Thursday at camp always feels like a huge turning point for me and for a lot of campers. It’s also one of the most exhausting days physically and mentally in good ways. Thursday is our adventure day, where we get many opportunities to leave the main campsite for a little bit and go hiking up to the supposedly haunted cabin up on the hill, take a dip in the swimming hole or join in on one of the many fun organized adventures within camp. Sleep wise camp is always a struggle for me, so instead of heading off and joining in on all the magical activities I decided to stand on the sidelines and observe, take in other people having the time of their life since my own body and mind needed rest. I sat and watched a huge game of prisoners base organized by one of our amazing staffers Margie, which is pretty much capture the flag and is a blast to take part in or enjoy the hilarity and friendly competition, a lot of campers get really into the game. So I sat and gigged along with everyone else either playing or viewing the mayhem unfolding.
I’ve been going to camp for five years now, ever since I was thirteen and every single year as much as I enjoy the workshops and events, a huge part of my camp experience is connecting and having one on one conversations with people. I guess my adventures that day weren’t so much going and doing and physical activity, more mental adventures, pushing myself to go to talks and sit with people I had been wanting to connect with but been shying away from. The environment at camp is one where some of the most eye opening and healing communication can happen within a few minutes. I was talking to a camper and realizing that, at NBTSC when someone asks you how you are doing you are allowed and feel safe enough to truly admit how you are feeling and what’s going on with you. There is no need to force a smile or pretend that you are feeling okay when you really aren’t. It cultivates such a loving and accepting environment, people will come up to you and check in constantly, the outside world there is such a lack of emotional honesty that is so encouraged at NBTSC.
I had about five different courageous conversations with a person that day who mean the world to me, and for me that was more of an adventure than hiking or jumping off a cliff side into freezing cold water.
Thursday is also seeing/seen circle, an evening event sort of like our bonding night that goes along with the wonderful supportive energy that flows through camp. Campers are given a chance to speak openly about a situation in their life or something that has happened that may be somewhat taboo or difficult to talk about, while doing so you are surrounded by campers ready to listen and comfort you when needed. Tears are shed and the emotional intensity can become a bit overwhelming for some campers, but over all I’ve always found it to be one of the most therapeutic experiences. Humans coming together to connect over vulnerabilities without judgment and during the emotional intensity, being surrounded by unconditional love and support. Hands were held and we all sat around being there in that moment of relief, getting something so heavy out in the open.
I had my emotional moments and found safe spaces with campers who were more than willing to hug, chat, and just be there during it all. It’s why I return year after year, to come to a place where emotions are not only validated by accepted by all. I headed off to sleep feeling lighter than I did before.