Last summer I shared with you all my love of camp.
See, I’d spent part of every summer since I finished my Master’s working as an activity specialist and camp director at a summer program for kids with social cognitive disabilities. For three weeks in the middle of every summer, I committed myself wholeheartedly to a camp program that I had helped build and perfect over four seasons. I trained and managed a staff of 25+ college-aged counselors, and kept track of 75+ campers and their individual strengths and areas of need.
I loved a whole lot of it. To be totally transparent, though, there were some dark times. We had to evacuate due to a wildfire once. Another time a group of campers became trapped on a mountain by a rattlesnake on the hiking trail. Some unfounded police involvement damn near traumatized me two summers ago. There were ambulance rides, staff conflicts, camper outbursts, and scheduling issues up the wazoo. But whenever I sent my campers home a little more flexible and a little more independent than the’d been 14 days before, I felt like it was all worth it.
When I left camp last year, I knew I wouldn’t be back. The first reason for this was that administrative changes were slowly transforming my job into one that I was no longer comfortable doing. The second (and bigger) reason was just that I knew it was time for me to take a break. In case you haven’t noticed… I do a lot of things for a lot of people. I teach, I tutor, I mentor, I support, I volunteer, I give back in every way that I can.
And sometimes when I look at all that good I’m doing, I feel something other than just the pride I expect to feel; instead, a little bit of me also feels sad. Sad because I am eternally sleep deprived. Sad because there are so, so many things I want to do for myself that I can’t fit into my insane schedule. Sad because I watch so many of my friends achieving their personal goals and I’ve been pushing off my own dreams so that I can do what I feel is best for others.
Helping others is my calling, I know it. And obviously I’m not going to stop being kind and generous forever. I’m just, like, taking an actual vacation for 8 weeks. I’m going to be traveling, and running, and reading, and being social. I’m going to paint my toenails and play board games and like, maybe drink wine on the front stoop. I’m going to the parties and happy hours I always have to skip because I need to be up early the next day, and I’m going to nap some afternoons JUST BECAUSE.
And hopefully come September, I’ll be good and recharged and ready to take on yet another year of working hard and being nice to people:)