There was an article posted recently by Thought Catalog entitled 18 Things Everyone Should Start Making Time for Again (by Brianna Wiest). Immediately I was taken aback by how many of these points relate directly to what we do at camp! And now, of course, I have to share with you, together with Brianna Wiest’s list, 18 Reasons Girls (and kids in general) Need Camp.
1. Writing things by hand. Letters to friends, lists for the store, goals for the week, notes for love, thank you cards and memos to coworkers. Digital communication is easy and convenient but ask anybody: there’s a huge difference between texting someone to say that you love them and hope they have a great day and writing it on a note and leaving it next to their bed.
How do you communicate with your friends and family at home while at camp? By “old-fashioned” letters of course! Right after lunch is Rest Period and besides the two times a week we volun-tell you to write home, most campers spend time writing letters about their friends, the activities and the funny stories that they have to share from their time at camp. Parents save each and every letter they receive from you. In return, one of the best parts of the day is when you receive YOUR letters and postcards from home.
2. Savoring time to do nothing. Taking a cue from pre-industrialized society and cultures that enjoy siestas and long, drawn-out, sit-down teas that serve no other purpose than to spend time enjoying the time you have.
When someone asks you what you did during Rest Period or Free Period, and you can’t say exactly what you did– good for you! Those times of the day are for you. You can read, you can play GaGa or tetherball, take a shower, play cards, go for a swim, or just.hang.out. It is okay to just hang.
3. Thinking before responding. We’ve become too conditioned to require things immediately. Someone asks a question, and we have to respond that second. Such was not the case before instant messaging and comment threads. A sign of true intelligence and confidence, I think, is someone who takes time to consider the question at hand in a little more depth, and then offers a response.
No better way to learn this is when you live with 8 other roommates!! You learn quickly at camp to take your time before responding. You want to do so thoughtfully and completely because you know that by living in this small community of people, you want the same consideration.
4. Cooking a nice meal just for the sake of doing so. It really trains you to defy your need for instant gratification and of course puts you in touch with something that’s very human and can be lovely if done right.
No one can argue that one of the best meals at camp is Tin-Foil Dinners over the campfire. #4 probably demonstrates that it is no coincidence that you are cooking it on your own. It takes time to chop up those veggies, figure out what you want on it (and what to leave off) and of course…when do you put on the cheese?! Then you have to wait while all that deliciousness cooks on the fire. Your patience is always well-rewarded with that yummy meal that you prepared for yourself.
5. Getting really dressed up for no other reason than just wanting to.
Uh hello, Evening Programs! It is always amazing how the theme of the program rarely matters. There are always campers dressed in a sparkly gown or boa and there is always someone with underwear on her head. Why? Because you want to! ‘Nuff said.
6. Books. Actual hard copy books that you can scribble notes in and mark off sections of and smell ink through and hear the sound of turning pages and bending spines while you read.
I don’t know how much scribbling you girls do in your books but I do know that campers love to read at camp. It is FUN to curl up in your bed with a good book. And once you are done with all the books you brought to camp, you share them with a friend. Your next book is one that your bunkmate loaned you. Reading at camp is the best.
7. Making phone calls to relatives for no other reason than to just say hi, and to ask how they’re doing.
Okay. We don’t do this. But you should do this when you get home from camp. You’ll have fun stories to share! 🙂
8. Disconnecting from technology frequently enough that we won’t be anxious and feeling like we’re missing something when we try to do so for an extended period of time.
You girls always think you are going to miss your phones, TV shows and your computers…but you don’t. Whether you’ll admit it or not, you feel relieved to leave the technology at home and instead you’re excited about the new headlamp you have at camp.
9. Celebrating things with long, multiple course dinners that we hold for people.
Meals at camp last forever…seemingly. They are a time for great, delicious food. But they are also a time to catch up with your friends about their activities and their day. It is a time we celebrate with songs (lots of songs) and we talk, we have real conversations with other people. Plus, we have dessert after both lunch AND dinner!
10. Cleaning because it’s satisfying and doing things like painting walls or getting fresh flowers just because it’s therapeutic.
I know I will get an argument on this one. I KNOW that you are not going to tell me that Cabin Clean-Up is particularly “satisfying” but, I do know that you really appreciate a tidied up area around your bed. And how nice is it when you know exactly what shirts are cleaned because you actually re-folded your clothes so you know what is in your cubbies?
11. Spending time with kids, and doing kid things with them. They just know what’s up.
Kids are good for adults but also good for kids. You are fun, its true!
12. Answering things in a timely fashion, not putting off invitations and requests just because we can.
We are lucky at camp, we don’t have to plan too far in advance for anything! But when Nutshell is having a Spa during Free Period…you know when your 10 year old pal asks you to be there- you will be the first in line for a massage!
13. Making sure relationships are actually based on time spent with one another. People seem to be sustaining them through only digital means with increasing frequency and I can understand how that’s important if it’s temporarily long distance but in general, physically being with people is the only thing that will give you that sense of human connectedness.
Many of you are going to say the best part about camp is your friends. And at camp you get to spend every waking (and even sleeping!) moment with them. They are in the washhouses with you, at meals, at activities, during rest period, at Evening Program and even sleeping in the room with you. Nothing is better than to be surrounded by your friends 24/7.
You’re never done making friends at camp. There is always a potentially new friend that you share a sink with to brush your teeth in the morning, or is in your tribe during table-setting, or you share a sailboat with during 3rd period or who you perform a lip synch with on stage during Evening Program. There are future friends everywhere at camp.
14. Just sitting and listening to music. We’ve made music background noise in our everyday lives, but now and again we should just sit and enjoy it like people used to.
Music and song seems to be everywhere at camp. We sing songs at every meal, music makes Cabin Clean-Up more fun and the archery instructors are always playing some tunes.
But I think the time when we might appreciate music and song the most is during O’Naug. Campers and staff stand up in front of all of camp and sing a capella or play the piano or guitar. The rest of us in the audience are captivated by their talent and respect them for their courage to do so in front of all of us.
15. Traveling by train, or if that’s not possible, at least exploring places that you pass everyday. Especially if you live in a big city, there are always little hidden gems around that you won’t believe you lived without seeing while they were a block away from you all along.
Believe it or not, Kamaji campers USED to travel by train to camp!! Now, we don’t do that anymore. But you all travel a long way to get to the Northwoods. Just by spending the four or eight weeks at camp, in the woods, out in nature…you are exploring a new environment.
And even while you are at camp at your “home-away-from-home”, you often run through parts of the woods during Capture the Flag or spend a few hours during Adventure Day with Mike on a Bog Walk. You continue to explore.
16. Putting personal health and well-being first, as it often falls to the wayside in importance. This means, aside from the obvious, taking those personal days and using them to just relax. We’ve made such a quirky commodity out of enjoying napping and relaxing, as though doing so makes us boring and old. It doesn’t, it’s healthy.
I can go at this one from a couple different angles!! First, back to Rest Period, we are queens at relaxation. We Kamaji girls see nothing wrong with just quietly reading, writing a letter or making a friendship bracelet in our porches.
On Adventure Days, the day a week that we do something different than the typical activity day, there is usually some time built-in for an extra long shower time or just to hang a little bit…just to relax and slow down the pace.
And health…most of you are preeeetty good at letting us know in Club Med if something doesn’t look quiet right or if you just need to crash for a solid nap!
17. Planning something, especially with someone else, as simple as dinner or as grandiose as a long vacation next year. You always need something to look forward to.
As straight-forward as the camp schedule can be, cabin groups are always planning something. You plan your next Adventure Day, what silly costume you are going to wear to BBQ, your trip song, what song you want to sing at O’Naug or during the Variety Show.
18. Stopping to talk to people throughout the day. Connecting with them genuinely, as such interaction is really important but is becoming increasingly less common. Turning our phones off when out to dinner (who even turns them off anymore?) and learning to not spend all of our time documenting whatever we’re doing for social media. It often takes away from the experience itself.
And this, perhaps is the essence of camp. At camp you are connecting with people face to face. They are people your own age in your cabin, older campers during activities, younger campers with tribe activities and counselors and staff throughout your days. You are sharing fun things with them, consoling someone when she is sad, compromising with a friend about what mu sic to listen to in the cabin and hearing advice from a trusted counselor…all of these are examples of genuine connection and interaction. We have the luxury at camp of not being distracted by the ping of an email or facebook notification and the constant buzzing of your phone with a text or snapchat. You live in the moment to connect with the people around you.
The article suggests that if you make time of each of these points, that you will be a happier person. I’ll take it one step further, if you go to camp…you’ll be a happier person!!