Going to Summer Camp Changed My Life
Where I grew up going to summer camp was the norm. Every summer I would get on a bus for 7 weeks of outdoor bliss. No parents. No technology (and this is before the days of smartphones). All the activities you could dream up. Amazing people. Ok food. And memories I carry with me for my lifetime.
I went to Camp Walden, literally a cabin in the woods (ok several cabins in the woods) as Henry David Thoreau described his Walden. It was in the middle of nowhere just north-east of a small town called Bancroft. I went there because I had two cousins there but also because there was no chance I could escape back to the city. After arriving that first day there was no way I wanted to escape. The day I returned from camp for the summer I would start counting the days until I could return!
I got to thinking about summer camp this week while I was visiting the O Nest. I was on the weekly Big Bird Camp VLog talking about why I loved camp and helping Lesko and Steph with their weekly update. For the last day, I have been singing camp cheer songs in my head, reliving Walden Games, barefooting off the boom, and all the things that shaped me into the woman I am today.
It also helped when my friend, (and who am I kidding my first real crush at summer camp) Adam, posted a picture of the water ski docks last week. It’s where I was introduced to a variety of music from DMB, to Sarah MacLachlan, to Miles Davis acid jazz, and of course a good dance session to Abba. And yes, Adam, I agree, ‘home is where you hang your towel.’
Summer camp changed my life. It taught us to appreciate nature. How to live with others, because 16 girls living in a wooden box is one heck of a way to learn compassion, teamwork, empathy, and how to giggle and giggle hard. It taught me resilience. It taught me to live in the moment. From cloud appreciation to raft appreciation, water skiing, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, tennis, mud sliding, A&C, land sports, colour war and Walden Games… I had summers that were filled with adventure, with love, and with amazing people.
If I could go back to Walden for 7 weeks, even for a weekend, I would in a heartbeat. I may not have been a camper there for 20 years but it only feels like yesterday when Ted was yelling ‘get on the buses you’ll see all your friends again next year.’
No matter where you are in life go to summer camp. Put on an outfit that makes you feel confident. Leave behind the things that are your safety net. Go meet new people. Go try something out of your ordinary. And soak up the adventure. Because trust me it will change your life.
For my Volée Family – Seriously go to Big Bird Camp. Book that plane ticket to Syracuse, NYC, or Albany. Get your butt on a bus or in a car and drive to Equinunk, PA. This is four days that will transform your life. You already have a bond, you are all part of the #Sisterhood, so no need to be afraid going. And if you are, put on that piece of O that makes you feel your strongest, because trust me it is a launching point for any conversation.
For my Ontario Friends – So many of the W &T Camps now offer adult camp. A chance to go relive your childhood and escape your children! I just did a quick google search and there is so much to choose from!
Across North America – I know there are some running camps out there, from Bruce Camp with Steph & Ben Bruce in Flagstaff, Kara’s retreat, to Max King’s trail running camp, a Transrockies or Ragnar is a form of summer camp in a way, there are so very many options. Notable published this list of 10 camps in 2016 and I suspect some if not all are still in operation, and I just did another quick google search on Summer Camp 2018 and there are many hits.
One Day when this PhD is done maybe I’ll put together a camp of all my favourite things. Writing letters to my friends about why they’re awesome; of course in fancy colours with stickers and glitter. All the outdoor activities – hiking, running, cycling, cloud appreciation, etc. Nap and reading hour. Plus all the yummy food!