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Embracing the Mid-summer Blues

The month of August has just begun and with it brings transition, excitement, and a looming sense that unfortunately at some point the summer will have to come to a close. It is during this time that our priorities begin to shift and second sessions of camp are running full steam ahead. A lump forms in our throats as we realize that the school year is quickly approaching. Maybe it is the heat getting to me or the end of the end of Cancer season, but it is always difficult for me to think about parting with summer. To me, summer represents freedom, joy, and warmth that is incredibly hard to replicate. It is such a bittersweet time. I tend to find it challenging to embrace the summer at this moment because the fear of losing starts to consume my mind. I feel incredibly grateful in this season and to have summer camp (or summer camp reunions as a young adult) but I also feel an immense amount of pressure to make the most out of what is left. I get an overcoming urgency that I should be taking advantage of every opportunity, meeting up with every friend, heading out on every adventure, and soaking up every single ounce of sunshine I can. This is not only a feeling I experience in my adult life but one I experienced throughout my childhood and especially during my time at summer camp. As a camp counselor, I tended to see this shift occur in my campers as well. My staff and I labeled this phenomenon as the “mid-summer blues.”

I think most people undergo some form of the mid summer blues regardless of their age or state in life. Times of transition are often difficult for young people, especially ones that occur at summer camp as it is the designated time for campers to explore and tap into their most creative, adventurous and unknown parts of themselves. My first session campers always came into camp with the most excitement in the world, they could jump off the walls for hours and never need a break, at least for the first week or two of camp. They had so much pent-up energy it was hard to know where to even start. By the middle of July, the exhaustion and excitement would start to settle and our bunk became much quieter than usual. Heat exhaustion started to kick in and campers finally felt settled in. When second session campers came to camp, of course they brought with them excitement and energy but it always felt and looked different then the first couple of weeks of summer. Second session campers were far more calm in their nature and had gotten out the first moments of summer jitters. By the start of August, campers, counselors and really everyone could feel that at some point summer was going to come to a close and that established a different mood in the air. Sometimes this felt just more calm and quiet and at other points you could sense the somberness which felt like the more you ignored it, the worse it became.

As a camper I remember beginning to feel the routine of camp in August. What was once the most exciting moments of the year started to become much more normalized. Although summer camp is the best part of the year for many, like all things, sometimes you need rest and relaxation from it in order to fully engage. If you find your child, camper, colleague, or even yourself needing to move a little more slowly, have grace for each other and let yourself rest. The summer is not only for fun-filled activities in the heat and endless excitement but also a time for rejuvenation and reconnection. We often forget that young people are also in need of rest. Not only do they need this rest but oftentimes campers can’t name this need in themselves. If you see your child or a friend who seems off, help them take space for themselves and urge them to rest. What I have learned over the years and from my many summers at camp, as a camper and a counselor is that if I don’t rest when my body is asking for it, I won’t be able to make the most out of the rest of my summer. This summer, I am taking my time, learning lessons from this unique past year and letting go of the fear of missing out. I say, we should embrace the mid-summer blues for a moment, because when it comes down to it, rest is what truly fuel’s all of us.