Beth: Well guys, we’ve made it to the end of the summer in one piece, except for a few campers who are lepers. — Wet Hot American Summer
For many of us summer camp was a huge part of our childhood, especially for those of us that went to sleepaway camp. We learned new skills (like sailing), made lifelong friends, and formed memories that will never leave us. But in my opinion, we also learned some very useful lessons that can apply to our careers and overall life.
As a young kid, camp really gives you your first sense of independence, especially sleepaway camp. I was never one of those kids who was dying to get away from my parents, but before I was a high school senior, I decided I needed to practice so college wouldn’t be such a huge transition. I definitely missed my parents and the comforts of home, but I also realized that living without your parents is pretty awesome. No one tells you you have to eat something, make your bed (well at least at my camp, which was more of an academic camp), who to socialize with, or that you shouldn’t wear your bathing suit for seven hours (but you really shouldn’t do that anyway). This is when you first have to start really thinking for yourself and it’s a great moment.
Trying new things
As a kid, you constantly try new things, but when we become adults we tend to shy away from getting out of our comfort zone. Try to go back to that camp mentality. Eat that weird food at the mess hall. Try water skiing. Try this in your career too: learn Photoshop or take a coding class. Experiment! Unless it’s poison ivy. Always stay away from poison ivy.
At camp you have to make new friends. If you don’t, you won’t survive (look at those kids in Friday the 13th). In business, you also need to network and form alliances, because you never know when you may get lost in the woods.
Even if you didn’t go to an outdoorsy survival camps, most camps show that you have the ability to rough it (if only slightly). If you can deal with bugs, sharing a cabin or a room, eating terrible food, adolescent angst in the summer, arts and crafts, actual camping, climbing things, sports, and annoying counselors, then you can survive most things. Remember this when you’re struggling at work or feel like you’re so tired you can’t keep your eyes open anymore.
Being outside is good for you
I forget this when I’m looking at my computer screen 100 hours a day, but I actually enjoy being outside and I need to do it more. It’s good to be in touch with nature.
University of Michigan researchers found that subjects who strolled through a nature setting saw a 20 percent improvement in attention and focus tests. However, participants who took a brief walk in a busy city did not see any cognitive benefits. Taking in the sights and sounds of nature appears to be especially beneficial for our minds, researchers say. Nature images “engage our so-called involuntary attention, which comes in to play when our minds are inadvertently drawn to something interesting that doesn’t require intense focus, like a pleasing picture or landscape feature. We can still talk and think while noticing the element,” according to the Wall Street Journal.
Have a favorite lesson you’ve carried since sleepaway camp that you use in your career? Share with us in the comments!