSP sugar (up to you!)*
Honey (I squeeze the bottle for 3 seconds. Not an exact science!)
0.5 tablespoon salt
1 cup warm water

(*As noted above I have experimented with the sugar in this recipe. You need a tsp with the yeast. Beyond that you can do as little as a TBSP or as much as a half cup. It really depends if you want it to be more like bread or more like a sweet bread!)

Place the warm water, teaspoon of sugar, and yeast in a bowl. Let sit for about 5 minutes til it’s foamy.

Meanwhile,
Mix 2 cups of flour plus the salt and sugar in a large bowl.
Make a well in the center and add the water mixture, 1 egg, honey and oil. Mix well.
Gradually add the remaining flour (1.5 cups) to make a dough that no longer sticks to the sides of the bowl.

Transfer the dough to the countertop and knead for 5-ish minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic, springing back when pressed lightly. (It is OK if it is still pretty sticky!)

Oil the sides of a large bowl.
Place the dough in the oiled bowl and turn so that it is lightly oiled all over.
Cover the dough and leave it to rise in a warm place for 1-2 hours.
(If you have a proof feature on your oven you can use that. Otherwise, here is my trick for finding a warm place when it’s not warm outside: place a pot of boiling water into the oven, then place the bowl of rising dough into the oven. DO NOT TURN THE OVEN ON. You are just creating a warm environment for the dough to rise.)

After 1-2 hours…
Add a bit of flour to the countertop, place the risen dough on the counter and divide the dough into 3 or 6 strands, depending on what type of braid you plan to do. (Note: you can find a ton of videos online demonstrating different challah braiding techniques. It’s fun to try different ones!)
Braid your challah!

Then, place it on a baking sheet and let sit for a few minutes while the oven warms (preheat to 350 degrees F).
Brush the top with egg white.
Optional: sprinkle with poppy or sesame seeds.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 30 minutes until nicely brown. (Check it at 25 minutes.)
If you rolled your pieces very long and thin, it will be closer to 25 minutes. A shorter, wider challah will take longer to bake.

Enjoy!

Here are photos of some of the challahs that our campers made during our Virtual CR activity!

70th Reunion – Summer 2020

We are excited to welcome you back to Robindel!

August 15-17, 2020

Enjoy a Robindel summer packed into 2 days! Activities, colorwar, campfire, swimming, boating, singing, arts & crafts, classic camp meals (with a bit of extra flare!), lots of new memories and fun!

Please send any questions, requests, suggestions, comments, etc. to cori@robindel.com

Chef Gary – 60 CR Summers

Summer 2019 was Chef Gary’s 60th summer at Camp Robindel. There are few people in the world who have spent 60 years at a single job, and probably none with the dedication and work ethic of Gary. He wakes up early and stays up late, and always has a smile on his face. Gary is a very special man and his wife Retha is an equally special woman. We are blessed to have them in the Robindel Family (they were here before any of us!).

The NH Chronicle featured Gary in a special segment that you can view HERE.

Thank you Chef Gary! We love you and appreciate you!!

 

Firsts and Lasts

Firsts & Lasts

Written By: Jolly Corley

 

Visiting Day 2010

There are childhood milestones that most of us as parents expect: first word, first step, first day of kindergarten, even the first summer of sleep away camp. I, like every parent, watched and cheered each of these milestones. This summer we experienced the first of a new kind of milestone in this phase of parenting…the last.

This summer was my son’s last summer at his camp. I was not expecting the “last” moments that mark the steady beat of time to his adulthood. The emotions of the last summer at camp came as a surprise. Most likely the surprise came because I wasn’t ready and let’s be honest, it also marks my getting older. It crosses my mind often – how can I be old enough to have a child who (fill in the blank: is in high school, is turning 16, will be driving soon…), but I realize that those thoughts bring about a mindset that laments rather than celebrates.

It is interesting that as children grow older the milestones can turn to sadness rather than the elation we feel when a child takes their first step. So, I remind myself to celebrate these milestones as accomplishments. Soon my guidance and teaching may be appreciated rather than viewed as nagging. As my children get older I can begin to enjoy the fruits of my labor in new ways, like conversing with a young adult who is thoughtful, well spoken and respectful. That it is my own journey of parenthood.

What surprised me even more than my own new parenting experiences was my son’s response to his last summer; I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

I assume that all parents who send their children to camp see the value in it. I am a little embarrassed (considering my profession) to admit that the moment I truly understood what camp meant to my son came halfway through his final summer. When we were at dinner with his camp friends and their parents, the boys sat at one table and the parents at another. At first, I was a little disappointed because I was hoping to spend the night catching up with him. Without Bunk1 showing me photographic proof that he was still at camp, I may not have been convinced. This was his 10th summer at camp and his communication with us parents was pretty much non-existent. Within minutes of everyone settling in I was able to witness something more telling than the many times he has told me how much he loved camp and his buddies.

Visiting Day 2018

I watched as the group of 15-year-old boys talked and laughed. The ease and intimacy they shared was incredible. During visiting day over the years, we had met his friends but on visiting day we focused on him, not his interaction with his friends. He kept in contact with them but due to our location in the Midwest he never visited with them outside of summer camp. I was in awe and incredibly grateful for this shared moment I witnessed. I knew in that moment why he loved camp and I began to understand his sadness with this being his last summer. He felt understood, supported and loved (not that a 15-year-old boy would use those words).

I have no idea what was being said at their table, but the expressions and laughter were undeniable. They cared for each other in a brotherhood that I would never fully understand but one for which I am completely grateful. In that brotherhood there are both wonderful moments and challenging moments. Together they learned to sail, played their hardest to beat rival camps in every sport imaginable, cheered and chanted and enjoy the benefits we all know camp provides our children. They did not always see eye to eye; they fought, got annoyed and hurt each other’s feelings and pride. It is in fact those moments that really solidified the brotherhood that I witnessed that evening. They made it through the good and bad times together.

I wish I had understood this a bit more when he was going through the growing pains of various moments of camp: when he and his buddies didn’t love a particular ‘mean’ counselor or when they struggled to share space together without getting annoyed and lash out at each other. I think if I had understood this more I would have worried less about the decision to have him away from me for that long during those impressionable times from 6-15 years old. I would have understood that it is not in fact the happiest moments that make for growth in the bonds he shares. It is the difficult times that they shared and conquered together. It is the shared intensity of living together 24-7 for seven weeks, in an atmosphere where technology does not interrupt or hide them from each other. They understand and support each other both at their best and worst. It is the shared experiences until the very end that bonded them together.

My son came home devastated. Tears and sleep allowed for time to mend his hurting heart. His fear was not staying in touch with his buddies that had become such a part of him. Fantasy football helps a little, social media makes it easier…but the sadness of what he is missing was made crystal clear when he got to spend a weekend with camp friends recently. The mother hosting the boys said something that struck me. She said, “The boys stayed up until midnight talking and laughing. Not once was the television or Xbox turned on. My son never does that with his friends at home. They always have one or the other on.”

Of course! They have never had that kind of relationship. At camp they spend time on a lake, around a campfire and playing together. They only know how to talk to each other in person, unlike the home friends my son has who he Snap Chats, messages, etc.

Camp friends are in person, up close, in your space…authentic.