Written by Scott
May signifies that summer is just around the corner, and with it, May brings events that we all look forward to. May is National Barbecue and Hamburger Month, and it is also National Blood Pressure Month, which makes sense after eating Barbecue and Hamburgers all month. May also includes many special days such as Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, and everyone’s favorite No Dirty Dishes Day. But, for me, I know it’s May because everyone starts asking one simple question, “What are you doing over the summer.” This is a simple question with an even simpler answer, it is an answer I have now given for 27 straight Mays, “camp.” It is the inevitable follow up to this question, “why?” which is not so easy to answer.
As a child it was easier for to people to understand why you would go to camp for the summer. When I started at the age of 7, most people would just say “that’s nice” and secretly judge my parents for sending me away for eight weeks. As I got older, people still understood for the most part, and just figured camp was something you grew out of when you went off to college. When college rolled around there were more blank stares when I told my friends about my summer plans, with the occasional “oh, okay”. Now as an adult I just hear “why?” as they look at me waiting for a response that will make them understand.
For a long time I would just say things like “it’s what I have always done” or “you just have to be there to understand”, but the real answer would take too long to explain. “Why do I go back?” simple, each morning about 100 polar bears wake up 20 minutes early to jump into a freezing cold lake and then quickly get out. I see five Broadway caliber shows each summer, maybe they’re closer to off Broadway, but there is a stage and costumes so it’s close enough. I get to watch people interact with each other all summer long without the use of phones or computers, eye contact and everything. Have you ever seen a group of teenage boys playing the world’s most intense game of European Handball with Rick Astley’s 1987 classic “Never Gonna Give You Up” blasting in the background, it’s glorious. Do you know who Ed Stubbs is? No? That’s too bad. Becoming a three time Square Dance champion with Lou and Sue, while Roxy sleeps under the table. Trying to eat dinner but can’t because pots are being banged, and napkins are being shaken. Spending your summer on top of a mountain watching the most beautiful sunsets over the lake. Seeing your campers grow up and return as staff, and be able to work alongside them. Watching traditions as a camper, like candlelight interfaith services and then participating in them as a counselor. But, the main reason that I keep going back is that after 27 summers I still get that excitement I felt when I was seven. Each summer is filled with new people, new experiences, and new memories, but most importantly the sense of family, which has only gotten stronger each and every summer.
I guess this would probably be confusing for someone who has not had the “Starlight Experience” to understand. So, for the time being, I will probably continue to give my stock answers to their question of “why?”. But, I think there is a more important question that needs to be asked to these “why” people, “Why aren’t you going to camp this summer?”