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Bryan Borzykowski: Going Back to Camp Massad

Reprinted from Kol Massad, the Camp Massad Alumni Newsletter

By Bryan Borzykowski, June 6, 2012

I’m not one of those people who sit around reminiscing about the good old days. I don’t often pull out camp pictures, and – sorry campers – I can’t remember most of my cabin songs. But for at least one night every summer I can’t wait to revisit those memories.

I’ve been lucky enough to come back to Winnipeg for at least a few days, if not a few weeks, during July and August. For at least one of the nights I’m there I go to camp. I’ve been to some arcuchas and, I think, one Televizia. I’ve been to a few Shabbats; last year I took my daughter, who had attended day camp a couple weeks earlier, to her first Friday night at camp.

Going back to camp is always an interesting experience. On one hand, nothing has changed. The campers look the same and while I don’t know most of the counselors, they still put the same emphasis on the first syllable of Tie-Yeesh as I did. The strangest part of the whole thing, though, is how quickly I get back into it. After 11 years, when I walk into the oolam during Festival part of me wants to get right back into it.

My body may not be able to take the late nights anymore, but I still have as many ideas — actually, many more — as I did back then. Even if I didn’t try anything new, I could always rebuild the roller coaster, put together an enormous backdrop or lead Tefilah – most of those things are still done the same way to this day. Every former camper and counselor knows that all they need is a dirty white shirt and some paint-stained shorts and one other person to help lift a bench from the Chedar Ochel to the Oolam to immediately feel at home.

Of course, I don’t really want to do all this again. I’ve put in my time. Over the next few years, I’ll probably think even less about my camp years. It’s not that I don’t want to think about Massad, but now I’m starting to envision what my kids will do. I can picture Molly leading Rikud Zar and Shae… well Shae’s one, so I’m not sure what she’ll do, but I have no doubt she’ll be screaming some song on the second night of Maccabiah.

So goes the circle of camp. I’ll still visit every summer, but I’m looking more forward to Molly’s three weeks at day camp than my own night on the site. Then, one day in the hopefully distant future, we can both drop by Massad – and revisit our memories – together. 

Bryan Borzykowski is a Toronto-based journalist.

Camp Massad is celebrating its 60th anniversary with an on-site Alumni Reunion, August 24-26, 2012.  All former campers and counsellors are invited to attend. Register  at  or email [email protected] for further information.

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