People are always telling you that you need a good job. But what defines a good job? Most people would say how much money you make, but to me the best job is the job that makes you happy, the one that gives you the best experiences. One of my favorite quotes is: “If you find a job doing what you love, you will never work a day in your life.” I have had numerous jobs over the course of my life thus far. But not a single one of them has come close to my summer camp job.
I first learned about this particular camp when I was about 7 years old. It was the camp my father had gone to when he was a boy scout, and then worked at once he turned 14 or 15. I am the youngest of four children, my sister, the eldest of the four, is 7 years older than me. She began working at this camp when she turned 14. Each of my brothers did the same once they came of age. For 6 years at least one member of my family worked there.
Unlike my siblings, I did not begin working at 14, but instead procrastinated until I was 16. This coming summer will be my 5th consecutive year working there. As I said before, no job compares to this one. It is a giant piece of land in the middle-of-nowhere New Hampshire where 40 to 60 staff members go and spend about 7 weeks together. These people become your second family. Some of the truest friends and best people I have ever known I met through summer camp. It is an environment like no other. To outsiders I’m sure our antics and shenanigans look absurd, but to us, it’s all part of the job. A job that I wouldn’t trade for anything.
I almost did though, I almost gave up one of the biggest parts of my life for a guy. At the time he wasn’t just any guy, he was the person I thought I was going to spend the rest of my life with. But as you may have guessed, it just wasn’t meant to be. I had worked at camp for one summer before I met him, we began dating and I went to camp for the whole summer my second year there. But spending almost the whole summer apart was difficult, so I had decided to give it up and find a “real job”. That is, until I got offered my dream job there, teaching horseback riding. It was impossible for me to say no to that, so I agreed to work there part time. I found another job working as a hostess at a Buffalo Wild Wings.
That is when I first discovered that no job could ever compare to camp. Working two jobs over the summer was rough, to say the least. I did my best to spend all my spare time with the guy (he shall remain nameless for his own sake). It was certainly less than ideal. I did not feel as much a part of the camp staff family as I would have liked. Some new staff didn’t even know who I was until halfway through the summer! I resolved then that for the next summer I would be around camp more.
Due to a rough patch in my relationship though (the beginning of the end) I worked those same two jobs once more. Only this time I spent as much time as possible (at least 50 hours a week) at the camp. You may speculate all you like about a girl working at a boy scout camp. I am sure all sorts of scandalous things cross your mind. But for me, it’s not like that at all. I love the place and I love the people in a way that I find difficult to express sometimes. It is my home, one of the places I feel the happiest, even after working a 14 hour day in the blistering summer sun.
That is why this summer I have chosen to go back full time with no secondary job. 7 weeks living, almost completely isolated, with the majority of my best friends? I’ll take it! Not only that, but the staff there are some of the most supportive people I have ever known. They will go out of their way to notice if you’re having a bad day or a bad week and do their best to be there for you. Being a part of this camp brought me out of my shell and turned me into the bubbly, outgoing person that I am. Camp friends are for life.
What people don’t understand is how a job can mean so much to someone. That’s the part I find the most difficult to explain. How can you describe a feeling so strong that it makes you want to return to the same place each summer and work for a fraction of the money you could be making elsewhere. It’s not about the money, some people don’t understand that. And sure, sometimes I wonder if I’m missing out on the typical summer adventures. Spontaneous trips to the beach, spending the summer falling in love, road trips to goodness knows where, etc. But then I think about the friends and memories I have made the past four summers. Nights out of camp spent at Walmart, nights in camp spent by a fire or stargazing, talking about anything and everything with a group of people who just seem to get it. When I think about what I would be giving up to have a “typical summer experience” I realize I couldn’t do it. Someday I may decide that I’m too old for summer camp and need a “real job” to make ends meet. But for now and for as long as possible, I will continue to return to camp each summer.