Sophie Levitt

Dublin Core


Sophie Levitt


Pandemics; School graduation; Summer camps


Sophie's summer started with her untraditional high school graduation, and culminated with move-in day for her freshman year of college. In between, though, she worked for a summer camp. Photo courtesy of S. Levitt.


Delaney Zuver
Sophie Levitt










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May 15, 2020 to August 30th, 2020

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Laney Zuver [00:00:14] My name is Laney Zuver, and you're listening to another interview from my project, 2020 Summer Stories.

Laney Zuver [00:00:21] This interview features Sophie Levitt. Sophie spent her summer in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. We discuss her experience at a summer camp and what it was like to both graduate from high school and begin her college career during a pandemic.

Sophie Levitt [00:00:35] My name is Sophie Levitt, I'm 18 years old and I'm from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and I spent the summer in Pittsburgh. Well, starting in May, I still would have been in high school, I had just finished my IB work at high school, kind of doing busy work to just get to graduation. I graduated as the valedictorian of my high school, so I was in the process of writing a speech and getting ready for what may or may not have been graduation. Numbers in Pittsburgh in May in terms of Corona, were pretty high in the county that I live in. So there wasn't a lot of going out or anything at the time. But that's probably about when I started thinking about the summer differently than I guess I had planned before Corona happened. So we had some friends over one night and one of the kids who was my age made a comment about working at a summer camp. I said, great, it would be fun, get me out of the house for the summer. I would make some money... That sounds... I could work with you. So it'd be great. So I kind of put that on the backburner, I applied, but then kind of yeah put it on the back burner. We ended up having graduation online and so I had graduation in June. My birthday was also in June around the same time. So I turned 18 during that August 31st time period. My school had organized a like a drive by graduation thing. So definitely the highlight of definitely that high school time having some like final thing. It was down the road at a seminary and all the seniors got to decorate their cars and just drive through. And there were two teachers were there. There was a lot of family there. It Was a lot of fun. And I think people really enjoyed it. And pretty much the week after that, I was all kind of in the same week camp started. So I worked at a summer camp, a Jewish summer camp this summer called JNR. It's a day camp normally that has kids as young as like three years old, up to about 5th or 6th grade. So 11, 12 ish. Our good family friend is the director, you see, which is the Jewish Community Center in Pittsburgh. And so thats who organizes this camp and they had worked really hard to figure out how they could bring some normalcy to these younger kids during this time. And so I went to staff training and then camp started. Once I got to staff training, a lot more of my friends were there. So it's nice to see people that I hadn't seen in a while or had kind of, I guess, fallen off with as I grew up. And it was fun to be there that week and then fun to get started with camp. I was partnered with that family friend of mine who I was talking about, who was the reason I worked at camp. We worked with the first and second graders, so we had our group of ten kids. That was the same throughout the entire summer. And that's that's what I did. There were a lot of... Camp was structured a lot differently because of what happened, activities at camp were structured a lot different. But I wouldn't change it for a thing. It was definitely the right way to spend my summer going into my freshman year.

Laney Zuver [00:04:12] I started by asking how was camp different this summer as compared to a typical summer?

Sophie Levitt [00:04:19] So I did go to the same camp when I was younger, so that was a while ago, my mom was even a unit, a unit headed this camp a long, long time ago. And I remember going to camp and it used to be a full day and you would be in the pool for twice a day and you were doing activities. And I went when I was really young. So the same about the same age as the kids I was with. It was kind of like life come full circle that I was the counselor for some of these kids whose parents had been my counselors or whose parents were the unit heads or the directors of camp at the time. And so a lot has changed in the 12 years that it was that I had not been at camp, especially with Corona.

Sophie Levitt [00:05:03] But so the rules about covid were, at the beginning only counselors had to wear masks. Once the numbers got higher in the area and there was a possibility that Corona might have gone to camp. The kids at one point or the governor actually of Pennsylvania told the summer camps that kids also had to wear them out. So about three or four weeks into like a nine week experience of camp, the kids also started having to wear masks. So that was definitely like what I think as counselors are the most worried about was when the kids had to start wearing masks. Up until that point, it was great. Counselors were wearing their mask. As I said, you were with the aim to get 10 kids all summer. Your group had a lot had a box with markers and crayons and stuff to do. There was a lot more down time in between each activity. We were washing hands. You ate with your group. There was.. A flagpole was at your station. And so I think it gave the kids a sense of normalcy. A lot of them had been to camp before, but from my experience of going to camp, it was a lot different. Flagpole was around a flagpole. Everybody was mixing, groups were mixing sports. There was a giant color war. And so there were some things that were different. But I don't think the kids knew any different to know that it was different. So up until the kids started wearing masks, it was great. Not a ton of questions, at least for my group. I was kind of in the middle of the age range. They cut the number of kids down by a lot. They didn't they didn't have the youngest group of kids, which would have been like three and four year olds that like legally you have to have a ratio of counselors to kids. And they just couldn't supply that many counselors. So there was less people there at camp. There was a lot of less interaction. And I was just kind of with my group all summer. Once the kids started to wear masks, it actually went a lot better than I think people would guess that it went with six and seven year olds. I think that I did have the youngest kids at the camp at the time, but not what would have been in a normal summer. The kids were there masks, except for when they were eating or in the pool in the pool, the counselors also had to wear face shields. But like people, the kids weren't asking questions about it. I think they really just wanted to have a fun summer. They were there with their friends who they had seen. They have been in online for school for the last four months ish. And so it definitely was fun to see the kids in the pool and playing dodgeball or on the ropes course or all those things. They wore their masks probably better than a lot of adults are doing right now. Yeah, it was normal that they just put the mask on as if it was like a part of what they had to do.

Laney Zuver [00:08:05] Then I wanted to know where the kids that attended her camp were coming from.

Sophie Levitt [00:08:08] The kids to come to this camp are pretty much from the city of Pittsburgh, the suburbs of Pittsburgh, a different variety of kids like public private school, but mostly Jewish kids. A lot of siblings. There are definitely some parents who would send their kid for like a week or two just to let them have some thing.

Laney Zuver [00:08:32] Thanks for listening. Be sure to check out more stories at

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Delaney Zuver and Sophie Levitt, “Sophie Levitt,” 2020 Summer Stories, accessed December 6, 2022,

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