Aleyna Lange and Friends

By: Aleyna Lange

My first summer spent at Camp Interlaken was in the summer of 2021. It was the summer right after Covid-19 shut down Camp. After almost two years of barely leaving the house, I was committing to spending four weeks in a new place with people I had never met. Stepping off that bus for the first time only confirmed the cautious excitement I was feeling for the summer ahead of me. The smell of the Wisconsin forests surrounded me as I watched the sunshine ripple across Lake Finley. By the first song session, I was eager to make new friends and set out to find a new community. However, as the parody of “Take Me Home, Country Road” played over the fields, I realized that none of it felt quite like home. I wanted to cry. But, I mustered up my courage and kept at it. I didn’t know it then, but that summer would change my life.

That summer, I water skied, I laughed, I sang, I cried, I played a lot of tushball – but, most importantly, I met the most amazing people in my life. These brand new friends traveled across the country to attend my Bat Mitzvah in Arizona less than a month after meeting me, which is something I could never have imagined when I stepped off the bus in 2021. The next summer was just as fantastic: seeing new friends and trying more new things was thrilling and wonderful. The new friendships we had formed proved to transcend the camp environment as we started making plans to start seeing each other outside of summer. Soon, the plans actually made it out of our group chat and into reality. I started visiting Chicago and Northern California, and I also traveled to BBYO International Convention to see my camp friends.  And before I knew it, my five closest camp friends were standing in my bedroom days before my birthday. It felt like a dream as we played games and stayed up all night reminiscing about times at camp and planning for the year ahead. Only the true magic of Camp Interlaken could have elicited such rich friendships and amazing experiences, and I am so lucky to have found my best friends for life.