Many of our first time campers wake up around this time and think, “wait a second – I’m really going to camp!” This thought is normally accompanied by two seemingly opposite feelings – pure excitement and a lots of butterflies in the stomach. Both are completely natural, normal, and, to be honest, I’d be surprised if our newest campers didn’t feel the butterflies!
I had very similar feelings while preparing for my first summer as a camp director 15 years ago. I woke up one month before the kids arrived and thought, “Oh my gosh – what have I gotten myself into?” I knew I was excited about running camp since preparing for camp didn’t really feel like ‘work.’ Plus, I found myself smiling everytime I thought about the kids enjoying camp.
But, I was also nervous. I had never run a camp before and, seeing as this was an all girls camp and I had only one brother (and three sons on the way in the near future), I was more than a little concerned about my lack of knowledge concerning girls. Sure, my bride and co-director, Kate, is brilliant and would make sure I knew everything I needed. Still… the butterflies in my stomack felt large enough to get me airborne.
Luckily, I had spent several years working within the field of sports psychology and competing in golf tournaments and matches. I had come to realize those butterflies I was feeling before camp was just my body saying ‘Ok, you are getting ready to do something pretty amazing and unknown. Let’s get ready.”
There was a lot I did not know 15 years ago about running a summer camp. Thankfully, we had an amazing staff and our kids had a blast. (And, yes, I still feel like I’m learning!)
Of all the topics our first time campers think about, I find there are a consistent top four:
- “I don’t know anyone at camp. Will the kids be nice and want to be friends?“
- “What will my counselors be like?”
- “How will I know where to go?”
- “I’m going to miss my parents!”
As for answers, here’s what I think:
Yes, it’s a little daunting coming to a new place and not knowing anyone. WAY TO GO! That courage is the first step in expanding your world in all the right ways. Our campers and staff are super friendly and only want to make new friends. Most of our kids don’t know anyone when they first get to camp. It’ll take you about 15 seconds to make a new friend if you are open to it and about 30 seconds if you are not as open. Because…
Our staff members are amazing. The come to camp because they want to help our campers have an amazing experience and live whole our values of Gratitude, Attitude and Courage. You’ll hear a few interesting dialects as about 1/3rd of our staff come from places like England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia, New Zealand and Mexico.
As soon as you arrive, you are going to meet your bunk counselors, go through a quick checkin and get some lunch. Then, you are off to the bunk and then you start running around camp with your bunkmates and counselors. It’s a 2 minute walk from the flagpole (the center of camp) to the beach or a 1.5 minute walk to the driving range. That’s the whole camp – it’s super easy to get around.
Finally: missing home: You will and THAT’S OK! I’ve visited almost everyone of our new campers families in their homes and I totally understand missing them. (To be honest, I miss my kitchen and bed at home from time to time during the summer, too!) The good news is you’ll be having so much fun that, given a bit of time, you’ll be so overcome with camp joy that it will drown out those missing home moments.
So, for our new campers, deep breath – it’s going to be an amazing summer and we can’t wait to get you to camp! See you soon!