Whether you’re already at camp (lucky!) or are counting down the days until you go, I’m sure you’ve figured out by now that working at summer camp is no easy job. Sure, you’re going to get a great tan, make some amazing friends, hang out with awesome kids AND you get to go travelling afterwards, but your time spent at camp is going to be hectic, from the moment you arrive for staff training to the moment you leave, (most likely crying your eyes out!).
It’s important though that you do try to find some time to relax this summer – you don’t want to have the classic ‘Week 6 burnout’ that I’ve seen so many times (and even experienced myself). I know that it might seem like you’re never going to have a moment to yourself, but there actually are some fairly easy ways to just take a minute, breathe it all in and chill, before getting right back into the madness.
1. Read a book
At my camp we have ‘rest hour’ in the middle of the day – I’m sure pretty much every camp has something similar – where basically you get to chill out in your tent (yes, we live in tents) with your campers, who spend their time reading, chatting, making friendship bracelets or writing letters. While this is a great time to have some fun conversations with your campers, it’s also a fab opportunity for you to grab that book you’ve been meaning to read and just immerse yourself in it for at least 10 minutes. Reading is proven to lower stress levels and help you relax, so try to find some time this summer to get lost in a great story.
2. Take a minute or two to yourself
This is super important. Even if it’s just for a brief moment where you can count to ten and take a deep breath, these little breaks will do you the world of good. Walk slow to places to give yourself some thinking time (not so slow that you’re late though!), take some zen time in the woods, or just close your eyes and enjoy the sunshine in between activity periods… do something that is just you.
3. Sleep in on your day off
I cannot stress this one enough. I know on your first few days off at least, you’ll be wanting to make the most of it and go see some fun places or spend time with your friends, but honestly, the best way to make your day off count is to get in some total down time and re-energise yourself. So don’t set an alarm, sleep through breakfast, hell, sleep through lunch if you want to, then get some friends together and have a movie afternoon.
4. Listen to music
This is a given really. Camp is all about music. We have music at every meal, during oval (our recess time after lunch), in village, during thunderstorm dance parties, pool parties, pretty much all the time. And camp music is fab. It’s great. It’s fun and silly and ridiculous. But sometime it’s nice to go back to your personal music choices, put your headphones on and zone out to the sounds of, well, whatever you like… there are no kids listening!
5. Watch the sunset
Potentially my most favourite thing to do at camp. Sunsets at camp are just better than anywhere else. They have a kind of magic to them. And however many you see (and it will be a lot), it’s never going to be enough, with each one amazing you more than the one before. So go watch the sun setting on another epic camp day, go by yourself if you can, or take some friends, or even take your campers. Marvel at the beauty around you, and think about just how lucky you are to be there.
6. Go for a walk
I mentioned this earlier, but taking a little, slow walk around camp can do wonders for your state of mind. Use any down time you have to go for a wander through the woods, explore your new surroundings, or even see if there are any local hikes you can go on – my camp is really near the Appalachian trail and I really haven’t taken advantage of that as much as I should.
7. Join in with your favourite activities
Something I think a lot of people don’t realise about working at summer camp, is that you actually don’t get to try out a lot of activities – you spend most of your time teaching the one you were hired for, which doesn’t really leave a lot of time to do anything else. So I urge you to use your time wisely, and maybe on your day off, go find an activity that you’ve always wanted to try and see if you can join in – maybe you’ll find a new passion for climbing or sailing or tennis or singing… the possibilities are endless.
8. Write in your journal
I’m a big believer in writing everything down… hence why I started this blog and even ended up writing a book. But since my very first day at camp, I’ve always kept a summer journal, or diary, call it what you will. I don’t write a lot in it, but I do try to write every single day during the summer, and it’s really therapeutic to just get out your stresses and worries and put them onto paper, then to put them away. Also, it’s super fun to read back through them years later and laugh at how ridiculous you were being, or just reminisce at how amazing everything was.
9. Sit round the campfire with your friends
What is camp for if you can’t get super cheesy and enjoy a late night campfire down by the lake with some of your favourite people in the world. I LOVE campfires – they make everyone so philosophical and relaxed. So take an evening, find a group of people who need some chill time and go make a fire, tell stories and (of course) have some s’mores.