Recently, I scouted a wilderness camp for a retreat and, as we toured the grounds, my friend began laughing at me. Why? Because I was sporting a ridiculous grin – rather than listening to the guide, I was taking a trip down summer camp memory lane.
What’s so special about camp? Many of my childhood summers were spent at camps –either running around like a heathen while my father taught sailing camps, or savoring my independence as a teenage counselor. For me, camp equals freedom, friends and nature. It is wild and unruly, rustic and peaceful, full of bullhorns and shrieks, whispered conversations across bunks, canoes on quiet lakes, and communal experiences. It is magic.
Sadly, we cannot live at camp year-round. But we can recreate the magic. Here’s 6 ways:
1. Take it outside.
Note I wrote “take it” not “go” outside. I’m all about nature,but this is how to create camp wherever you are. What are you doing right now? Surfing the computer? Take it outside. On a conference call? Take it outside. Hanging with friends? You know what to do… take it outside. At camp, if you’re not sleeping or eating, you are usually outside. Fresh air makes everything better.
2. Take an archery lesson!
No self-respecting camp is without activities! Given the popularity of Hunger Games, maybe you want pick up a bow and arrow? If that’s not your bag, how about kayaking?Photography? Horseback riding? Visit to the art hut? Or how about a very camp-style group activity like Tough Mudder? At camp, nobody cares if you’re good — it’s all about having fun.
3. Mail call!
Mail was always distributed during the loud communal dinner, like roll call. Every night, the anticipation would kill me as I hoped I’d get called up. Send yourself or a friend some love by signing up for a “care package”service like Birchbox or a fun art-by-mail subscription like Papirmass. At camp, the special kids always got mail.
4. Campfire sing-a-long.
A good day at camp always wraps up with a sing-along by the campfire. The clear urban alternative is karaoke, we especially like Rock Box in Seattle. Singing not your thing? You can still hang by a fire (or your stove) and make some delicious s’mores. At camp, everything is better with off-key singing, fire and marshmallows.
5. Have a slumber party.
I’m not talking about the party that accidentally happens after a night out on the town, this is an on-purpose party with friends. While you probably don’t have bunks, it is not difficult to recreate the intimacy of hanging out all night sharing secrets, until you fall asleep mid-sentence. Flashlights, ghost stories, candy contraband and practical jokes are all bonuses.
6. Flirt with the lifeguard…
No, don’t run to the nearest YMCA and bat your eyes at the teenage lifeguard. I am advocating wanton friendliness. Other than the mean girls in the bunk next door, camp is about making connections. So bust out that smile for a stranger, say hello to XYZ, take an interest in your grocery checker’s day. Because at camp, everyone’s friends.
Bundle a few of the above together, add in a family-style meal or two like a kickass brunch, and you have the makings of an epic summer camp weekend! Or if you can’t be bothered, you could always attend one of our upcoming events.
And, if you grew up in the 70’s like me and need to get into the mood, I suggest kicking off your personal summer camp with this song from the classic camp film, Meatballs. Are you ready for the summer?