Why Do I Keep Going Back?
Updated: Jan 17, 2021
Many people year after year ask me the same question: why do I keep going back to summer camp?’ The answer to this changes year upon year, but the outcome is still the same. Camp has the power to lure you back, even when you think you are done.
The truth is, I have been trying to write this post for months. I am trying to pinpoint the exact reason why I keep returning, however there is not just one reason; there are many.
Everyone has that one place that holds your most special memories. You replay those memories over and over in your head. It could be a special holiday or special occasion. For me, it is Walden.
I am especially lucky that I have been able to return so often in my adult life. That one in a lifetime experience has turned into a loving, familiar place that is homey. Camp has given me endless memories. It is the location that I have created life long relationships and the environment where I most enjoy who I am.
My first summer at camp was all a whirlwind. You get swept up in the excitement, and the atmosphere is electric. You learn the little camp nuances and traditions, and become part of the community. You feel a sense of belonging regardless of your personality traits, which is something I have never felt anywhere else. Camp culture is infectious, and if you allow it, you can get caught up in the bubble of fun, laughter and excitement that no other workplace will bring.
After that first summer I thought like many: that was a great, fun experience but now let’s get a ‘real’ job. However, I was itching to get back! Camp is a special place, it is an environment that you feel comfortable in but also supported to take on a challenge - be it a new role, or added responsibility. It is a space where you can grow personally and develop new skills that can transfer outside of the camp bubble. Even after six summers, I am still doing this and love the thrill of the challenge.
When speaking to people that have done similar programs abroad, the main reason why people love their experience is because of the people they have met along the way. Diversity is one of the most amazing aspects of cultural exchange and being in a camp setting is no different.
Diversity can be something bigger than physical appearances, these can range from; an individual's upbringing to their beliefs, from their culture to their native language, and much much more. Camp is a place that I have found lifelong friends from all over the world, and without camp our lives would have never crossed paths. To me, that is pretty mind blowing!
Along with inviting people into a community, you are also bringing many personalities together into a small setting. Everyone’s personality is unique. They are like fingerprints, no two are the same. No matter who you are, camp is a place where everyone can feel like they belong. The freedom of no judgement, and not having to conform to something I am not is truly rare, especially in a work environment. I personally have never felt this sense of belonging in a workplace before. It makes me wonder, why aren't all workplaces inclusive?
I cannot say just one reason why I keep going back to camp, but I think Azar Nafisi best describes why with this quote.
‘You get a strange feeling when you’re about to leave a place. Like you’ll not only miss the people you love, but you’ll miss the person you are now at this time and this place.’