Our Cup Runneth Over
Friends of Zachary,
I received a call from Andy Siegel Co-Owner & Director of Tyler Hill Camp (THC). Andy approached me with an idea to host the 2014 Tyler Hill Camp – Zachary Bernstein Memorial Soccer Cup. The goal was to raise awareness of the passing of Zachary, maintain his spirit in an environment he truly loved and remind the campers and counselors what Zachary stood for…and most of all, have fun!
As a reminder to our connection to Tyler Hill Camp (THC) , Matthew attended many summers at THC. This current summer Matthew decided to stay home and work at Coleman Country Day Camp in an effort to be close to his brother and for the love of working with children. We were hoping Zachary would have been able to enjoy one more summer before he passed…while big brother watched over him.
Zachary was also a camper at Tyler Hill for several years and although his time there was brief, he had a lifetime of memories that we know he took with him. At the eagerness of fellow campers, Andy Siegel was interested in having Deena, Matthew and I come up this past weekend and enjoy time at the camp, reconnect with old friends, and reminisce about goofy Zachary stories and the love my boys had THC. Ohhh and the other main purpose was to facilitate a camp wide soccer tournament (Cup).
We were honored and delighted to accept their kind offer to attend. We were more amazed that Zachary had a lasting impression on this camp where they were willing to add this tournament into the daily agenda.
When we arrived, we were greeted with open arms, a warm embrace as if we were “home”. Matthew immediately connected with is former camper friends as though he was not gone for the past 2 summers. Although we arrived Sat afternoon and the tournament wasn’t until Sunday afternoon, we were guests of the camp and has access to roam around, speak with friends and reminisce about Zachary’s time at the camp. As Andy and Wendy put it…”our home is your home”.
As we integrated into the camp routine, you would not know there were over 800 in total between campers and staff. Deena and walked the camp and remembered our time during visiting day. What Zachary liked to do…whether tennis, swimming, boating, woodworking and crafts, it was a nice reminder of the activities he grew to enjoy. We also walked the lined fields (18 in total) where logo’s of the THC Leaf was imprinted on locations throughout the field. We were also witness to seeing ZB imprinted into several of the Leaf Logos that displayed his initials with pride. Signs started being posted…”Welcome the Bernstein”, “Zachary #2”. “Zachary Bernstein Cup” and “Remember Zachary Bernstein #2 Forever”. It was a bit emotional that so much effort was being placed on this moment of remembrance.
Sunday rolled around and we got up to a late start. Before we knew it, it was time for the “Cup”. 500 campers walking onto the field in soccer gear. Some wearing the color pink as this represented Zachary’s favorite color. The campers and staff all settled and the introductions were made by Andy. Shortly following the opening speech, several of Zachary’s closest friends made a few remarks about Zachary, their friendship, his love for soccer and how much they missed him. Finally, Matthew was introduced to speak to over 800 in attendance, (see the video below) as a last minute “fill-in” (Because I Opted Out). Deena and I were so proud of Matthew as he took to stage and shared the importance of this day to our family, the continued remembrance that Zachary will be in our hearts forever and the warm appreciation we had for the entire camps support. Finally Andre…Zachary’s former counselor who has an affinity to soccer gave the instructions and rules to the campers and with that said…everyone took the fields.
18 Mini games of 12 vs 10, 24 vs 18, 6 vs 6. It didn’t matter who was playing on what team. It didn’t matter what the score was, it didn’t matter seeing me huffing and puffing out there trying to keep up with the kids. What mattered was…the complete buy-in from all staff and campers that this was a wonderful day to remember Zachary, play some fun soccer, laugh and shed a few tears. No complaints. Everyone had a great time. This was about community, a culture that is instilled in the DNA of the camps fabric. This was about good people from all over the world coming together for a brief moment of unselfish happiness.
At the conclusion of the games…Matthew who played for over an hour on the Black Team, was surrounded by his fellow campers as the Gatorade Cooler filled with several gallons of cold water was dumped over Matthew’s head. We need to remind ourselves that Matthew is also heavily affected by the loss of his brother that this was a great distraction and immediate connection to a camp he so loved.
Finally…I recommended having a conversation with Bill (formerly the tennis pro now head of all sport activities) whom never seems to remember Matthew’s name but always references him as “THE LEGEND”. We’ve known each other for years. Bill and I were chatting about this day and I thanked him for his support and making Matthew feel so special. His response to me was…”What we do is not a chore, it’s a gift for US to be part of something so special, Zachary has touched all of our lives and we take great pride and joy being part of this special day”. “Zachary will never be forgotten”.
As we departed from THC, I found myself feeling similar to the way campers feel after an amazing summer. The distancing of friendships and “family”, the emotional bond and ties we made, the experiences we shared and the appreciation for a wonderful organization. I will continue to connect with Andy and Wendy over the Fall and Winter seasons but being at THC was truly magical. A special moment in time where nothing else mattered but our appreciation for family, community and good people. We hope the connection to THC and the continuation of the 2015 THC – Zachary Bernstein Memorial Soccer Tournament (Cup) will live on forever.
On behalf of our entire family, we thank Andy & Wendy Siegel, Bill, Andre and the entire THC camper and staff community from the bottom of our hearts. May we never forget and always rejoice in the spirit that binds us…Zachary Bernstein Forever!!!
Yesterday is gone, live for today, let tomorrow be your inspiration and future.
Our sincerest appreciation,
Deena, David, Matthew, (Zachary) & Molly
“It Takes A Village”