I said this last year. And actually I think I said it the year before that too. I know it’s risky to put out there, but I really do wonder if I’ll go back.
Man it was hard. Sure it was rewarding and parts were fun, especially our overly tired nightly rants in the lounge. But in truth, I don’t know if I have another year in me.
And I don’t think anyone could blame me. We are about 12 to 1 in the counselor pool, we sleep in dingy dorms with shitty mattresses and even shittier food, we deal with sometimes being more of a therapist than a teacher (this one didn’t apply so much to me this year but I just barely dodged that bullet) and we get barely any sleep and very little pay when you break it down hourly.
So why do I go back? What is the draw? Well, I can remember what it was like to be that chubby teased girl whose friends ditched her once they reached 6th grade and realized how uncool she was. I remember what it was like to question my intuition and feel so alone in my way of thinking. I longed for a place like the camp I am a counselor for: a place of blind acceptance.
I’ve gotten to see some pretty amazing things at camp, ranging from the girl no one looked twice at getting the lead and stunning everyone to seeing the quiet, petrified girl take a huge risk and perform at the talent show. I asked the girls in my group what they are taking away from camp and one of them said, “Self respect. I haven’t thought of myself as fat once this week.” Even if I had nothing to do with that, it’s pretty amazing to be around.
I said a little something on the last night of camp about how middle school sucks and no matter what they find back home, at theater camp it’s cool to be a weirdo. I realized as I was saying it that I still need reminding of that too. Maybe my desire to go back to camp is my desire to be reminded that being awkward and different is actually a good thing. Maybe I need camp as much as they do.
And yet, I’m moving on to something different in my life. When I first went to camp, I still considered myself an actor. And while I’m still loosely connected to it, I’m beginning to wonder if my time is coming to a close. I’m also stronger than I was when I started there, I have more confidence in who I am and where I belong and maybe that gift that I get from watching these kids accept themselves can be given to someone else.
A part of me doesn’t want to put this out there, knowing that I could go back, that I may want to. But choosing not to go back would mean that I’ve moved to something different, that I’ve embraced my dream of a novelist. I guess I shouldn’t make this judgment too soon and when this is so fresh.