Our Camp History
By Meredith and Josh Clarin
It’s hard to describe the excitement and great sense of pure and unwavering love that goes into the remarkable fact that just a few weeks ago, we drove through the red gates of Crane Lake. Taking our oldest daughter, Haiden, a first time camper, who is now settled into her bunk at the very same happy place where we met sixteen summers ago was a fabulous experience. We look at each other often, nestled in the wooded house we rent in Great Barrington, and wonder where the time went; so happy to be able to share our love of camp life with our two daughters.
For us, Crane Lake was somewhat of a “coming home” adventure on many different levels. Josh and I both wound up at CLC in June of 2002 as a combination of chance meets fate. We are always grateful for our first CLC summer together that was the start of a lifelong friendship, marriage, and eventual legacy for our daughters, Haiden and Alix.
Meredith: My choice to leave a full-time floral design job in New York City for an enticing opportunity to recreate a carefree “kid” life that was a pastime for me as an Eisner camper seemed like a no brainer. Saying a temporary goodbye to my tiny New York City apartment and the stuffy summer air for something fresh in the Berkshires felt very natural to me. It was familiar — with some of my fabulous childhood years spent at Eisner.
Josh: I began my Crane Lake journey in 1994 as a camper for four of the best summers of my life. At the time, Ed and Barbara Ulanoff had a large contingency of campers from South Florida and with some of my childhood best friends, I came to CLC. I am proud to say that I can still sing all of my fight songs when they come on the radio, including the year we got disqualified, and I know how to square dance and water ski, all because of Crane Lake. In 2002, I decided to return as a counselor and the rest is history.
Like we wrote earlier, we were officially coming home, both of us independently believing that camp = home. We arrived in West Stockbridge, unpacked our clean clothes to small wooden cubbies. There was the thrill of completing staff week, the fun of meeting lots of other counselors from all over the United States and the rest of the world (with some of the best accents). There were amazing sunsets (picture worthy) and star gazing at night. We swam laps in the cold lake and successfully greeted our new set of respective campers on Opening Day.
Our favorite spots on camp start at the Main Lawn, a place we fondly recall as a “meeting spot” and social playground. Flagpole gets its own sentence with its morning tradition. There were inside jokes and rainy day shenanigans that caused us to float yellow rubber ducks in the large puddles. All Camp barbeques were another camp favorite for us, mixing the silver tins of watermelon with delicious burgers that only CLC seemed to make so well. We begged our parents for this exact menu at our wedding, but we got outvoted. Last but not least, the Shappy Shack (and before that, the HC) is not only the camp structure that marks the spot where Boys’ Row meets Girls’ Row, but rather the spot of late nights as OD and the home of the clipboard that scheduled our first together day off.
As early as Haiden and Alix can remember, they were each introduced to the idea of camp. They were introduced to the idea of bunk life and camp friends and there has and will continue to always be a special affinity to all things camp related – tons of old photos and too-small vintage CLC tee shirts, songs we have downloaded, Shabbat and song session tunes, food and smell reminders and always lots of conversations that begin with, “when you go to camp.” It is without hesitation and for these exact reasons, we believe, that Haiden exited our rental car to the Crane Lake Visitor’s parking lot and declared with an unwavering enthusiasm, “This is where I want to go to camp!” We hadn’t technically entered Crane Lake or taken our official guided new prospective camper tour and there was this unspoken acknowledgement that our camp legacy would continue. Her heart understood CLC. Talk about a moment of total joy for us.
As we head home today to Miami, car packed and Waze navigation turned on, we are extremely grateful to the staff at CLC who have made Haiden so incredibly comfortable that she begged to extend her session for another two weeks. We miss her terribly, but couldn’t possibly say “no” to two more weeks of summer fun: growth, playing, kindness, compassion, friendship and every amazing detail in between. Our original hopes for a great summer have been exceeded. We will continue to scan the daily pictures with enthusiasm and find Haiden’s ponytail emerging from a crowd of smiling faces. We’re pretty adept these days at speeding through 331 pictures in a 2 minute time frame. Keep the pictures and letters coming — we love you CLC.