Unwind in the Wilderness: Young Adult Weekend at Camp Livingston

In a world dominated by the responsibilities of adult life like car payments, work, and the end of the student loan payment pause, Camp Livingston’s young adult weekend offered a chance to escape – if just for a moment.

“You don’t have to worry about the outside world, you get to just shut off, relax, and be with people your own age,” said Max Yamson, the executive director of Camp Livingston.

The weekend, which has been going for 15 years (excluding 2020), brings young adults together from Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, and Indianapolis. This year over 90 people attended, including a sizable group of camp alumni.

“The last summer I was here was as a counselor in 2019,” said Dylan Horowitz. “It’s great to be back to see so many of my old friends and to meet all these new people who are coming to camp for the first time.”

For most of the participants, it was their first time at Camp Livingston, and for a few, it was their first time ever at a Jewish summer camp. For some, Young Adult Weekend has become a yearly tradition.

“This is my fourth time coming – the only time I didn’t come was COVID,” said Brian Sugerman.

His first year at Livingston’s Young Adult Weekend was right after moving to Cincinnati, and Sugerman credits the experience with setting him up with a strong social life.

“I decided to go so I could meet people, because anyone willing to go to camp is open to meeting new people,” said Sugerman. “I didn’t know anyone when I showed up and left knowing 30 to 40 people.”

The atmosphere at the weekend was open and inviting, with one of the most inviting people being participant Nate Dumtschin, who has been to 10 young adult weekends and who, for the last five, has brought a bucket full of pringles. I caught up with Nate as he was walking around camp with said bucket.

Asked what’s up with the bucket of Pringles, Dumtschin was direct: “Everyone loves Pringles.” As for his record streak coming to Livingston, it’s all about the community here.

“It’s the people that keep me coming back,” Dumtschin said. “I love getting to unplug with everyone and reconnect with old friends and make connections with new ones.”

A main attraction of the weekend is being able to not just meet new people but try new things.

“I’m so glad I came, it has been really fun getting to meet all these great people and try all these camp activities I would never have thought of trying,” said Gila Duke.

All the usual camp activities are available during the young adult weekend. The gaga pits, the ropes course, a pool, arts and crafts, archery, and lake activities. This year the special activities offered were a karaoke night, trivia, and a bonfire on Saturday night.

“I went on the back of a jet ski and that was awesome, and then we just laid in hammock village,” said Danielle Mormol. “I’m from Columbus and I’ve already met people who know my brother, it’s been really fun meeting new people.”

Getting adult campers to follow all of the rules can be more challenging than dealing with the kids.

“Working with adults is always a little bit different but we’re used to it,” said Yamson. “We require life jackets in the lake and the adults are a little more grouchy about it, but they come around.”

The chance to unplug was the theme of the weekend. Everyone who came seemed to revel in the opportunity to get away from the world for a little while.

“Our lives are busy, there is so much to do, and you can do fun things at home…but when you’re at home you’re always checking your email…and this gives you an opportunity to just get away,” said Sugerman. “I never went to camp as a kid, and this weekend just gives you the opportunity to unwind and just be a kid again.”