Jew camp = DC summer internship?

Image from Covenant Harbor ... Are these kids at summer camp or at a DC internship?

As the DC summer intern season comes to an end (insert your sigh of relief here, staff Washingtonians), I can’t help but reflect on how similar this experience is to Jew camp.

Sure, DC doesn’t quite have the rustic feel of those graffiti-covered log cabins we all called our second home, but there’s still lots of parallels between the two, including: life lessons, bonding, mid-summer lulls, and making the right connections.

When I say life lessons, I’m not talking about “bunk hopping” or late-night make-out sessions at the boating lake, but the confidence and skills we learned while being away from mom and dad for those sacred summer months. Similarly, there are many lessons that we learn during our time as summer interns in DC that will stick with us throughout our adult careers, including, again, confidence and skillsets.

I don’t know what it is about Jew camp, but when you come across someone who has also gone to camp, you instantly feel the need to recollect every tradition and memory that was ever bestowed upon you at camp. Likewise, if you come across someone who has ever been an intern in DC, you swap war stories–like how many times you threw up on the red line metro that summer.

There also comes a point every summer when the daily grind becomes monotonous. At camp, this is usually when the traditional color war breaks out, distracting everyone from the fact that the staff has run out of new activities. In Washington, this also occurs but usually in the form of a crisis in the office, during which the interns get a bit of reprieve (AKA: you take two-hour lunch breaks and no one notices or cares).

At Jew camp, if get in with the “Long Island” crowd at camp, you are instantly popular.  As we say in Washington, “it’s all about who you know.” If you have an internship with a person who has an extremely long/important sounding title (usually involving many hyphens and spanning many departments), you are instantly envied by every other intern you come into contact with.

Ultimately, the camp and intern experiences are only shared, but always shared, with those who have also been part of these summer traditions.  So whether you went to Jew camp or had a DC summer internship, your experience might be over, but you’ll continue to relive it with those you meet, and you’ll continue to benefit from it.  Accordingly, this is goodnight, but not goodbye, DC summer interns.

Rachael Dubinsky is a new GTJ writer.