Friday, June 22, 2012

This Season

When I stop and think about it, summer camp is a really odd place. 

It's an intriguing conglomeration of people and ideas, all squished together in tight quarters for a few months with sometimes nothing in common other than the desire to work at summer camp.

I've been put in charge of other people's off spring. I'll never meet the parents. Never have a discussion. Just a brief, one week interaction with dozens of random kids I'll probably never see again.  

In the last two weeks, I have personally met and introduced myself to about 200 people (about half of which whose names I can remember). Most of that number is summer camp staff, but I've interacted with a lot of kids too.

Onstage, I've played a fashion model from Paris, a girl named Kat, an Olympic newscaster, and a little kid learning to wake board.

I have shared meals, ideas, spoons, and pretty intense volleyball games with people I hardly know.

I have cooked in the kitchen, served meals, MC'd a ski show, cleaned bathrooms, played piano, life guarded, watched kiddos blob, taught yoga and Zumba, sang silly songs, done office work, taken kids to the nurse, subbed for cabins, and played dodge ball in the mud.

I've put on this role of "summer camp staff" again for the fourth time. And I'm not quick to forget that it's a unique experience. If offers a diverse landscape of experiences and opportunities and people that are hard to find in one place for such a temporary period of time.

It really is weird.

Sociologically, you're matched up with people you might never want to interact with otherwise, but you do it anyway.

Psychologically, you're expected to buy in to what the camp's selling and be excited about it.

Spiritually, you're somewhat on display.

Mentally, you're trying to juggle your "normal" life with "camp" life and "school" life and on and on.

Physically, you're beat. You're lacking sleep. You're eating food you're not used to. But you do it any way.


Is it really for the kids?

I can answer this question easily: no. Personally, I know that the most important reason I come to work at camp is not for the kids. Maybe it should be. 

But I work at camp to remind me that I am young.
I work at camp because I get to play sports every day.
I work at camp because Jeremy loves camp.
I work at camp because it's fun.
I work at camp because it's exhausting.
I work at camp because I always learn so much about myself and others.

Yeah, kids kinda drive me crazy. I'm working on that. And when I say "I'm working on that" what I really mean is: I'll like them when they're 19. Kids are illogical and dramatic, just like we all were at that age. And still, even though my hypothesis about kids has remained mostly unchanged in the four years I've worked at camp, I understand them and can relate to them better than I could before summer camp. If we ever have kids, they'll be grateful for that.

We've only just begun our adventure this summer. The oddness of camp continues. I'll spend a boat-load of time with people whose names I won't be able to recall two years from now. I'll wear several hats. I'll be lonely at times and overjoyed at others. This is a season in our lives. And if I work it right, I will look back years from now and say, "Ya know what, that summer was important. It taught me..."

I'm embracing this season.