In the city, we might call it ‘Hump Day’ – that day of the week where no magical number of double espresso’s will help you feel like the day will ever end. As a kid, it’s those long Friday afternoons, when the hands on the classroom wall clock seem to move backwards en route to 3:30.
At camp, we call it the 5 week slump. Weeks of living outside, long days, late nights, and high energy activities wear you down. Like the ‘Wall’ marathon runners (or Brent and Back Trippers) describe, you never ACTUALLY know when its going to arrive, and it comes at different time for different people, but it does, inevitably, effect everyone. You get tired. You get that 1000 yard stare, made famous by Clint Eastwood and cowboy westerns. Every bench, step, log or reasonably level patch of grass calls to you to sit, relax, and let go.
But we push on. As camp staff, we’re passionate about what we do, and we know, that just because WE’RE tired, the show must go on. There’s trip to plan, races to run, games to organize, and innumerable needs that require our attention. Without us, it just won’t happen. So we press on. But how?
I hit my wall this week – and it was tough – but it struck me today, as I felt myself nearing its (also inevitable) end, that the thing that got me through it was the incredibly caring atmosphere we cultivate here at Plant Arowhon. Throughout the week, I was asked “How can I help?”. I was encouraged to take time to play – to get out of the office to connect with campers, to swim, to paddle, to laugh. Campers and staff alike looked out for me, and WANTED to help – which isn’t typically the reaction we get in an office in the city, or at school, or outside of camp.
And that’s something we, as a community, can be proud of.
The tipping point came this afternoon, in conversation with a junior boy I came across on the back road. It was raining – we had had thunderstorms pass over during rest hour – and he was strolling down the road during travel time before 4th period. He was wearing a bathing suit, carrying a towel, an extra pair of shoes, a raincoat, and a PFD. I asked him where he was headed, and he told me “I’ve just finished my thirds in canoe, and now I’m going to kayak!”
I asked “But aren’t you cold? It’s raining! Doesn’t that bother you?”
To which he replied “Now the best time to get my thirds in kayak! I’m already wet, so it won’t matter if I dump!”
His optimism, and mastery of adversity (also known as ‘silver sunshine’), reminded me of why I work at camp, and inspired me to push past my slump. If that junior boy can see the silver lining in being caught I the rain, and we can teach him to do so, then certainly, I can get over my slump, do the same for someone else.