There is nothing in the world more zen than sitting at the lake, looking up at the stars, with your arms around your best camp friends… or is there? Meet the founders of Panatea, a health and lifestyle-driven matcha green tea company. Jessica and David Mandelbaum, both former campers, are our new Camper (Couple) of the Week! They launched Panatea together, and are now committed to spreading the word to “sip up and zen out.” Read their story here and get involved in the #matchamovement.
Jessica hails from Marblehead, MA, and now lives in New York City. She attended an all-girls (uniformed!), 8-week sleepaway camp in Maine for five years. David attended TWO sleep away camps when he was younger (lucky duck!). First, he went to an all-boys, 8-week camp in Maine, then he switched to a co-ed, 8-week camp in Pennsylvania. He grew up in New Jersey and now lives in NYC with Jessica. Although this fantastic couple never met at camp, at one point they were only across the lake from each other… so it was basically a match(a) made in camp heaven, right?!
What are your top three essentials that you packed in your trunk?
Jessica: Sweatband (I had bangs), sneaks & dance shoes, stationery collection. And what seemed like an endless supply of green shorts and white tees…we had a uniform :)
David: Tennis racket, cd player (+cds), Curve cologne
What are three words to describe your camp experience?
J: Fun, Carefree, Friendship.
D: Active, Athletic, Awesome.
Who was someone at camp that you looked up to?
J: The directors…Dick and Linda…they were our summer parents!
D: The head of tennis – Tom and Natasha (the arts and crafts counselor ;))
Why do you think it is important to go to camp?
J: Camp allowed me to experience life on my own for the first time, without the safety net of my family, yet still with the love and nurturing I needed. It allowed me to be independent, build self-confidence, learn new skills, meet different kinds of friends. It gave me a platform from which to grow. For me, all of these aspects of camp were so unbelievably important.
D: Learn how to live away from your parents…a tough lesson indeed for my young and consistently homesick self.
How has camp influenced what you do/your career path?
J: Camp gave me the opportunity to be open to new people and ideas. To think creatively. To be confident in my own skin. All these aspects have directly or indirectly lead me to being an entrepreneur. Most importantly though, camp taught me how to build relationships, which is an integral part of running any business. Whether it’s interacting with a customer, a vendor, or even a co-worker, me relationships all center around kindness, understanding, teamwork, leadership, and trust. And at the end of the day, aren’t those values what camp’s all about?
What is your favorite camp memory?
J: AIRBAND – a competition in the Olympics where we would lip sync songs, which we would fully choreograph and dress up for of course! It was hilarious and sooooo fun! And my birthdays…they always fell in the summer time. And we would get to stay up late and eat pizza and ice cream cake in the bunk. It always felt extra special.
D: Raids on girls side (can I say that???) and the Tennis Invitational.
How has camp affected your adult life? Is there something you learned there that you still do today?
D: I jump in lakes naked. Dippies 1994! jk. I learned how to put spin on a second serve.
Words of wisdom for current and future campers?
J: Enjoy and embrace every moment :) Take as many activities as you can, even if you’re not that into them at first glance. You’ll find new skills and passions where you least expect them. Plus, let’s be real, you’re never going to have 8 full weeks of jam-packed activities all day, every day, ever again. So fill it every day to the max. Most importantly though, just HAVE FUN!
D: Go to a co-ed camp! You’ll learn a lot more.
What is your favorite camp tradition?
J: Airband (as mentioned above)! Or the Apache relay! I was always the runner.
D: Indian Council Campfire.
What was your favorite camp food?
J: Chicken Patties. Basically a chicken finger on a sandwhich. With lots of ketchup for meeee.
D: Chix parm dinner
What is your favorite camp cheer?
J: “Kings, and queens, and bishops too….happy birthday to YOU!”
What was your favorite summer reading book?
D: Playboy magazine or The Catcher in the Rye (if the Playboy was confiscated).
What is your favorite movie about camp/that you saw at camp?
J: Camp Nowhere. I need to watch that again one of these days.
D: Movie about camp – Camp Nowhere / Saw at camp – Stand by Me or The Sandlot.
Sports or arts?
J: Sports…I’m throwing dance in there too though.
What was your favorite camp activity?
J: I can’t decide between these 4: Ropes, Water Skiing, Dance, Track & Field.
If you had to have something from camp tattooed on you, what would it be?
D: The Camp Arch Ideals in Japanese.
What is your favorite camp word?
J: Tamary…the bunk name of our final year!
D: Anything Junior Camp Leader Hank Forton would say w/ a wicked Boston accent.
Favorite camp memento?
J: My memories :)
D: Wildwood Invitational 12 and Under Runner Up Trophy.
Did you ever get homesick at camp? How did you deal with that?
J: Yeah, I was definitely homesick at the beginning of my first summer. And always the hours after visiting day or the minutes after a parent phone call. I just kept myself busy to deal with it though. I would turn to my best friends and favorite counselors when I felt really sad. They always figured out a way to cheer me up!
D: YES. I cried a lot for the first 6 years… Kidding; sort of.
Who was your first summer love?
J: I don’t kiss and tell :) Buttttttt, my husband and I were definitely at socials together….we never met though!
D: Amanda Epstein (now Godfrey). A camp alum. I fell in love at a social, we may or may not have kissed behind the Fieldhouse and she wrote me color coordinated love notes. I still have those notes somewhere and now she’s best friends with my wife!!
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