Have you ever put your heart and soul into something you love to do, and at the end felt spent? That’s where I’m at currently, emotionally and physically drained, but happy as a clam and incredibly content. It’s the best kind of tired I know of. Here’s a sampling of maybe the best summer I’ve ever experienced.
I ran three one-week camps for girls, in addition to two four-day father-daughter retreats in Colorado. So I got to meet and play with about 170 girls, mostly middle and high school aged kids. That all by itself for me ensures a ton of fun, but let me dig deeper into the details of what my adventures entailed.
I memorized the names of 170 girls, made approximately 100 friendship bracelets, received about 30 bracelets from campers, made about 25 hair wraps, put in around 40 hair feathers, ate too many to count s’mores, got dunked and woman-handled playing keep away in the lake and pool enough times to warrant ibuprofen, braided the hair on about 10 girls, danced for hours under the stars, memorized the words to the song Shut Up and Dance With Me after hearing it so many times, ate breakfast, lunch and dinner outdoors every meal, listened to hundreds of stories shared by brave girls, comforted dozens of campers who were feeling their emotions, spent many hours taking walks out in nature, did some serious star-gazing, floated in creeks, had lots of deep conversations sitting poolside on hot afternoons, became decorated with colors during three color runs, and watched movies outside under the stars.
And everyday, all day long, I laughed so hard I cried. I love the countless inside jokes generated at camp and the spontaneous moments of pure joy and laughter. There is just nothing like living in a close community at summer camp. Those are my best memories from each week, many of which are now in our camp folklore.
I was also privileged to watch so many courageous young women blossom right before our eyes. They allowed themselves to be real and vulnerable, shared personal stories and experiences, received feedback and advice from peers and our staff, reframed some negative self-talk, and made decisions about taking charge of their life and story. There is something incredible special about a diverse group of girls coming together to discuss topics that affect their everyday lives. Watching them help each other and form a loving, supportive community was inspiring. I am so proud of them.
Early morning staff meetings, long days outdoors in steamy weather, absorbing a myriad of emotions from the girls, late nights laughing and making bracelets and star-gazing all added up to a tired me. I’m really not complaining; I loved every minute of my summer and wouldn’t change it for the world.
But I’m left feeling sad and a little empty at the end, missing my camper friends and our incredible staff whom I’ve known for years. It usually takes me a couple weeks to get back into the swing of my regular life. I miss the slow pace of camp, being in nature all day, not having to drive, unplugging from technology, and being able to play with kids all day. I look forward to our 1st weekend camp in October, but today I am living in gratitude for the best summer ever.