Written by Katrina Martin
You know that feeling at the end of a rollercoaster ride? Flying to a jolting stop, hair blown back and eyes wide with the last letters of the scream still trailing off your tongue. You realize you’ve forgotten to breathe, forgotten to enjoy it, and that you still have a vice grip on the stranger’s arm next to you. Oh, and at some point, you lost your sunglasses.
The end of summer camp feels very similar. The only difference, perhaps, is that along with your sunglasses you also lost sleep, your voice, and—after stalking your camp crush at every possible opportunity—your dignity. Summer camp really is an experience like no other.
Whether you were the one sneaking out of your cabin to hang rivals’ undies on the flagpole, or the one scaling the flagpole to retrieve the undies in the morning, the end of camp is a strange adjustment for both campers and counsellors. You’re used to being perpetually sunburnt and sweaty, screaming senseless chants at the top of your lungs multiple times a day, and never getting enough sleep. Is it really the end of the best thing ever?
The best part of camp isn’t the free shirt or the farmer’s tan that comes with it, the best part is the “spiritual high” you experience. Really, I think they should put that on the front of their brochures: Canoeing, Horseback Riding, AND You Will Become ON FIRE FOR GOD! (Christian Cry Session Guaranteed).
At summer camp, God feels real and you’re sure you are going to start a revival at your school, or at least read your Bible every morning. But now summer camp is over, and you’d rather fit in at school and get an extra 20 minutes of sleep in the morning.
So how do you go from two months of euphoria to boring, everyday life?
Remember that Summer Camp Is not Everyday Life
Sorry, I wish it wasn’t true. But as amazing as the summer camp experience is, the real world has far less pranks and chanting, and a lot more hurt, temptations, and differing worldviews. Daily life is often mundane and boring, and people can be downright annoying. So, after camp is over, take time to think about what you learned and how it can be applied to real, day-to-day, messy life.
It’s OK to Have Seasons
It happens to the best of us. You slowly feel the effects of the “spiritual high” wearing off and you’re desperate to go back to camp for another hit. Even a weekend retreat would do! But alas, our lives exist in seasons, and we are not meant to feel a constant “spiritual high.”
I’m reminded of the moment when Jesus is praying on the Mount of Olives before his crucifixion. He expresses an entirely human desire to stay on the mountain top and avoid the difficulty which awaits him (“My Father, if it is your will, may this cup be taken from me,” Matthew 26:39). And yet despite the pain He knows awaits him, He descends. In the same way, we can’t always stay in the mountain top seasons of our lives.
Don’t Wait for Next Year
So, while summer camp definitely is not real life and may be more of a season, don’t use these facts as excuses just to wait for next summer to get your fix. Jesus desperately wants to be a part of your everyday life, so use the momentum from summer camp to propel you into a new vigour in your relationship with Him.
Join the Christian group at your school (there are cool Christian people everywhere), and commit to reading your Bible (even without the dock and star-filled sky, it’s pretty awesome). Meet God in the day-to-day, and you’ll be even more prepared to encounter Him during the summer months next year.