For the past five years, I’ve been lucky enough to go to summer camp. It started with one week of freedom and independence from my parents, and after that I was hooked. One week turned into two and then three. This summer, it was four. As someone who lives in the city, camp is my escape from the demands of real life; I don’t have to worry about snapchat streaks, friend drama, the coming school year, family problems. I can go to a place where I know I won’t be judged and can be myself without inhibitions.It also means that everyone else I meet can be themselves with no inhibitions. That fact combined with a month’s worth of living together and no outside-world distractions means that at camp, you get to know people for who they really are. You see what they’re like when they’re stressed, angry, happy, and because of this very unique situation, you end up with very real, raw friendships that last for years, if not lifetimes.
I really do feel as well, that I grow as a person when I go to camp. Being away from my phone and day to day life allows me to focus on myself and realize what things that actually make me happy.
The time I spend at camp has definitely taught me some valuable life lessons too. I’ve compiled a list of lessons I learned this summer to remember during the year when things get stressful. My hope is that they’ll motivate me to keep myself grounded, less stressed, and happier (maybe they’ll do the same for you). So without further ado, here are …
6 Life Lessons I Learned at Camp
1. Spending Time Disconnected from Technology Can Help You Feel More Connected to the People in Your Real Life
It’s uncommon for most teenagers, but I actually look forward to not having my phone for a month each summer. It takes away distractions and allows me to live in the present (as cheesy as that sounds). Some of the best memories I have are of when my friends and I had conversations or were doing dumb things that brought us closer together but that we never would have done if we’d had our phones. It’s also nice to be able to do whatever you want and know that it’s not being recorded and posted places; the only way people would know about our shenanigans is if we told them. Even if you don’t have a mandatory phone free period, I would highly recommend taking at least a week without your phone (or at least social media). If you can get friends to do this with you, it’ll feel even better.
2. Difficult Situations Can Turn Strangers Into Close Friends
As strange as it sounds, my favourite memories of camp are the ones that I hated in the moment, like the hour long lightning storm on our canoe trip when we had no cell reception and tents as our only shelter. It was terrifying at the time, but I know that getting through it by playing cards, singing songs, and trying to distract each other brought us closer and gave us all an unusual memory to share and bond us together. It doesn’t even need to be a stressful experience, any kind of unique, or strange event that you experience with another person will bring you closer to a person.
3. You Can’t Judge Someone by Their Reputation
I’ve met so many people over the years at camp who are some of my closest friends but who i don’t think I’d be friends with if I’d met them in a different situation. Usually at a glance, our personalities clash, or we hang out with different crowds of people; on the surface we just don’t seem compatible. After spending time with them though and being forced into difficult situations where we had to rely on each other, I realized I had a lot more in common with them than I initially thought. I always look to these friends as examples of what good can come if you don’t judge people by the company they keep.
4. It’s Okay to Want the Small House in the Country Instead of the Penthouse in New York
Maybe it’s just my circle of friends or maybe it’s society, but I’ve always felt that in order to be successful, I need to have a huge career with a six-figure salary and a nice house in the city. On most days, that is what I want and see myself doing, but I like that going to camp, you meet people who’ve taken many different paths in their lives. Some of them travel the world doing volunteer work, others work in national parks and spend their free time hiking, rock-climbing and doing insane outdoor sports. Some people do choose the traditional path (at least traditional to me) of university and a steady job, but I think it’s really good for me to see that you can be happy without all the things I’ve been told make a person successful. It’s a nice reminder that it actually is possible to do what you love instead of what people tell you to do and it’s something I now always keep in the back of my mind.
5. Keeping Anger and Frustration Under Control is an Incredible Social Skill that Will Serve You Well
At camp, we do activities that are meant to improve teamwork and leadership skills. They usually involve completing physically or mentally challenging puzzles that require each person to contribute in order for everyone to succeed as a team. Doing these activities can be stressful, especially when things aren’t going as well as you want them to. They can be frustrating, but you always learn a lot from them. I’d say the biggest lesson I’ve learned is that you can be way more productive with a positive attitude. When the group is making mistakes instead of progress, the worst hting you can do is snap at at a teammate or shut down someone’s idea. It puts everyone in a bad mood and prevents work from getting done.I’ve found that it always pays to try people’s ideas, even if you think they’re useless. It makes people feel heard, and it might give you ideas for more solutions to the problem at hand. It also means you feel better when the problem is solved because everyone has worked together as a team to get to the finishing point and there are no hard feelings.
6. Confidence is key
If I could only tell you one thing I learned at camp, this would be it. I know you’ve heard it before, but I’m going to make sure you hear it again. Displaying confidence in yourself is the most important thing you can do in all aspects of your life, even if you don’t truly believe it. I don’t mean be an arrogant ass hole, I mean speak up when you have ideas, even if they might not work. If they do, you’ve proven yourself an asset to your team, if they don’t you’ve learned a valuable lesson.When you behave confidently, you’ll find yourself feeling more confident in your mind, and you’ll give your friends, colleagues, etc. a sense of security. You’ll be someone they know they can trust and I can promise it’s a good feeling.