Friday, June 7, 2013

Life Lessons from Camp

Camp season has officially started and my personal favorite camp opened its gates to the first campers this morning. And I'm super sad I'm not there (again. I think this will happen every June for the rest of my life). I also feel old because ALL of my campers are now counselors. It's crazy, but I absolutely love it and know some are already fabulous counselors and my baby ettes are going to become amazing counselors. They are both such fun groups!
Sky High at sunrise
 Anyway after my camp friend and former counselor Olivia posted what she missed most about camp, I started thinking about some of the life lessons I learned at camp (there are a lot).
One of the first lessons every camper learns, whether 8 or 17, is how to take care of yourself and your things. Living in a cabin with anywhere from 7 to 30+ other girls can be tricky, especially when you have to pack enough clothes, toiletries, books, stationery and stamps, etc to last a month. In the process stuff gets misplaced or even worse, lost. The better care you take of your stuff, though, the more likely you are to go home with everything you took with you. The first part of this statement, taking care of yourself, if also something you learn pretty quickly. You learn to brush you teeth, brush your hair, wash your hair, take a shower, etc. These things may sound simple enough, but some of these girls are 8, 9, and 10 years old and have never been away from their parents for longer than a night or two and may not know how to do these things without help or being told to.
My cousin had the younger campers her first year as a counselor and was shocked when she realized they didn't know how to do their hair or make their beds. But camp teaches these skills early on in your camp career.

The view of the camp ground from Sky High

Patience. Despite having a packed schedule each and every day, each camper spends part of the term waiting. Whether it be waiting for rest period because she'll get a package or waiting for her favorite ice cream after lunch or even her favorite meal during the term - each girl waits for something. Your patience also gets tested by living with so many other girls. This goes hand-in-hand with another life lesson:

Learning to work/live with other people. Sharing such a small space with other girls is difficult. You have to wait 30+ minutes for showers some nights. You may have to share an aisle between beds with someone who is WAY messier than you. You may sit at a table with a chatty Cathy and have to wait to get a word in edgewise about the awesome package you got at rest period from your best friend. Working and living with people you don't know and sometimes don't always like requires a lot of patience.

The importance of naps. Every afternoon the girls are sent back to their cabins with their counselors for a two hour rest period. During this time the girls get their mail, can read and write, or even nap. For two hours everyone is required to stay quiet and to "recharge" for the rest of the afternoon. The younger girls totally dislike this time (other than getting mail), but as they get older they realize how awesome it is that they can take a real nap and really recharge.

To try new things. Every girl is required to take between 7 and 9 activities on a blocked schedule (5 on MWF and 4 on TTS). Some girls find it easy to pick their activities and are on their ways. Other girls don't know what they like. Should they take diving and learn to dive? Should they take drawing? Are they good at tennis? There are tons of things to do at camp and you definitely have to try them all to find out what you like and what you're good at. This doesn't just apply to activities, though. We have excellent food at camp. At home with their families, some girls may eat the same things week after week or even may eat a lot of fast food (like me, totally guilty), and may be picky (again guilty), but at camp there are so many new and absolutely delicious foods you just have to try them all!
Chapel Hill
Camp Mystic has three ideals that every camper learns and can recite by heart on the spot. Not only are these great lessons to learn and use at camp, but you can easily apply them to life outside the gates.
Be a better person for being at Mystic. Because of the many life lessons you learn at camp, I'd dare to say most of the girls that go through those gates leave better people.

Let Mystic Bring Out the Best in You. As you grow up, you learn a lot of bad habits like biting your nails, gossiping, and cussing. The directors at camp push you to be the best version of yourself you can be. At camp you have the focus and support around you needed to try and curb these habits.

Grow Spiritually. Mystic is a Christian camp. There's devotionals every night in the cabins (led by the girls a lot of the time). There's vespers Sunday evenings and Assembly and Devotionals Sunday mornings. These are just the most obvious times campers and counselors spend time worshipping. It's hard to be in such a beautiful place for so many weeks and not feel God's presence.

I could go on and on and on... and on. But I'll stop here with just these things I've already listed. My family loves camp. My grandmother, aunt, and cousin went to Mystic before me. My step-sister went as a camper until last year (she'll be a counselor in the future). And we have numerous second and third cousins that also have attended, do attend, and will attend Mystic. I only pray I have kids that love camp as much as the rest of us (boys or girls because there are some great boys camps down there, too!).

Did you go to camp? Did you learn these life lessons? What other life lessons did you learn?

1 comment:

Olivia said...

Love this post and I love you! Wish we were there together :)