Saturday, August 5, 2017

Am I Too Old for Girl Scout Camp?

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By: Lime Green Giraffe Photography Editor, Meghan K.



When I was twelve years old, I went to Girl Scout camp for the first time. It was the longest I’d ever been away from my family, the first time I’d really ever had to make friends for myself—I was a shy kid, so I relied on my friends to introduce me to other people—and it was probably the most terrifying thing I’ve ever done. To put that last statement into perspective for you, I perform in musicals on a regular basis, I’m pretty chill about giving speeches, I’ve flown across the Atlantic to a country where English is not people’s native language, and I’ve gotten back on horses I’ve fallen off of within fifteen minutes of the fall—and while those rank among scary things I’ve done, I somehow consider camp the scariest. But it was probably also one of the best decisions I’ve ever made; I made a ton of friends and had some pretty cool adventures, and I got way more comfortable with myself in that one week than I had in my entire life. With the exception of last year, I’ve gone back to Girl Scout camp every year after that—it was so much fun that I couldn’t imagine not spending yet another summer there. But this year, as I was making my camp plans, my mother presented an important question for me; aren’t you too old for camp?
I can’t deny that she’s got a lot of valid reasons for asking. I was one of the oldest girls at the entire camp the last time I was there, I’ve been one of the oldest in my cabin without fail every single year, and I turned sixteen this year; that means there’s a possibility that I could be older than some of the counselors. So when she asked me if I was too old for camp, I had to stop a minute and really start thinking about it; am I too old for Girl Scout camp?
My knee-jerk reaction was no. I could think of a ton of reasons why any other girl my age would want to explore other things, but surely none of those fit me: I was okay being the oldest in the cabin, even the oldest at camp; I was okay being older than the counselors; I didn’t find the activities boring or too young for me in the slightest. But then my mother presented me with some other ideas to think about when I was answering this question.
The first thing she wanted me to consider was the opportunities I could find outside of camp. I am deeply involved with theatre, and she suggested that I help my theatre troupe with some of their summer camps for younger kids, so I could learn a little bit more about what goes into putting together a show from the tech side. I’ve been researching places where I can try out aerial silks, and she suggested that I explore that over the summer as well. There’s also the various travel ideas my dad gets and countless other things I could be doing; basically, even if I don’t do camp, I have a lot of other things I could do over the summer.
She recommended that I think about the dynamic between me and the counselors. I’m getting older—it’s distinctly possible that I may reach a point where I’m the same age as or even older than some of the counselors, and while that might be okay for me, it could be difficult for some of them to be in charge of a girl that close to them in age, a problem that would only be exacerbated as I got older.
She then asked me what’s kept drawing me to camp all these years. This was pretty easy to answer: I like spending every single waking minute outdoors, getting sunburnt and bug-bitten and rained on and sweaty and dirty and just being out in nature; I like that camp pushes me out of my comfort zone, bringing me to activities that I would never even consider back in the everyday world; I like that there are no cliques at camp, no history, no friends we’ve already made, just a bunch of people all in the same situation who are ready to have fun; and I like that camp gives me a chance to unplug and completely disconnect from the outside world for a while, giving me a hard reset before the school year starts.
After we had this conversation, we had a harder one; sooner or later, I’m going to age out of camp and I will eventually have to find those opportunities elsewhere. If I want to do canoeing, I’ll have to explore places to do that; if I want to spend every minute of every day outside, I have to be responsible for it; if I want to hit the hard reset button on my brain and completely unplug and ditch the entire world, I will have to find some way of doing it that doesn’t involve camp. I’ve always been aware that this day is coming, but it’s getting closer, and sooner or later I do have to think about it whether I want to or not.
But then my mom suggested that I explore becoming a counselor in the coming years. This is an option that I was considering a while back, but kind of gave up on last year—I’m not good at being always on, I overthink things a lot, and my patience isn’t always the greatest—but she kind of rekindled a little bit of that hope in me; maybe my freaky knowledge of how to get everywhere at camp and my love for giving tours and supporting my younger cabin buddies can actually be useful someday.

The general takeaway I got from our conversation was this; I don’t consider myself too old for camp as of this year. But when that time does come, I have a lot of options; I might look at becoming a camp counselor, I’m definitely going to explore the other things I can do outside of camp, and I’m certainly not going to stop looking for the things that camp brings me—I just have to look for them in other places. Kids always say that when they grow up, they want to do X; when I grow up, I’m going to look for a way to recreate camp outside of camp.

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