June 24th – August 2012
Ok ladies and gentlemen, the day has finally come for me to blog about summer camp.
Now, when starting this blog, and even making this New Year’s resolution almost a full year ago, I knew that my 2 months at summer camp would ultimately be my downfall. I’m not going to go on about how wonderful summer camp is because any of you who know me are already aware of this. And for my followers who don’t know me personally, it’s likely you have either been to summer camp or know someone who has. I know I’m not alone when I say that this, but the 5 years I spent as a camp counsellor have had an immeasurable impact on my character, my beliefs and the person I am today.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of the job, my opportunities to try new things this summer were extremely limited. First of all, the camp I work for is in an isolated, remote location, far away from any real taste of civilization. Additionally, this was my third consecutive summer working for the same camp so it was very routine, as I had been through the whole experience before. Along the way there were lots of little new things: playing a new character, having a camper with a new physical or emotional challenge, working with new staff members etc. But unlike the rest of my year, these aren’t things that are monumental or scary or exciting on their own. They all add up together to provide an overall experience of the 8 weeks we spend there.
For this reason, I don’t have a list of numbered “new things” to share with you. So instead, I’m going to write about a few of the big things I accomplished and some of my difficulties during what was presumably my final summer as a camp counsellor.
Despite being restricted by the job, I managed to accomplish a few notable things this summer. A couple favourites were breaking into an elementary school, borrowing a friend’s car, eating “vegetarian” (with some cheating), turning 20 years old, going on Maid of the Mist, and cruising in the camp mini van. Beyond those, I tried a few new restaurants around Grimsby/St. Catharine’s. In addition to running my own events, I got to help out other staff members in their planning, which was really rewarding. I also got to help out with the Leadership program, which I myself participated in years ago. Even though my job was very similar to previous years, I did my best to try some new things and I have so many hilarious stories and memories from this summer.
On the other hand, my summer was also very challenging. A lot of my close friends did not return to camp this summer and it affected me much more than I was expecting it to. I had a different support system than I was used to and it was a strange adjustment. Besides that, many of my friends from school spent the summer in their first co-op work term, an opportunity I had given up to be at camp.
Camp is unbelieving draining, not only physically, but emotionally as well. For the first time in 7 years, I spent time at camp feeling really down and lonely. It completely caught me off guard. I was jealous and resentful and even at points regretted my decision to return. Looking back now, I know that most of those feelings can be attributed to lack of sleep, and the major change in routine, diet, exercise and stress that camp involves.
Finally, I struggled with having to say goodbye to camp. Although returning for Summer 2013 was an option I considered, in my last days there this summer I knew I had to move on. On the very last night of camp we always have a big party for all the staff. It usually gets pretty wild. Everyone gets hammered for the first time in 2 months and there is always drama. I waited until everything had mostly settled down and took a long, slow, night walk all across camp. This got interrupted by a good friend who gave me the best pep talk I’ve ever had. He almost made me cry – and that’s a big deal. After choking back a few tears I went and sat by the campfire, which is one of my favourite places in the world. I can’t think of any other time I’ve been that overwhelmed with emotion. To this day I’m amazed with how much camp has become a part of my life.
Overall though, I could never regret returning to a place that has so many happy memories for me. Camp, and this summer camp in particular, has genuinely has changed my life forever and I’ll always be grateful I could give back to a place that gave me so much.
So that’s my 2012 summer experience in a nutshell. I could go on forever about the benefits of summer camp and how I wish every child could have a camp experience. I’m sorry this post is so different from the other ones, but there’s no way I could possibly describe this experience in a numbered list. So for now, I’ll just leave you with this:
May The Road Rise Up To Meet You
May The Wind Be Always At Your Back
May The Sun Shine Warm Upon Your Face
The Rain Fall Soft Upon Your Fields
And Until We Meet Again
May Good Fortune Hold You
In The Palm Of Her Hand
Lots of love and yellow hats,