Camp Anxiety

When I was younger, I used to watch Bug Juice, a show about counselors and campers at an overnight camp, on The Disney Channel.  I’d watch that show with such longing.  Wishing I could attend a camp like that.  Unfortunately, even at a young age, I was a realist. I knew there were two big reasons:

1. Money. Camp was expensive, there was no way my parents could afford that.

2. Me.  No matter how exciting camp looked, I was so shy, that I would wind up back home before the first day ended.

My dream of camp slowly faded away.  Several years later, another opportunity arouse.  As part of a scholarship, I needed to participate in an internship-like program that centered around children.  So, over the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year in college I decided to apply at a YMCA over night camp a couple of hours away.  I jumped into the application process full of hope and excitement.  I was over the moon when I was hired.

The closer my start date came, my initial excitement began to dwindle and my anxiety began to increase.  I was going to be really far away, with a a group of peers I never met, and very little time to talk to my parents.  As we loaded the car that fateful day, and started our long journey, my stomach was in my throat and the tears hung in the corner of my eyes ready to fall at any second.  That car ride was both the quickest and longest drive ever.

When we pulled up, and unloaded my car, I cried.  I was 20 years old, and I cried because I was going to miss my parents like crazy, and I was terrified.  I was dragged away by friendly senior counselors and there was no turning back.  I’ll admit, the first few nights were ridiculously difficult, and I silently cried myself to sleep so the other girls couldn’t hear me.  Then on the the third night, we had a fire, and it was like my anxiety burned away.  That was the first night, of the best summer of my life….at least so far.

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3 thoughts on “Camp Anxiety

  1. I was so shy as well. Girl Scout Camp was my first time away from my family in junior high. I wasn’t as anxious as you because I did stay, but no one knew how terrified I was. We’ve got to watch out help our shy kids! Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Camp was a priority expense by my parents – who met at a camp and knew the power of the experience. I know I was lucky to go to camp as a kid and my dream of being a counselor came true as a junior in high school. I worked 8 summers like that, loved every minute. I wasn’t able to replicate the experience for my own kids, it is expensive. But they each got one summer of camp.

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