I hope my posts have shown camp to be an incredible (and hugely recommended) experience, however, there is one important disclosure I feel obliged to make:
No matter how much you don’t want it to, summer will end. The end of summer means you will have to say Good Bye to many very close friendships.
It happened last year, again this year, and I’m sure it would happen next year and every year I returned to camp. The intense camp environment where you work, play and sleep all together allows for a remarkable transformation: over a period of just two months, complete strangers will become some of your closest friends. Camp is a bubble, you don’t have huge amounts of interactions with the outside world, bar campers coming in, and leaving on occasional break days which means you’ll depend heavily on those around you. They will feel like an integral part of your life. Finally, you’re likely to meet very like-minded people. Most people at my camp were chilled, adventurous, happy, and outgoing people, who I naturally got on well with. I’m a pretty sociable person and always try to be friends with everyone. That meant a lot of goodbyes. Together, it is these reasons goodbyes are so tough.
Yesterday it was leaving day. The past week, the atmosphere around camp had been different – as the end drew nearer, everyone started to show their appreciation for each other more. Time with each other became a treasured commodity. There was also a great deal of reminiscing: remembering various stories and incidents from the summer. Such reminiscing was also facilitated by receiving our yearbooks and watching the staff video which compiled photos and videos throughout summer. “Remember that time when…?” “I forgot … did that!”
I find it hard leaving behind people who have played such an important part in a chapter my life, and I always have. It just feels so unnatural, and against all instincts, when all you want to do is spend more time and have more fun with them. Despite all reasoning I fail to see why all good things must come to an end, and can’t help but think it is the end of something, and with that, a sense of finality and closure.
Everyone gathers around the vans to say their goodbyes to each other. Many of the 90 tired, worn-out staff have woken early to see the first group off. We’ve all been on the same journey during the short time we’ve shared, but now we are all heading in different directions. Hugs are shared, tears shed. These cannot ease the farewells which last 30 minutes (You know farewells are serious when they last 30 minutes). I know I’ll see many of these people again, and already have plans to see some of them, but I’m not sure that makes it much easier. In the moment, I can’t even imagine not seeing them from lunch to dinner, let alone for days, weeks, months or even… years. As the vans drive away and out of view, there is a sense of hollowness
Of course, I don’t mean to actually deter anyone from considering working at a summer camp. I firmly believe that you should celebrate what you’ve had. “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” The fact you will leave upset is just testament to how great a time you’ve had and is more a reason to go, than not to. I do believe you should treasure every second you spend with the other people though – time moves quickly.