It's October. The leaves are changing, fall is definitely here, Halloween is approaching... and if you worked on summer staff this year you might be going through a little bit of camp withdrawal. My friend Loretta and I observed a general pattern for summer staff emotions throughout the year, and over our 10ish summers working at Pecometh we were able to hone our theory. At Julia Menei's request, I am sharing with you all. After all, recognizing the problem is the first step.
August. It's staff dinner. Everyone is clean and dressed like real people. Emotions are running high, memories are being shared, and food is being served that isn't in nugget form. There are at least a couple people who will burst into tears throughout the night, and even the people who had a rough summer and just want to go home to a real bed start to think "Aw... I do love camp!" as we join arms to sing Friends. Then our beloved community is ripped asunder and we are all shoved back into the "real world." We keep in touch with our camp friends, but then things get busy as everyone settles back into what veteran staffers call "the other 9 months."
October. Then one day you wake up in October and realize it's been two months since camp ended. And it seems like so much longer than two months, except that it also seems like you were just there. Maybe a camp photo comes up on your screensaver, or you find a warm fuzzy from someone. Maybe something makes you think "I just lost the game" (see what I did there... yeah, some of you are mad at me now), or you think of one of the running jokes of the summer that just doesn't translate for your normal-life friends. You start feeling... homesick. For Pecometh. Thanks to Facebook I get to see the "Hey it's been a few weeks since we talked but I miss you and I can't wait to see you" messages between camp friends, and it warms my heart. We've been apart just long enough that the constant need to be together has faded but we just really start missing each other.
December. As the Camp Staff Christmas Gathering draws closer, and invitations to return to camp staff go out, even the people who SWORE they weren't coming back to camp start to feel their resolve weakening. Maybe getting a job can wait until September... Maybe Camp wasn't quite as exhausting as we thought at the time... Maybe I'm not too old to work at camp yet... Those staffers (and campers) who knew all along that they were coming back realize that camp is still 6 months away and they don't know how they'll stand it!
February. Is there a worse month than February? Even though it's a short month it feels long. It's cold and dreary, and unless you are really into Valentine's Day the most exciting thing that happens is Ash Wednesday (or ok maybe Mardi Gras). And it's still 4 months until Camp starts.
Spring. One day it's warm enough out that your car gets really hot inside and when you get in it feels like summer. You sit there a few extra seconds and imagine it's time for Camp. Or is that just me? As the weather turns warm and nature turns green again, we start getting excited about Camp starting soonish. Expect to see another outbreak of "Hey, how's it going" messages between camp friends, and at least one of your camp friends will go through and like/comment on everyone's pictures from last summer.
June. If you're coming back to Camp you're basically a crazy person at this point, because you're excited. Or alternatively you might be really busy and don't have time to get excited about Camp, but then when you are reunited with Camp people you'll realize you ARE really excited about Camp. Lots of screaming and (borderline inapprop) hugging and even some crying ensues when everyone returns for Staff Training Week. This probably weirds out some of the new staff.
For the rest of your life, even decades after you worked at camp, you'll get a little twinge of homesickness during June and wish you could go back. I know this is true, because every June I get messages from my friends who worked here years ago. They tell me how they miss Pecometh and wish they could come back for the summer (or maybe just to visit). Those messages always remind me that we are involved in something really special here at Pecometh. It's always "deep down in our hearts."
And a bonus, just to make you cry.....
The 2013 Camp Staff Christmas Gathering has been scheduled! Mark your calendars for December 20.
Physical Address: 401 Jack Elliot Way, Centreville, MD 21617 * 410-556-6900