I spent my summers starting at age 12 going to a summer camp in Brevard, North Carolina. Being from Florida, just getting to wear a sweatshirt in the summer time was exciting. Add in over night hikes, mountain biking, white water rafting, and countless other summer camp activities and I was a smitten kitten.
In fact, I was so in love with camp that when it came time to look at colleges I only really looked at schools in North Carolina. I knew I was meant to be a North Carolina girl. So sure enough I ended up spending my college years and most of my post college life in the Land of the Pine.
Camp taught me so much about myself. I remember telling my parents when I was 14 that if I could either send my kids to private school or summer camp, I’d pick summer camp. I valued my time there that much. I was a pretty independent, responsible kid. I mean, I got into my share of mischief for sure. I was often the mischief ringleader. But it was just that, mischief. I never really did anything bad. Camp was all about mischief.
Camp allowed me to be the most me I’d ever been. It allowed me to really focus in on the parts of me that made me decisive, strong, and capable of doing things I wasn’t really sure I could do. Even more important it put me in a safe place to try things that I wouldn’t necessarily have tried had I been home with my everyday friends and family. It harvested my adventurous spirit.
I remember being miles into a night hike at the age of 13 in what felt like the middle of the woods and being certain we were lost. We weren’t allowed to turn on our flashlights because we needed to have our eyes adjusted to the darkness. At the time I remember thinking “What? Then why the heck are there even flash lights?” But my eyes adapted and worked well. To this day I try to remember that and hardly ever carry a flashlight.
I remember having mice in our cabin and it being “no big deal” after a while. Until my counselor woke up with one in her hair. At that point we pulled everything out of the cabin and cleaned it from top to bottom. We found where the mice were getting in and stuffed the hole with metal netting. No big deal.
I remember being on a mountain bike ride and having to ride up, up, up this mountain. My Florida girl legs never having ridden a bike up hill before, my body wasn’t used to working like that at all. But I knew I had to make it to the top. I’d be damned if I was going to be the one that didn’t finish and had to have the counselor go back and sit in the van with me.
Boy was I rewarded with that awesomely fun trip down the other side. I don’t think I’d felt adrenaline like that before in my life.
I’m also lucky enough to keep in touch with many of the friends I made at summer camp. Partially in thanks to social media but something tells me we’d still be in touch without it.
This trip has brought back so many of those summer camp memories. It’s made me recall many of the lessons and traits the I learned and finessed at summer camp. Its also given me the same sense of pride and feeling like “Damn, I really think if I wanted to I could do just about anything.” I hope my kids have that belief in themselves. I hope this trip is their first big experience of trying new things and pushing themselves beyond their comfort zones.
One things for sure, they’ll both be going to summer camp.