Last night I had the pleasure of getting drinks with a friend from camp. I hadn’t seen him in probably six years. We talked about camp memories, music, politics, all good stuff. That discussion brought back some good memories about the whole institution of camp. I think camp is kind of a radical idea in these days. You leave your gadgets for a week (at least at my camp we did) and live in tents, eat food, be goofy, work on different projects, and just be outside and away from it all for a while. I miss that energy and attitude.
Camp for me is summarized in a few different memories. (I realize that I wrote about the golden mug competition a few days ago.) There’s a picture of me on Facebook where I am wearing a painted cream colored blazer, my scout uniform, and a cowboy hat. I’m chugging a quart bottle of milk all the while. I did that to advertise recycling your milk cartons. That’s not something that you’d do in pretty much any other job context. You get to be goofy, dress weird, and yell a lot to advertise something. I don’t think I’d do that at my current job.
I’ve been thinking a lot this year about how our lives are becoming increasingly streamlined and automated. You can choose to get rid of the stuff that annoys you, gives you pain, or makes you feel any other way than you want to feel. Whether that’s through your entertainment, your job, your food, or who you want to spend time with. Camp is not like those things.
I had one of my best growth experiences at camp. I remember the first night sleeping in my tent, alone. The tent was one of those musty green canvas tents that Tomahawk has used for decades. It was one of my first nights away from home and my tentmate hadn’t arrived just yet. I swear I thought I heard animals (even though I probably didn’t.) I made it through the night and I was just a little less scared the next few days. I think camp was also the first time I was homesick for anything. I cried a little bit. I also talked to my scout leaders about it. It probably helped prepare me for heading off to boarding school later in life. We have this desire to just make everything wonderful all the time. I don’t think that should be the end goal. I think we need those camp experiences that get us out of our routine and make us just a little bit scared. I believe that makes us appreciate everything that much more.
I still have some of my camp awards from the time I was on staff. I got best catchphrase (two years in a row!) for “Harumph!” and “There he is!” I also earned the prestigious Tommie award for “Best with the Leader.” I wanted that one so bad. While they are nonsensical to most people, I’m really dang proud of them.