Camp is the time in each year when I get to feel the most like a part of a group of people that I am happy to call my own. It’s also one of the few places I have found where a large group of people gathers and generally tries to do right by each other. That is no small thing and it is what brought me back every year as a camper and it is a large part of what compels me to set aside time each year to be here now as a staffer.
But getting to that place of connection where I can feel like a valuable part of the group isn’t always easy. Even after having had 10 first days of camp (as camper, alumnus, or staff), my eleventh first day held some intense and uncomfortable feelings for me. Like a hard to shake feeling that everyone else belonged here but not me and insecurities about my life compares to other staffers’ among other feelings. Luckily it was interspersed with brief moments of ease and connection that previewed the good things I know from experience I am sure to feel more of the time a little further into the session.
I am writing this from the second day of orientation, and I can already say that things are looking a lot better from here. The things that helped me get through day one and to get on my way to really arriving at camp included:
- A few of my fellow staffers spontaneously sharing kind words with me.
- Doing the staff conversational icebreaker (“speed dating”) and getting to (re)connect briefly one on one with each staffer.
- Reaching out to someone to talk about my feeling of not belonging even though asking was hard.
- Getting some alone time by the stream.
- Listening to other peoples’ check ins to hear what is going on for them.
- Talking one on one with people.
- Climbing a tree.
- Eating well.
- Going to bed early and getting a pretty good sleep.
- Being patient with myself and remembering that feelings always change.