I have returned from my overseas camp adventure that I may or may not have jumped into spontaneously because I get itchy about staying in a place too long and it just happened that that limit was fast approaching KC and I needed to run. I ran, or flew rather, to France to be a camp counselor and live in an extremely tight community setting. I mean tight as in relationships but also space. It was the experience of a lifetime. I learned more than I could have ever imagined from people I would have never been able to imagine up myself. I was immediately hooked and jealous of all the other places and camps my new friends were going to set off to after we finished with this camp. I’ve been home a month and though I’ve been able to throw in a few funny camp stories here and there, as with other travels no one really wants to hear about it. I need to talk about it because this experience provided me growth and recharging in a much needed way. I will never know if it was because of the people, the setting, the job, or the kids, but I am thankful for all the hectic days and long nights, all the laughs and frustrations, all the memories and moments. Thank you to everyone who was a part of this experience with me.
So camp life. Remember when I said space was tight? My first camp room had three single beds lining the walls, two wooden shelving units, a sink, and a shower. The three of us in there always made it work and it surprisingly never actually felt too cramped, probably because we were rarely in there for long periods of time except to sleep. We shared our toilet room (remember france does this thing where it’s just a toilet in a tiny room with a door. expect to feel claustrophobic and paranoid that everyone can hear everything) with 4 or 5 people depending on the week, but during meetings, which also happened in the building/cabin where are bedroom was, that things could attempt to support 7 people at a time. I say attempt because it took like 10+ minutes for the water tank to refill, so things got interesting at times. As hilarious and frustrating as this all was at times, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. There was never a dull moment. I spent almost every night chatting and every weekend playing ping pong and card games. I was surprisingly social (as I sit alone in my new bedroom writing this) and I loved it. Being around people helped me to put down my phone and live. I didn’t have time to overthink things as I so often do. I think this is why it was such an important experience for me, it was a detox almost of the internet and social media and a good distraction from everything that was/is happening politically. By no means am I saying that I completely stopped, but as my coworkers can vouch, I lose my phone a lot and it was to a point where I could just not care that I was too busy to scroll and I’d rather sing baby shark annoyingly ha!
The days are long and draining. It takes your whole self. But I never once regretted it or thought “hey maybe let’s not try our best today”. Every time a kid smiled up at me or laughed it made every ounce of effort worth it. And honestly it was fun. There were days I got tired and grumpy at night meetings, but really it wasn’t bad. More often then not I stayed up past our meetings by choice to hang out with my fellow counselors. There is not really enough time to think about much else besides camp, which is either a good thing as it was for me or a bad thing if you have a different perspective. Life morphs into a weird camp bubble and you relive jokes of the camps and hear stories all day and nothing else in the world exists with the same intensity at the time. I thought it was hilariously fun. We would take family trips and scream camp cheers walking along a river or inside Roman ruins. This separate world intensifies bonds and I was lucky to be with awesome people who I honestly enjoyed spending all my time with, because there really wasn’t an option to be alone for long ha!
I encourage anyone who think they might like teaching and laughing with kids in a fun setting to jump into it! The pay is not great, but you are eating good food prepared by french chefs and don’t have to pay rent! Also you laugh and smile all day. I genuinely have never gone that long with continuously being in such a good mood. I might have gotten sick a lot, but man the days were fun! Know that teamwork is a HUGE part of the job and if one person is slacking it makes things that much more difficult for the rest of the team. The whole point is to have fun, so if you aren’t one to throw yourself into silly situations and be up to do a stupid dance or get a water balloon popped over your head, then this maybe isn’t the job for you. But I never was that person before camp, so if you are up for growing and trying new things, give it a whirl. Who knows how it will change your life!
(I might add more to this later)
❤ with all my love.