What’s your most meaningful memento from camp? For Abby Weinreb, senior village coordinator it’s her sleeping bag, and here’s why:

Camp Away From Camp

When I was 13, I received a letter in the mail from Camp Jewell. I was going to be a Senior camper in the summer of 2006. I was terrified. I was ecstatic. I was anxious. I had to go shopping and within a week, my wonderful parents had bought me a brand new sleeping bag.

Now, 13-year-old me was not very excited to get this sleek green and grey mummy back with matching stuff sack, despite its below-zero degree rating. It wasn’t soft, it wasn’t fluffy, and it certainly wasn’t my favorite color. It was boring. But, that sleeping bag came with me on the senior canoe trip. And then it came with me to Alander Mountain when I was an LIT. It came with me on dozens of overnights as a counselor. I took that sleeping bag on trips as a Senior counselor in 2013, and I sounded quite old and wise when I said to my campers: “When I was your age, I took this sleeping bag on my Senior canoe trip.”

That sleeping bag got me through below-zero nights in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. It has been to England, Scotland, The Netherlands and Hungary, all places where I have visited friends I met here at Camp Jewell. Most recently, as the Senior Village coordinator, I took my sleeping bag on the Senior staff break-in trip, just nine years after its purchase. This week, it travelled the Appalachian Trail with a counselor whose sleeping bag was just a little too big to carry.

To me, that sleeping bag represents the world that Camp Jewell opened up to me—a world of adventure, excitement, good friends, cold nights and warm camp fires. A world of humid days, millions of bug bites, uncontrollable laughter and a good dinner cooked over the fire.

Even when that sleeping bag does wear out, I will still carry the memories it helped me create.

Abby Weinreb