I need to do this. I have been keeping this inside for over 3 years now, and it is really emotionally hard on me. Last week I told a story about the spiritual moment I had at summer camp. While this was not a regular occurrence, it goes to show you just how special and important this place was to me.
This was a summer camp where campers go for four or eight weeks. 8 and 9 year olds can go for two weeks, and some campers go for six. Four weeks is the most common, except for the oldest campers who often opt for eight weeks. It was a summer camp where you really get to know the other campers, and you see them year after year. These are true friendships that develop. These are two out of the seven friends invited to my wedding are camp friends friendships, not just Girl Scout camp friendships. To be fair, though, my social and friendship issues did follow me to an extent.
I started going when I was 14. This is pretty old compared with when other campers started, but it’s how long it took me to convince my parents to let me go to a 4 week sleep away camp. I was the kid that never got homesick; I got campsick. I loved every second I spent at this camp. Participating in plays, doing archery, taking “soapies” in the lake (which, oh, green living me just cringes at the thought of!), going on back packing trips, forming great inside jokes with my friends.
When I was 16, I was invited to be a counselor-in-training (CIT). There were 12 of us girls in a cabin, which was a lot! In that situation, you either hate or love each other by the end, and with us it was pure love, laughter, dance parties, and “nakey lakey” (we skinny dipped a lot that summer). I will never forget that summer as the best summer of my life.
Two years later, I was so excited to be a counselor there. There would be 8 of us from my CIT summer, as well as many other super cool people. As I mentioned last week, the training week was amazing. Then the campers showed up.
This was not a job I was ready for. I am an introvert. I’m awful with children. I have no concept of what is socially expected. These all led to me being a decent counselor, but not inspirational or awesome and being really bad at planning and running activities other than archery class. The first month I was partnered with older counselors, and they did not respect me, which led to me being viewed by my boss in a not-so-hot light. This improved once those counselors left and I started working with another new counselor, but it still wasn’t a great job for me. The worst was that I needed more sleep to function on a basic level than most 18-year-olds, so I couldn’t even socialize with the other counselors after lights out.
At the end of the summer, both my boss and I knew that this was not the job for me, and we both agreed that I should not come back the following summer. She told me I would always be part of the family there. My fiancé is the only person I have told that my boss didn’t want me back. Everyone thinks it was just me making the decision because the summer was too rough on me.
Since then, I have had a lot of negative emotions with that camp. When I see pictures from the summers, or people from my CIT summer still working there, or when I see the camp friendships that have been better maintained than mine. I left camp on a negative note, not the strong positive note of my CIT summer. The negative emotions are not anger, just overwhelming sadness at what I lost because of my personality type.
Every once in a while, I have camp dreams. The night before I typed this up was such a night. I wake up from them feeling emotionally drained and desperately wishing I had a close female friend to talk to. I wish I could go back in time and experience my CIT summer again, or even to just experience that level of friendship and joy again in my life now.
Eventually the emotions from the dream fade and I forget about camp for a bit longer. But they always come back. Even after three years. As it is, however, I would trade those summers for anything. Even my summer as a counselor. I would rather have had that experience, than to have missed it and always wondered.