Top 4 lessons (because I'm too tired to write 5) I learned after spending 62 days at summer camp in the Adirondacks! (Thanks for the question, Trish)
1. Summer camp isn't a vacation
Owning a summer camp is a romantic idea; leaving home for the summer, owning a beautiful piece of land, and running a seasonal business. Don't be deceived, it's SO MUCH WORK! You have to satisfy the health department, the ACA (American Camp Association), staff, counselors, and parents...not to mention the campers! I've always been a people pleaser but that is a tall order! It takes a lot of work. Yes, you may have a more flexible schedule in the off season, but you're on 24/7 for 9 weeks! After working 9 weeks at summer camp, believe me, romance is the last things on my mind.
2. You don't always have to love it all to have a great experience
This seems pretty obvious, right? Think about motherhood...it's not always hugs and kisses. Sometimes it flat out stinks (figuratively and literally). There are dirty diapers and dirty dishes, tears and tantrums, accidents and mistakes; nonetheless, I would not trade it for all the money in the world. Why? Because the pay off is so great! The sweet moments are so wonderful, that they drown out the sour. This is 100% true of camp.
So, what makes camp worth it?...staying out late to sing campfire songs and catch a glimpse of a shooting star, girls that hang on to an embrace up until the very last moment because they can't stand the thought of being a part from their best friend for a whole entire year, earning a well deserved rank in an activity after working years to earn it. Totally sweet and well worth the sour!
3. Girls just want to be noticed, loved, and accepted
One of my favorite moments at camp was just a couple days ago when Randy was helping my aides move their heavy trunks out of their cabin to prepare for departure. The girls (ages 15-17) sat on the edge of their beds and wanted to chat. They started asking questions. They wanted to know how we met and about our family. They begged us to stay and tell more stories. Some of them expressed how they wished their parents would pay more attention. They said that they may not always act like they want it, but they do love the attention. Eureka! I guess I had always heard that but hearing it strait for a gaggle of teenagers really hit home for me. What a great reminder.
4. Little things go a long way
The first week of camp I told the counselors that small and simple things can go a long way. It's so true! From the very start of camp I started leaving simple notes and treats on the pillows of my campers. You would have thought they had been given access to the internet! They absolutely loved it. They thanked me more than enough and before too long they were leaving notes and treats for me! My favorite was a bag of Sour Patch KIds with a hand written note saying, "We're so glad we're your... (Sour patch Kids). Isn't that cute!?! Better yet, the girls were rarely late for curfew, never neglected their assignments, and always treated me and each other with kindness. Now, I'm not saying all of that happened because of a bag of chips ("Thanks for chipping in around camp!") but it certainly didn't hurt. Small and simples goes a long way.
We are headed home now. It's a 14 hour car ride. The first hour I was just quiet. I would blurt out an idea, jot it down and then get tired and have to rest. I need a couple weeks to let it all process, that's for sure. But one thing I do know-we can do this! Sure, it'll be a lot of work; it won't be the vacation that some may think but we can do it. By small and simple ways we can create a environment of love and safety; one of acceptance and adventure. A special place that girls can look forward to with a yearning that nowhere else can satisfy.
And I survived my summer adventure!
Entrance into Banquet
End of summer Banquet was a grand event!