One of my favorite camper quotes comes from a guest attending our Arrowhead Camp for folks with I/DD many years ago. When overwhelmed, stressed, and finding it hard to see past an obstacle, their words remind me to try to catch my breath, take a step back, and look at things from another perspective. The quote came on a Wednesday, which anyone who has ever worked during a week-long camp knows how awesome of an experience it is. But, you also know how draining a Wednesday can be. Wednesday’s are when homesick feelings kick in, the “newness” has worn off, personalities begin to clash, the staff is drained, and that after-lunch nap is not to be interrupted unless Camp is on fire.
Experienced staffers know that this dread is temporary. Thursday’s wash away the Wednesday blues, which leads to the Friday sorrows, where everyone is overwhelmed with the realization that camp is almost over and we will all miss our new friends. Camp is quite the emotional rollercoaster, y’all, and when you’re on the uphill Wednesday track, you can’t always see the fun slope on the other side.
On that particular Wednesday, I walked outside after lunch (drained and ready for the nap of a lifetime), when I saw the “lovebirds” casually sitting on the patio. This camper and his girlfriend were inseparable, and anytime we saw them, they were sitting next to each other sporting the biggest grins on their faces. I gave a pleasant greeting and asked how their day was going. He replied “Guess what?” I took the bait. He said “guess how long we’ve been dating.” I said something obnoxious like “That depends, what day is it?” He stood up and announced with pride to the entire patio, “In 9 more months, we will have been dating for one whole year!” choking back my laughter, I congratulated them and wished them the best. On the inside I thought “With that way of thinking, after I save $32,000, I will have paid off my entire $36,000 student loan debt – YEAH!”
The quote isn’t revolutionary. It’s honestly a little silly and gave me a good laugh at the time. But it is also a subtle reminder of how we all see the same world in different ways. Everyone has their own way of thinking, and when we’re having difficulties with something, whether it’s completing a task, getting through a week, or trying to communicate our point with someone – we need to step back and remind ourselves to try a new angle. It may just alter our reality.
Now, on tough Wednesdays, I know that in three days I’ll be missing my campers. The other takeaway is one of severe optimism. You’ve been asked if you see the glass as half empty or half full? This camper saw a nearly empty glass and was already celebrating the day the glass would be overflowing. It may not be healthy to think that way 100% of the time, but I think it could be incredibly beneficial to try that exercise in positivity and self-appreciation once a week or so! And just think, in eleven months, you will have practiced happiness for an entire year!