The transition from camp to home can, for some, be significantly more difficult than the transition from home to camp. You become so used to living in a carefree environment that is separate from the default world, that the process of changing back is difficult. Whether it’s your camper’s first or last year, there’s no avoiding camp-sickness. Remember, camp-sickness is a feeling that everyone experiences, but no one should have to go through it alone.
Let’s Call It Default, Not Real
Often times we refer to the world outside of camp as "the real world.” That’s pretty harsh. Camp is SUPER real. Sure, it comes with the benefit of not having to do homework, working on your play every day without the pressure of math, being with your friends around the clock and not having to go home for dinner. But camp includes a lot of the things parents and friends think we have somehow escaped from when we are there.
Stress is still present at camp. There is the show or build in the shop, with deadlines and nerves. There is the stress of friendships that in default may benefit from a little space but at camp are put under pressure from the same joy-giving 24/7 attention we just raved about in the previous paragraph.
Our emotions are very present at camp. We don’t escape sadness or anxiety or anger there. Happiness may be slightly intensified at camp, but with the ups come the downs and they don’t wait outside our gates.
At camp, we allow for all feelings and emotions and stresses. We make room for them and work slowly to find ways to allow them to not govern our actions or lives at camp. That makes camp special. In default, so often, we are told to move past things quickly or ignore them completely. But that doesn’t make camp less real, simply not our default.
So the challenge to campers and families is this: How do we carry the new default, the one of the past three or six weeks, into the rest of our lives. How do we make space for the “real” without falling back on old habits that make us crave the safety of Acting Manitou? We love that camp is a special place, it will always be, but we don’t ever want our community to feel that camp is the ONLY place the Joy, Creativity, Gratitude and Community exist. Camp is simply the place in which we intensify those practices so that we can use them more easily in default.