This past spring as the snow finally began to melt and the flowers finally began to melt and the flowers finally began to bloom and Lake Michigan finally began to transform from a frozen ice sheet into a recognizable body of water, the conversation around my school quickly turned to summer plans. It was well understood that “What are you doing this summer?” was not meant to be taken as an innocent inquisition, but as a loaded interrogation.
Discussions of summertime took an air of competition- Who had landed the most prestigious internship? Who would be researching in the most state-of-the-art lab? Who had signed up for the most rigorous course load? Naturally, I was discounted as a non-threatening competitor the moment people found out I would be spending my summer working as a camp counselor.
A popular follow-up usually sounded something like, “Not ready to take on the real world quite yet?” Typically, I would chalk this kind of response up to the other person’s envy that I would be spending my days in the lake rather than in a cubicle or surfing and sailing rather than filing paperwork. Let them have their moment, I would tell myself… they’re only jealous and the real world can wait any how.
More recently though, I’ve come to realize that what we’re doing here at camp provides us with exactly the kinds of invaluable life skills and experiences that make us equipped to face the real world head on. While my classmates are busy figuring out how to make the most out of a Starbucks run or how to stack paper just right so that the copier doesn’t jam, my campmates and I are learning how to communicate across age gaps and language barriers and how to make game time decisions when the skies open up in the middle of a sail class.
The most important camp lessons are the ones we learn without even realizing it, for instance halfway through my school’s 30 hour dance marathon this past March when I thanked my lucky stars that I had spent so much time perfecting my moves and improving my stamina at CT dinner dance parties. Or during a class presentation when I summon the stage presence that I learned by acting in senior banquets. Or even when I’m tackling a group project and I use the teamwork and collaboration skills that I gathered planning countless airbands and interruptions.
Every moment of every day at camp is a learning experience, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a skill you acquire here that can’t be translated to the real world. So forget the internship and choose to spend your time doing something that’s truly valuable, like binge-eating starbusts and pringles at 8 PM with all of your best friends.
-Lady Kate Gladstone