Part 1: Man, do I miss being a counselor at summer camp!
Officially, this afternoon kicked off my first 'summer vacation' as a back-in-the-classroom teacher. I'm beside myself with giddy what-do-I-do-now thoughts. I've got a several dates set up with my hammock. I'm gonna take my kid to the zoo as often as I can. My wife, my kid, and I are traveling a lot (Santa Fe, Taos, Chicago, Maine, Charleston). Books of all types and formats are ready to be dog-eared. And I get to really daydream about how to help my students be brilliant come the fall now that I have a bit of time at my school under my belt.
My only unanswered wish as I prepare to live in flip flops for the next 2+ months?
"10-4-2" (or, in camp-speak, the "I'd do anything for 10 months this year just to be back at summer camp for 2 months!" mindset that takes over my soul this time of year like a freight train of nostalgia).
If you could have peered into the hidden chambers of my soul on the day I made the decision to leave my previous position as CEO of DesignShare.com last year so that I could return to teaching, you'd have found a single piece of notebook paper folded up into a classic origami flip-game explaining the 'real' reason.
In a phrase: I wanna go back to summer camp. Bad. Real bad.
Memory Lane Diversion #1 (aka music playing on my laptop right now):
CD Includes: Classics such as "Father Abraham" and "Peanut Butter & Jelly", and so many others I had never heard of but love because of what they remind me of. Videos below show the 'making of the CD'.
Memory Lane Diversion #2 (aka the book I just purchased spontaneously at Barnes-n-Noble tonight):
Camp Camp (Where Fantasy Island Meets Lord of the Flies), a book described as a "love letter to camp".
A quirky love letter at that, especially if you've ever longed for a return Color War secrets to break and to once again write your name on the inside wall of a wooden bunk.
Part #2: Big Picture
Sure, it made great sense on a family level to re-align my career with my wife (a middle school principal and history teacher) and to see my son more often (rather than constantly flying to conferences and client meetings as a consultant/school planner). It also meant I could be back in the classroom working with real kids (not just speaking about them in the distant third person). After all, I had a ball being a full-time school planner and consultant working around the US/world, but at heart "I'm a teacher". Period.
Oh, and one more thing.
The career change also meant that one day I'll get to be a camp counselor again. Even better, I'll get to work at the same all-summer sleep-away camp that my own son (and any kiddos that follow in the coming years) goes to one day, too.
Part 3: Walking the same tree-lined path with my kiddo one day
He's nearly 21 months old (on Thurs).
Hardly hold enough to live in a bunk with other kids singing "Father Abraham had seven sons, seven sons had Faaaaaaather Abraham..." verses, freaking out at "Cropsie" headless counselor ghost stories, sneaking first kisses under a pine tree outside the camp canteen, and covering his face in colorful paint as Color War breaks.
That being said, I figure that if I'm on staff -- at the camp I was fortunate enough to be a Group Leader for over a 3-summer span in the mid-90's or at some other camp that we discover in the years to come -- Beckett might be able to drag his duffel bag into a bunk that he'll call home for 8+ weeks in as short as 4 years.
Not such a long span of time given the lifetime of memories and friendships that will be come his way as a result.
Part 4: Thinking of 'my boys'
In the mid-90's, these were 'my boys'. More accurately, they were the boys camp division I led -- known as the "Freshman" (aka the youngest on camp at the time).
In the photo, taken several years later as they entered high school, they were on the cusp of becoming counselors themselves. They are in their early 20's now and I've lost touch with them, sadly. I had them when they were 6, 7, and 8 as camp life began for them. They're now looking at college graduation and careers and all that comes with that. I had them when they were scared of the dark, wore the same underwear for 5 straight days, dealt with real-time homesickness, and only ate hidden bunk candy unless you forced them to try something else at mealtime.
I wish my Beckett could have lived in a bunk beside any/all of them way back then. I wish any/all of them could be his counselor one summer-to-be-named-later. I wish that he'd be just like them. I wish they could call him one of their own.
Part 5: Putting it all together
And I wish that one day he'll be like me, looking at a photo of 'his boys' from years before, counting down the days until he can take his own son(s)/daughter(s) to camp as well.