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What it's like to go to Trybal Gatherings — summer camp for adults

Updated: Sep 8, 2022

In late August, I went to Trybal Gatherings, a sleepaway camp for Jewish adults. I went for the first time in 2019 with some friends, and keep going back because I've made even more friends, and it's a lot of fun! They offer the camp in a few different cities, but I've been going to the Berkshires at Camp Eisner, which attracts mostly Bostononians and New Yorkers in their 20s and 30s. It's not a full summer, it's a long weekend, which is just enough time!

I did not love sleepaway camp as a kid, so I was hesitant to go to Trybal a few years ago, but turns out camp's pretty fun as an adult. It's an escape from work, and I can do activities I'm interested in, try new things, and meet lots of people.

Here's what my experience was like, in cartoons and with pictures from camp. I don't have many because I tried to stay off my phone as much as possible while I'm there.

I stayed in a bunk with my friends

The first year I went to camp, I thought it was weird to stay in a coed bunk, but it's actually a lot of fun! The camp has all boys and all girls bunks, too, and private ones. The bunk experience is so fun — we blast music, pool our snacks, and go to activities togther. Since there are no bunk counselors, my area got a little messy...

Enjoyed "water sports"

We had a steady supply of beer, cider, and more, from a canoe in "Bubbe's Beer Garden," which is on land. We also enjoyed a pool party with a DJ and lots of floaties. I played pool basketball for a few minutes, then returned to my the relaxed position.

Spent time at arts and crafts

If you saw my doodle about camper types, you'd know when I was a camper as a kid, I liked doing arts and crafts. That's still the case. At this camp, I made scented salts and herbal bundles during the"Shabbas vibes" activity. Someone from Tribal Markers came to lead another activity about connection and holding space for each other, and I used that as an opportunity to draw a doodle on a fellow camper's arm. It is him relaxing!

Did Jewish stuff

The camp is Jewish and I like how they weave in tradition — like Shabbat and electives with the Rabbi — and culturally Jewish themes. I love Shabbat at camp — we all wear white and gather to experience the senses of Shabbat (we make beeswax candles and drinks etc), then attend a nice short service, then head to the dining hall, which is totally transformed. Jeffrey Yoskowitz of Gefilteria, who was featured in my Hanukkah book, was there crafting fresh herby cocktails before Shabbat started. I also went to his elective on Saturday to make rugelach and learned the hard way to use enough flour before rolling dough.

Told a story Moth style

This year and last year, I told a story by the camp fire. This year the theme was "flirting with danger." I told the story of going up an abandoned mountain when I was skiing the Sierra Nevada in Spain and how I got down (I didn't ski down!). Shawn, who was on staff, helped me shape the story earlier in the day before I told it. I've done more standup than live storytelling, so it's a fun opportunity and challenge.

I was color war captain

I didn't think I'd ever be up for color war captain. But, when the Trybal staff chose me, along with other alumni, to be captains, I was really excited. Somehow, I had energy to jump, sprint to follow my team during the relay race, and scream to cheer. And we won! I also spent color war distributing sunscreen and foods to turn our tongues blue from my large tote bag.

I lost a few items

It isn't camp if you don't lose a few items, right? It made me feel like a real camper... And don't worry, the earring was from H&M. It fell off during color war, and it was worth it.

I did not find romance, I danced, and was nosy

So, I didn't have any romantic connections, but that didn't mean I wasn't interested in who did! The pictures above were just an excuse to add some more pics from the dance party on the last night. We dressed as high school stereotypes — I was a library nerd. I even brought a backpack. Maybe that's why I didn't meet anyone...

If you have any questions about Trybal, reach out!

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