Going to work at a Summer Camp in rural back-end-of-nowhere USA is possibly one of the best ways to spend the summer months. I personally start counting down the days until I return to camp as soon as I pull out of the gates at the end of the season.
As much as we love to talk about our time at camp, there are a few things that counsellors will keep to themselves. Some stuff that is completely acceptable in the camp world doesn't exactly fly in the real world...
Here are 10 things that camp counsellors don't tell you about their summer:
1) We Struggle To Adjust To Rustic Life
As much as we love camp, there is something surreal about moving to the middle of the woods for an extended period of time. Going from having our phones practically an extension of our arm to having no signal anywhere is definitely a culture shock! And that's before we get started on the wildlife!! Camp provides a great opportunity to get up close and personal with mother nature but it does take a bit of getting used to. The first time I heard a loon in the middle of the night I became convinced I was going to be eaten in my sleep by a coyote until someone explained what a loon was to me (seriously, google it, it's creepy). A friend of mine found himself becoming BFFs with a chipmunk who liked to crawl over his face to wake him up in the morning.
2) Showering Is A Luxury
Showering and other personal hygiene rituals tend to take a bit of a back seat at camp. It's not as gross as it sounds! Doesn't it sound great to be in a place where literally nobody cares what you look like or how long it took you to do your hair? Make up hardly exists at camp (unless the campers decide to give you a makeover) and rolling out of bed, throwing on shorts and a tshirt and heading to breakfast is totally acceptable behaviour.
The truth is, you are so busy at camp that there is very limited time available to actually shower and besides, jumping in the lake on a daily basis is the same thing....right?
3) Beware Of Camp Goggles
Camp goggles are like an ultra magnified version of beer goggles. Seeing the same people constantly for weeks at a time with very limited exposure to the "real" world can really mess with a counsellors head. People who wouldn't normally be your type suddenly seem extremely appealing and you only come to your senses after leaving the bubble of camp and entering the extremely cold shower that is reality
4) We Need More Sleep. ALWAYS.
We may feel young and invincible and refuse to believe that we actually get tired. But right around the end of the second week into camp and it's like hitting a brick wall. We are more tired than we ever thought possible and we would do anything for just 5 more minutes. We may have turned down a night or two at the bar in exchange for an early night. And we don't regret it. Not ever.
5) Camp Incest Happens...
There is no such thing as a secret at camp. People ALWAYS hook up and they ALWAYS get found out. Flings at camp are different to the real world, a week at camp seems like a month and luckily for most people they are old news after just a few hours. The mornings after days off are constantly fuelled with the rumours of who hooked up with who and where. And there will always be that one group who disappeared for 3 hours one night and nobody really knows what went on...
6) Skinny Dipping Is Also A Thing
There is something strangely liberating about jumping into a lake butt naked in the middle of the night with your new BFFs. In fact, at some camps, skinny dipping is a rite of passage and if your favourite co-workers find out you are a skinny dipping virgin, there is a very good chance they will try and strip you down and throw you in. Don't forget these antics should take place FAR away from prying camper eyes!
.7) We Get Homesick Too
Even though we are having the best summer of our entire lives, we sometimes crave a Sunday afternoon cuddled up on the sofa with a Sunday Roast, a good cuppa and some real Cadbury's chocolate (none of this Hershey's rubbish!). It doesn't happen often and it is usually nothing a quick phone call home can't fix but we do occassionally miss the familiarity of home.
8) We Don't Always Want To Talk To You
Just because we get homesick, doesn't mean we always want to speak to people back home. We may or may not have lied a few times about not having service to text even though we had the day off yesterday and spent the whole day trolling memes on the internet. It's nothing personal, it's not that we aren't missing you, it's just that we get so immersed in the bubble of camp that it can be hard for us to come out of that bubble. We don't get long in this awesome place with these awesome people and we are trying to make the most of it. But we promise to check in as often as we can.
9) There Is NOTHING Worse Than A Hangover At Camp
Let's face it, we have all been there at least once. We have drunk a little too much and stayed out a little too late forgetting that we will literally be in Hell on Earth the following morning. Staying out until 1am seemed like a great idea until the alarm goes off at 7am and we have to function like adults responsible for several VERY loud children and act like nothing is wrong. We also score bonus points if we work on waterfront and have to spend the day in the scorching sun on a swaying dock with no escape.
10) We Become Obsessed
My camp has a saying: From the inside looking out you can't explain it, from the outside looking in, you can't understand it. It is so true. We become incredibly attached to our summer home and the friends we have made that feel like family. We do take it personally when people try and tell us it isn't a real job or that they think it's a dumb idea. You don't get it. Back home everything seems a little more grey and quiet compared to the screaming colour we have spent 9 weeks exposed to. Obviously we are far too grown up to get emotional on the last night *sniff* but the reality is, no matter how much we have complained, how much we have missed home, how exhausted we are, we aren't ready to leave yet. We cling onto those final moments of summer and we may even shed a few tears before the sun comes up, we pack our bags and walk out the gates like nothing happened. You can bet your ass we are already counting down the days until we return though.
Disclaimer: This blog post is a re-work of a piece I wrote for Buzzfeed Community. All thoughts and ideas are my own. The original article can be read here.