I'm bipolar. I blog about it. I also blog about sex, theology and atheology, funny shit and sad shit, books, music, feminism, and love. Mostly love.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Bring us Your Kids: I Believe in Summer Camp

I've had camp on the mind lately. I'm so pumped for the summer. I realized last night as I was falling asleep that I have a whole life to live before I can get sick on those familiar winding roads. I'll have finished the other half of this semester. I'll have sung in my concert and danced in the showcase. I'll have been to Paris and Berlin and back. I pictured myself doing all these things and I felt very alone. At ACA Midstates Conference I heard the term "nature deficit disorder" for the first time. I need to slow down. This is traditionally a really hard time of year for me. As some of you will recall, this time last year this blog was formed. I left behind Tbird's Train with all it's secrecy and darkness because I wanted a fresh start. I think thus far I've done significantly better. But this long winter weighs heavy on my soul. So many good things can happen to me before the summer comes, bringing the energy and community of Waycross with it. But I only see these days as an obstacle. Am I excited for the other things? Of course. I cannot wait to see Berlin again and to visit Paris for the first time. I love performing, and I'm excited for my shows. But... my heart is in a hammock strung between two trees outside a little red cabin. So, what can I do about it? I'm just going to have to tie the two together--camp and life.

When I come back from camp, I try to organize my life to look just like camp. Partly I'm holding on with desperate, sweaty fingers to the life I'm leaving behind, but partly I recognize the logic in a camp lifestyle. My bipolar mind requires structure. I need time for excitement and time for reflection. I need time for bonding and time for introspection. I need to get in touch with nature, and to turn off anything that requires a battery for just a while. I need breath. Simple. In. Out. When I come home from camp, I make myself a schedule as detailed, but not as dynamic and colorful as the ones I make for my campers. I hang my whistle by my door on a hook. I see it every time I enter or exit my room. It serves as a reminder. I am accepted--respected somewhere. And I'll be back soon. I want to recreate camp at school. Of course that isn't possible. Camp is a safe place. Someone got raped in the parking lot I always end up stuck in at 2:00 am on a Thursday night. Right? Camp is its own world. But at that conference I had another thought. Camp isn't a vacation. Camp isn't some trip you go on to get away from everything. In essence, you do, but not in the way we traditionally picture vacation. Camp strips away all the shit of everyday life to really give you the freedom to dig deep. Sure, it's fun. But who says self-discovery can't be fun? And if you dig really, really deep you may pull something to the surface. Maybe that something you find can change you on such a basic level, that when you leave that sacred place, you keep that thing--whatever it is.

We do a really incredible thing at camp. We give kids an opportunity unique to a camp setting in which to find themselves. Kids don't go outside anymore. They're far too entertained by what's inside. They're so overstimulated that they have learned to easily escape themselves. We let them push those things they hate within themselves to the very, very back of their minds. I say bring that shit up. Because there is nothing within a child that can make them unlovable. It's our job to show them that.  We teach kids to love themselves. I hate when people say, "how can other people love you if you don't love yourself?" Well. Fuck you, too. Not everyone has their shit together. Most of us don't. But everyone is worthy of love and compassion. That kid that is struggling the most--they're the one that needs love. For some people it just works the other way around. A kid needs to be loved before they know it's okay to love themselves. I will love the shit out of those kids

I will love the shit out of you.

Anyway. Here comes that wrap-up you've grown to know and love: Camp is a big fucking deal to me. And it should be to you too. Sending your kids to camp shouldn't be a matter of "if," but of "how." In an age of immediate satisfaction, depravity of nature, and real anxiety in children, one week of play, of meditation, and of unconditional love is golden and unseen. Bring us your kids. Because I believe that we can make a difference. I've seen it within myself. I've seen it within my campers. I believe in summer camp.