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I Survived My First Summer Not at Camp

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Tips for how to stay sane when life leaves you campless

I Survived My First Summer Not at Camp photo 1x

My first summer at camp in 1999

There are few, if any, things that I adore more than summer camp. If you have read any of my previous posts, you know this as I am pretty confident that I mention it in at least 95 percent of my pieces. This summer, I had to deal with the (almost) always inevitable summer that any camp-obsessed person dreads more than the summer ending---the first summer spent not at overnight camp.

Most of my friends said their goodbyes to the days of making friendship bracelets, lunches filled with crazy dress up and singing in the dining hall, and those cliché yet perfect nights under the starry sky sometime between our high school years and the summer that they "needed" to get their first internship (you know, in order to be successful and have a career and all that jazz). However, I stuck it out for the long haul: eight years as a camper and six years on staff.

Unfortunately, one aspect of initiating yourself into the real world and the work force is the absence of a summer break. Unless you are really smart and decided to be a teacher or another profession that gives you summer break, being a working person means summer now lacks something that has always been there for me in the past: two or more months spent in a euphoric bubble separate from the real world.

I Survived My First Summer Not at Camp photo 2

Starting pretty much the day that summer 2012 ended, I really thought that the majority of the following summer would be spent in hysterics. Dramatic? Most definitely. True? Shockingly not as much as I anticipated. This summer had its high points and low points. Chicago in the summer is wonderful (as I had heard), but there were of course times when I missed my summer home. Organizing spreadsheets and expense reports does not compare to planning programs for campers. Eating some sort of lame makeshift salad at my desk doesn't even come close to eating camp’s famous grilled cheese and tomato soup in the dining hall. And even worse, when it rains in the real world, there is no rainy day schedule.

There were many FOMO (fear of missing out) moments, but in the end, I made it. Here are my tips for all camp-obsessed individuals on how to survive your first summer in the real world (or at least how I managed to do it):

Change into casual clothes the second you get home from work
Is one of the many highlights of the season of summer being able to live in Nike shorts/leggings and white v-neck t-shirts? Of course. So, the second you get home from your place of work, change into casual attire. Thank me later.

Go to as many concerts and cool events as possible
This is helpful because then you can think to yourself “but if I was at camp, how would I be able to see [insert band/artist that you have seen multiple times, but you continue to use as justification to why your summer is “still unreal”].” It kind of, sort of, mostly works, sometimes. At least it did for the "Legends of Summer Tour".

I had my first summer weekend in NYC and fit in a road trip to Cape Cod. Try to take solace in seeing new places during the summertime.

Immediately exit any location that deems it appropriate to play camp songs on repeat
If you are as lucky as I am, your place of work will somehow, seemingly have every camp song on loop playing in your communal space every day. I swear if I had a dollar for every time I went to go to grab a yogurt and heard “Wonderwall” fading into “Drift Away” it would constitute as a pretty generous summer bonus.

Make sure to watch your favorite camp movies often
It is hard to not feel infinitely better as Beth does roll call for “David…Ben Gurion?” at Camp Firewood or as Lars congratulates Mr. Simms for being the fattest kid in camp. This truly always makes me smile.

Visit camp
Visiting three times in the span of 10 weeks may have been excessive, but I'm over it. With all this being said, I hope that this summer ritual doesn't become a trend, but if it does, I guess it's time to channel Destiny's Child and "keep on surviving".

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