Have you ever spent a summer as a camp counsellor in an American summer camp?
I did back in 2011 and even now, four years later, I get this feeling in the pit of my stomach a kind of homesickness feeling for camp. It’s like a painful longing to be in a place I truly felt like I belonged rather than a sad feeling of being away from friends and family. It’s a feeling of missing the simplicity of camp life, how quickly these strangers become your best friend and how everyone is in this together. It’s being able to be a kid again, dressing up and acting like an idiot just because you can and it’s fun. It’s being so ‘camp cracked’ that real life doesn’t even feel like it exists anymore. This feeling I get is the wanting for a summer of living back in the ‘camp bubble’ and forgetting and the real world and being an adult. Missing life at camp comes in waves, but it is mostly a seasonal thing. Something that hits at the beginning of June and stays with you through into August. A feeling brought on purely by the time of the year but also by the smell in the air, the late summer evenings and a longing to just be out by the lake. It is a feeling that no matter how many years ago your summer as a counsellor happened, doesn’t go away.
Summer camp will always be a special place for me. It was a trip I took back before I even started this blog, right at the beginning of my love for travel and at a time where I just needed to get out of the UK. Camp America was my choice because it was the only thing I could afford to book at that time. It was a trip that was more about getting to America than it was working at summer camp. It was a trip I never had high expectations for but left with the biggest imprint imaginable. During that summer at camp I slowly began to realise how amazing life there is. How much of a family you become and how many years traditions go back. Summer camp was about getting back to nature and just living life to the full – something we (as a generation obsessed with social media) do not do enough of.
Summer camp isn’t only special for the life you have there but also because it is where my boyfriend and I met four years ago. Camp Walden is a place that is always going to be pivotal in our relationship and even harder to forget because of that. Whereas most people don’t get to reminisce about camp daily or even weekly, we do. Especially at this time of year it is hard for a day to go past without saying remember this one time at camp. We find ourselves playing music from the summer of 2011, watching the amazing videos from our camp days and generally talking about why it is so special. Our time hop accounts are a constant reminder of what we were doing at camp four years ago and how we have missed it every year since. Our Facebook feeds a constant reminder of what is going on at camp this very day, the cause of many a jealous prangs over the coming summer as the best time ever plays out again for people we don’t even know and many more we do.
I’m always going to want to return to camp, but having had an amazing summer as a counsellor before I worry it just wouldn’t be the same again. All the counsellors who were there with us have moved on too and I’m not even sure that I’m young enough to go back anymore. Well in terms of being a camp counsellor anyway, would I be too old if I returned? Would I be able to enjoy another summer at camp or would I forever be trying to recreate the amazing one I’ve had? Real life makes returning to camp year in year out very difficult. Camp is likely to remain a homesick feeling for many more years to come not knowing whether to return or not, whilst being unable to explain that homesick feeling to anyone who hasn’t been to summer camp.