Click below to read our next blog in the Alumni series. Mollie Berner and Arya Cohn studied abroad together this winter and had the trip of a lifetime. Read about how going to camp together made their trip even more special.

Berner and Cohn Vietnam Trip

Studying abroad in college is one of those experiences that you look back on and recognize how life changing it truly was. Camp to many of us shares that same sentiment. They both teach you to be your own person, to conquer your fears and face challenges head on, to grow in every experience that comes your way, and perhaps best of all, to make everlasting friendships. For the two of us to grow up in camp together throughout the past decade and later study abroad together in Southeast Asia allowed us to draw on all the parallels between the two life experiences and how lucky we are to have shared them both.

Traveling through various cities within Vietnam and Malaysia, we certainly experienced a bit of a culture shock—one that we felt we could deal with much better than others, which we attribute greatly to our summers spent in bunks and in the woods. We were able to sleep anywhere, whether it be on 13 hour night trains, or homestays, or hostels. We were open to trying new foods, climbing to the tallest peaks, and appreciating each minute we have with one another.

Camp showed up in our travels more times than we could count. Whether it was kayaking through Halong Bay in a partnered boat and managing to not capsize thanks to all those days of bunk activities at the lake, or coming up with Maccabiah cheers on the sidelines during a soccer game we played against a highly ranked Vietnamese league team, or visiting a primary school and playing games with several groups of Vietnamese children who barely spoke English, camp was always something we had to thank. So many of our life skills stemmed right from those summer days.

Perhaps the most memorable time that camp came up in our travels was when we rode a party boat to the Imperial Citadel in Vietnam. Music was playing and we had the boat to ourselves. Neither of us avid dancers, we decided to show off the only way we knew how—we Israeli danced. Everybody was genuinely impressed and we ended up teaching them all those moves we become so accustomed to doing every Friday night on the basketball courts. This is when that lightbulb moment happened, when you just realize how full circle everything has the ability to become—we were on Vietnamese waters, performing an Israeli dance together, that we had learned as kids back in faraway Lake Como, PA. To be able to carry experiences like these all around the world showed us both that camp will always be a part of us, no matter how near or far we may be.

It’s true that you’ll never have an identical experience elsewhere that camp can give to you in a summer, but what’s even truer, is realizing how much those experiences truly impact you later on and all around the world, as well. Camp teaches you how to appreciate those moments in your life—like how we did as kids, living 10 months for 2—and that’s a gift that we’ll carry with us for the rest of our lives.

Berner and Cohn kayaking in Vietnam

Info About our Bloggers:

Mollie Berner

Camper: 2004-2008

SIT/Staff: 2010-current!

School/Studying: I am a senior at the University of Delaware studying Communications, Journalism, and Organizational & Community Leadership.

Where do you live now? Delaware right now, and I will be attending graduate school at Northeastern University in Boston, MA post-grad.

Arya Cohn

Camper: 2003-2009

Staff: 2011

What have you been doing since? I have worked as a ropes course specialist at a day camp, and then worked as an Orientation Leader, and the coordinator of Orientation program during my summers.

School/Studying: I am a senior at the University of Delaware studying Psychology and Sociology with a Social Welfare concentration.

Where do you live now? Delaware right now, TBD post college