My favorite vacation wasn’t a vacation —  it was a job

Eight weeks at a summer camp on a lake in the woods
Counselors take the plunge at a summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee.
Counselors take the plunge at a summer camp on Lake Winnipesaukee.

Eight weeks at a summer camp on a lake in the woods, herding kids through long, busy days and enjoying those short breaks when we had the water, trails and starry skies to ourselves. 

Being a camp counselor was a delight, a chance to share the joys of water fights, campfires on the beach and sleeping out under the stars with impressionable youth. Each week brought new faces that were soon covered in grime and sweat, and we did our best to make their time with us meaningful, exciting and fun. 

The dirtier, the better — that was our philosophy. 

I spent my college summers at camp, and I’ll remain forever thankful for that idyllic, peaceful period. 

I didn’t realize it back then, but working at summer camp is only feasible for a limited amount of time. 

Eventually you grow up and take on more adult responsibilities — a full-time job, marriage, children. Most people can’t take eight weeks off to go live in the woods and play Capture the Flag and Ultimate Frisbee with children. Camp is short-term. It lasts a season, and then you return to more serious pursuits. 

I won’t lie: Camp was also exhausting. 

We were on the go from dawn to dusk, with a brief siesta that allowed us to catch our breath. 

Perhaps that’s why those weekend breaks, when we were between groups of kids, were so special. 

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We would head down to the beach for nighttime swims under the moon, quietly making our way along darkened, winding trails. We would play pranks on each other, take naps in our cabins and head into town for dinner and maybe a movie. We would bask in the calm that comes from being deep in the woods away from computers and cellphones and large groups of people. 

I was paid to work at camp. 

It was very much a job, and I’d be lying if I said those long, emotional days didn’t wear me out. 

But camp was also, in its own way, a vacation — a place that took me away from my daily routine and everyday toils, enabling me to see and experience the world differently. 

There aren’t many places like that, and I wish I could go back.


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