Summer means many things to people. For kids, it means more time to play, to ride their bikes, to go to the beach, to hang out with their friends, and a chance to stay up later into the night. The highlight of summer just might include one of the greatest experiences a kid can have–going to summer camp.
While going to camp can mean many different things these days, most experiences of going to camp involve spending more time outside in nature than a child would spend in their normal day-to-day routine. There is something truly re-creative that happens for kids when they spend time outside. Running through a field, catching frogs by a pond, hiking in the woods, climbing a tree, paddling a canoe or kayak, swimming in a lake, creating a special craft project, playing capture the flag, or sleeping outside in a tent are memories that can last a life time. If you went to summer camp as a child, I imagine you know just what I am talking about.
This past week three different parents have told me about how much fun their kids have had at camp this summer. Each of them then added, “I wish there was summer camp for parents!” I imagine that each of them was longing for something that would be as re-creative for their souls as camp had been for the souls of their children.
It might not be possible for we adults to actually go off to summer camp any more, but it certainly is possible for us to create experiences for ourselves that involve breaking out of our normal day-to -day routines and spending some re-creative time in nature. Perhaps we, too, can go for a walk in the woods, go on a boat ride, play a game, or enjoy a swim. We might also take a bike ride, go for a walk on the beach, create a piece of art, go fishing, or cook some marshmallows around an evening campfire.
I don’t think it is a coincidence that many summer vacation plans involve some combination of the activities listed above. Perhaps vacations are really a way for adults try to recapture the childhood experience of going to camp. We adults most likely will not be able to return to our favorite summer camp from childhood, but we can try to create moments today that capture some of the freedom and fun that camps provided us when we were kids.
With this in mind, the last three mornings I have gone for an early morning run along the shores of Lake Michigan before my work day in Chicago. The experience of the rising sun warming my face along with the sound of the gently breaking waves has been as re-creative for my soul as the running has been for my body, much the way I felt at camp as a child.
Do you ever experience summer camp moments in your life? How might you create more moments that are re-creative for your soul in the days that are left of this summer? You may not be able to get away for a true vacation, but instead maybe you may be able to enjoy an hour here and there spending some re-creative time outdoors right where you are. You may not catch a frog, climb a tree, or play capture the flag, but doing something in nature, something outside of your normal routine, is sure to be good for your emotional and spiritual wellness.