Guest blogger Hannah Pasternak returns to tell us about to how to make it through the potential “2nd year camp blues.”
One of the best things about camp is that you feel a perfect balance of comfort (by returning home each summer) and excitement (as one summer is so different from the next). This is the magical reason why some campers are able to keep going back for 10, 12, or even 15 consecutive years.
It is difficult to understand the beauty of this until you have spent enough summers at camp to realize how much each one truly varies. Then, after five or six summers, you have matured enough so that you are able to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of camp—this is how camp has changed me, this is how I have changed camp, and this is why I have fallen in love with such a special place.
This epiphany can only occur after a number of years; and thus, the “second-year blues” are born. The second-year blues can be defined rather simply: during a camper’s second, or perhaps third, summer at camp, he or she may start to feel homesick, bored, or unhappy regardless of how much they enjoyed their previous summer. This phenomenon is created by the high that a first summer at camp creates for a child. There is nothing like your first summer, and although one can return for a dozen summers afterwards, a camper will only have a “first” summer once. Every summer following will be just as great—probably better—but it will be different.
During a first summer, every cheer in the dining hall, every “Color War” game, and every star they see in the clear, country sky becomes embedded like an impression in a new camper’s mind. Each experience during those first four or seven weeks will be eye opening. This is not to say that each summer will not get better after this one—from experience I can vouch that it definitely does—but it is difficult to top a first summer at camp during a second one.
I certainly had both the second and third-year blues at camp. Due to my inherent nature of receiving bad luck, I was never given a turn at being a “cheerleader” (basically a term that entitles the eleven-year-olds to carry a special color war clipboard). Of course, this was totally unintentional and accidental. Even so, it was still a major bummer for me. I also played the role of “The Wall of Thorns” in my age group’s production of “Sleeping Beauty”—kind of embarrassing. My sole responsibility in the show was to carry a very large square of wood, painted to look like it was covered in thorns, with a circular cut out in the center for my face. Also, my friend situation was not as I thought it might be—campers may find their set group of lifelong friends after a few summers.
So, is there a remedy to wash away the blues? Not exactly. My best advice to any parent is to keep encouraging your child to have the time of their life regardless of how many sad letters home you receive. My advice to any camper is to keep an open mind and not to give up on camp, ever! Camp will change and blossom with each summer. If you go with the flow and soak in all it has to offer, you will never be bored. I, along with my 36 best camp friends, would do absolutely anything to be in your shoes right now. Make the best of your time there now; it is only going to get better. In a couple of years, you’ll realize how right I am. I swear on my camp’s name (and I only say that when I really mean it)!
Hannah comes from a generations-old family tradition of camping in Maine, and is herself an alum of a Maine Camp Experience member camp. Hannah graduated from high school this past June, and will be attending Brown University in the fall.
Talk to Laurie, our Maine Campcierge™, about choosing the right camp for your child and what to do in Maine.