Lady Katherine Collier, kind and wonderful soul that she is, sent me this list, which she found while searching camp related things online-
All the important things in life I’ve learned at camp:
- Appreciate the little things, like showers and laundry.
- Be flexible.
- Watch as many sunrises/sunsets as you can.
- Working with children will bring you many great stories.
- Campfire smell will stick to your clothes; cherish it.
- Take time for yourself; the quality of the time you spend with others is more important than the quantity.
- Do your work. Not for others, but for yourself.
- Savor every moment. The bad will teach you and the good will become memories.
- Laugh often.
- Hug your friends. They are your best advice givers, best source of warmth on a cold night, and the best people you’ll ever know. Cherish them and let them know how important they are to you.
While I agree with everything on this list, I’m not sure if it would be my exact top ten list, which then begs the questions- what are the most important things I’ve learned about life at camp?
- Listen to everyone.
I learned early on in my camp career that simply because you know how to do something does not mean that someone might not know a better way. Simply put, you are never too important or experienced to not listen to what everyone has to say from administrators to staff to campers.
- Say yes whenever possible.
There is some magic at camp that convinces you that you can do anything. So say yes and then you can figure out how to make it happen.
- Believing you can do something is a bigger factor than whether or not you can actually do it.
When I first starting working at camp, I thought I had made a terrible mistake. I was that staff member that you were not sure was going to make it to the end of staff week, simple as that. It wasn’t until a cooking challenge and pretending to be a pirate for an afternoon, that something clicked for me. It took a while for me to figure out what that was and it turns out that all I had to do was decide that I could do it.
- It’s hard to take yourself too seriously when you work with kids; this is a great gift.
Part of my difficulty as a first year staff member was the fact that I was an eighteen year old, who took her self super seriously. There is no better cure for this affliction than working with kids. I have dressed up as more things than I can count, told my most embarrassing “I am never going to tell this to anyone” stories to either produce a well-needed laugh or let a camper know that she is not alone in this current feeling of mortification, and for someone who can not carry a tune in any way shape or form, led entirely too many camp songs. I am all the better for it.
- Friends are friends, regardless of age, geographic location or how much time you spend together.
It’s really hard to explain to non-camp people that some of my favorite people in the world who I feel closest to are people that I have only spent a few weeks with. If I then elaborated that they ranged in age from several years younger than I am to old enough to have parented me and that some lived close enough for visits while visiting others would require long flights and more disposable income that I tend to have and it seems certain that my non-camp friends were extremely skeptical at best. For a while, I let their confusion make me feel that my camp friends were less than the friends I made elsewhere. Then I, happily, learned that they were wrong. Camp friends are amazing and always there for you, regardless of age, how far away they are and how long it’s been since we’ve seen each other.
- Pay attention.
I did not expect that a job I took out at eighteen would help decide what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. But it did. So pay attention because you might find something that you are passionate about in an expected place.
- Nature is amazing.
I love being outside; I love living outside, though I would not want to do it full-time with Vermont being so cold and snow-filled. Working at camp built on the love and appreciation for nature that my parents instilled in me through my childhood. I think that one of the best parts of camp is that we, as counselors, get to share all of what nature has to offer with our campers from the blueberries that grow on the side of the camp road to the full ramifications of skunks visiting your tent for the food you left in there.
- Plans are wonderful but they rarely work out.
This is key to life and working with children. Being prepared is important but being prepared for the fact that you are probably not going to be fully prepared for what is actually going to happen is more important.
- Hugs are not my thing but camp hugs are different.
I have been pretty clear about this, I am not a touchy-feely person. While I still may not be touchy-feely at camp, there is something about the camp hug that does warm my heart. Perhaps, thought, it is just the people that they happen with.
- Figuring out who you are is a life long process. Embrace it and enjoy it.
Another one of the great things about camp friends is that they tend to accept you for who you are, regardless of what strange phase or misguided fashion choice that may mean right now. We spend most of our lives figuring out who we are; the process is a lot more fun with friends who will accept your choices, laugh with you about those choices later on and remind you that repeating them might not be the best idea but hey, follow your heart.
So that was my top 10 life lesson learned at camp, what’s yours?