The A-Z of Summer Camp

Page 1

The A-Z of Sleep Away Camp finding comfort in unfamiliar


dedicated to camp rock-bottom a terrible yet informative three weeks


index

Arrival

2

N ecessities

18

Bunk beds

4

O nly __ more days

20

Cozy cabin space

6

Poison plants

21

Dining anxious

7

Quality time with you

22

Eeeeeekkkkk

8

R outines

24

Friend bracelets

9

S ’mores

25

Go-to places

10

T hunderstorms

25

H ere sickness

11

Under the covers

26

Infirmary

11

Very very bad day

28

J ournaling

12

W ater activities

29

Keep going

13 e

X it strategy

30

Letters home

14

You’re here, finally

31

Mental maps

16

Zzzzzzzzzzzz

32


THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

introduction This is a guide for those who do not acclimate easily to unfamiliar situations. It is for those who are maybe not too great with the outdoors, generally cynical at a young age, and get very anxious at a change of environment. The lessons in this book come from my own experience at sleep-away camp. I went to sleep away camp my summer going into fourth grade, and it was just not for me. I am not great with the outdoors, bugs, thunderstorms, sleeping outside, and being away from support systems. It was also my first time feeling anxiety of being alone and in a place where I knew nothing and no one. When I went to camp, I admired those who were able to make friends right away,and seamlessly get accustomed to the ways of camp. I was not one of those people. I only went to sleep away camp once, however in that time, I learned a great deal. A lot of the skills I developed at this camp helped me deal with almost all the transitions I’ve gone through in my life. That horrible summer camp experience and what I learned there helped me get through high school, summer programs and my first years of college. In many ways I am also extremely grateful to this summer for giving me a toolkit of dealing with the uncomfort and unfamiliar. So, if you are someone who finds themselves at sleep-away camp for the first time, or is alone in a new environment and finding it difficult to acclimate, you have come to the right place! The tips in this book can help to create the foreign and difficult environment slowly get more manageable (and will also give you some good camp and s’mores related tips!). DISCLAIMER: if you are looking for a guide on how to camp, this is not the book for you. This book is mostly focused on mental survival.


FINDING COMFORT IN UNFAMILIAR

is a picture my parents * Above took right before they left me

at camp. Behind the smile was a lot of anxiety and dread.

1


A rrivial

FIRST DAY, WORST DAY

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

Arriving at an unfamiliar place is a terrible experience. It’s your first time seeing your surroundings and it is when all the feelings of this change, hit you at once. The whole experience can be broken up into two different eras, both of which feel like days apart but really happen in a matter of hours: pre-goodbye and post-goodbye.

real footage of * Very me frozen in anxiety as I initially got out of the car.

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pre-goodbye: The hardest part of anything is anticipating difficulty. It’s hard not to fixate on feeling anxious about being alone and all the uncertainty in front of you. Try to be present in the moment with your family and really take in this time. actual event

anticipation

When you say goodbye to the people who dropped you off, there can be a mix of emotions you feel. Panic, anxiety, loneliness, acceptance, and more panic to name a few. The first hour of being alone is the worst. Your thoughts become so loud and the loneliness is very consuming. It’s important to get these thoughts out so that they are not just yelling in your head.

 feelings throughout your first day

take this space to write down your

after drop off

one hour

5 hours

morning after

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post-goodbye:


B unk

beds

THE TOUGH CHOICE

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

If you have arrived earlier than your other cabin mates, then you might have the privilege of picking your bunk! This can be a difficult choice since there are many options you have to weigh. Each option has its pros and cons, so pick the one that works best for you.

bottom bunk: Unlike the top bunk, the bottom bunk can become a couch for people to gather at (sometimes for the people in the top bunks). This can be difficult when wanting alone time, but can be beneficial in making friends. Also you might get your bunkmates foot in your face as they climb down the quick way. But, the bottom bunk is very convenient to leave from and to climb into.

4


top bunk:

If you did not get to choose your bunk, *and you envisioned yourself residing on a

different bunk, then acknowledge your lost vision, and try to make the bunk you got as homey as you can.

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the top bunk is beneficial because it really becomes your own space. Not a lot of people can gather on the top bunk, and most visits to your bunk are by invitation. However, getting up and down each morning, and making your bed can be extremely challenging. Just getting up to go to the bathroom becomes its own mini obstacle course.


C ozy

cabin

MAKING YOUR SPACE YOUR OWN

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

Making the space your own can really help you get acclimated. Unpacking some of your clothes, hanging up some decor and making your bed, are all things to help transition to this living situation. Seeing your possessions in this very random space can be a bit jarring, but overtime it’ll become a new normal. This book is also a mini decor piece to add to your space! The outside cover can be used to create a mini tent, and there is a little camper and stand included. Hopefully, this little tent and camper will remind you that you are not alone in this experience, and brighten up your space.

a fellow camper:

❶ flip to the cover of the book

untie the strings holding each flap together

cut this out

flip the cover to make a tent shape and tie the strings to secure

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finding a table: Sitting down at a table with people you’ve never met before can be very daunting. The first thing to do is either find some familiar faces, or just choose a table you want to sit at. Then take a deep breath and ask if you can sit with them. Remember that they also probably had to do the same thing when they were choosing where to sit. You got this!

Always bring snacks where ever you can because you never know when you will be hungry.

If you know you get anxious when you eat, try bringing ginger chews with you.

la Granola bars make an amazing on-the-go snack

I have an open ginger chew with me at all times.

D ining

gr an o

Try not to eat big meals if you don’t feel well. Instead try eating more frequent, smaller meals and snacks.

yu m

my

One of the most difficult things to get use to is the food anywhere that isn’t home. When I went to camp, I didn’t eat anything but applesauce because I constantly had a stomachache and I didn’t want to eat. So, to avoid only eating apple sauce, here are some tips for nervous eating.

iant ous i anx ger gin

anxious 7

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anxious eating:


If I heard that right, this is the sound of discovering a bug in either your bed, the bathroom, or in the shower. For many people, they may expect that bugs would be present at something like a summer camp, but they can still be surprising. This is because sleep away camp is the medium between actual camping with a tent on the ground and home living. Some elements are similar and some are not, so it makes seeing a bug all the more jolting. Here is how do deal with them.

Maintain strong eye contact with the bug that way its movements are no surprise. (slight size exaggeration)

Use the jar and paper method to get unwanted visitors out of your space. Place the jar over the bug and slide a paper between the surface and the jar.

inside nature:

Never make eye contact with the bugs in nature. In this instance, ignorance is bliss

KKKKK

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

outside nature:

E EEEEEEEEKK 8


F riend

making

WEAVING NEW CONNECTIONS

you can see, there is a very * asstrong and real correlation

between making bracelets and happiness. You can’t argue with science.

number of bracelets made

different patterns:

❶ ❷

chevron pattern

diagonal pattern

❸ ❹

spiral staircase pattern

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diamond pattern

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crafting & happiness

happiness & comfort

Making friends can be very difficult at first. You may not know who to go up to or even how to start a conversation. However, similarly to asking people to sit next to them, its all about just reaching out. What might also help is asking people to make bracelets with you. Everybody loves a good crafting session, so maybe try reaching out to someone.


G o-to

spot

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

FINDING COMFORT IN SURROUNDINGS

When you are in a new place, you may become very fond of a certain area or space. It may be the deck of your cabin, a little space in the woods, or a specific tree stump. These places become a happy place for you to visit whenever you feel down or uncomfortable. If it makes you happy, then try to go to this place whenever you have the time!

10


H ere

sickness

(NOUN) DEF: INABILITY TO ENJOY A NEW ENVIRONMENT

symptoms:

treatments:

→ →

Anxiousness

Not wanting to participate in camp activities

→ →

Inability to eat

→ → → → →

Wanting to call home (or anyone who will pick up)

Crafts Going for walks Cleaning your space Journaling Home cooked meals

I nfirmary

DEALING WITH FEELING SICK

If you are sick (or maybe want to get out of an activity) then you might have to take a trip to the infirmary. I was in there quite a bit with chronic anxious stomach pains (and pain from eating nothing but applesauce). If you are nervous to go, just remember that they are there to help you and hopefully do what they can to help you feel better.

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Inability to retain camp song


J ournaling WRITING AND REFLECTING

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

Journaling is a great way to materialize your thoughts, and to track your progression and growth through any process. What’s great about journaling is that you can really write anything. Its just for you, so you can include any thought that pops into your head, any feelings you may be having, or even dedicate sections to drawing. It’s important to get any thought you have out so that it doesn’t build up inside.

/22

7/13

important to date each entry at * It’s the top of the page so that you can

keep track of how your thoughts and feelings change when you look back through your entries.

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As I was creating this book, my friend Sam made an amazing metaphor for being uncomfortable in a challenging environment. She said that some people are like freshwater fish and some are saltwater. Each one has an environment that works best for them, and when one is placed in the other’s environment it can be extremely uncomfortable. So, in this process, just be easy on yourself if transitions are hard for you. Just keep going. Things will get easier.

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K eep going 13


L etters

home

COMMUNICATION COMFORT

Sending letters may be a great way of checking in with your family and friends. This can help get your mind off of things and maybe reach out for some advice of how to deal with a situation. It is also nice to reflect on your time at camp. Also if you forgot something at home that you might find valuable, its good to reach

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

out in a letter!

example letter:

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letter contents Write about how you are doing and any interesting moments you’ve had. At the end, ask for a response! It’s always nice to get mail back and see how people are doing.

FINDING COMFORT IN UNFAMILIAR

Mrs. Smith 1234 Road Ave City, State, Zip

❸ ❷

name of recipient

return address 15

❹ recipient address


M ental

maps

GETTING TO KNOW YOUR SPACE

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

Becoming more familiar with your surroundings can help to ease some of the anxieties towards the new environment. When you first arrive, you feel like you have no orientation in this area. Creating a mental map will happen over time as you spend more time in this place. But, you can also try to go on walks to get a better sense of your surroundings so you can feel more comfortable.

* *

*

16


*

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key good memories bad memories main road scenic route water

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*


N ecessities

MUST HAVES (ITEMS NOT TO SCALE)

stuffed animal

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

A loved stuffed animal is more than essential. It can provide comfort anytime anywhere with just one hug.

flashlight The wilderness is very dark. Who would have thought? I know I didn’t. Keeping a flashlight will help with midnight trips to the bathroom, and navigating the dark cabin.

Nancy Drew

good reads Whenever you have free time, it is nice to sink yourself into a book! These were my go-tos at camp.

The Mysterious Benedict Society

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bug spray The bugs in the wilderness will eat you alive. This will protect you from their tiny bites form h-e-double hockey sticks.

Thread is a must. Whether it is lanyards, bracelets, or for wilderness survival, you will run into a moment when you are in need of some thread or string.

happy photos Photos or little memories that make you happy and remind you of home are helpful for moments of homesickness.

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thread


O nly

days

COUNT DOWN COPING

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

DAYS UNTIL I LEAVE 1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16

17

18

19

20

21

22

23

24

25

26

27

Something that really helps during a difficult time is creating a countdown for something you are looking forward to. If your situation has a set end date, like camp, then you can make a calendar of how long you have until then. If you need to get use to a permanent situation, create a calendar until a certain break, holiday, or other benchmark. They cross off each day as it goes by. This seems like a very simple thing to do, but having that visual reference point of progress can be helpful. Each day also brings a sense of accomplishment as you near the end of the calendar.

20


P oison

plants

AVOIDING THE RASH

consistently * Be mindful of your surroundings

poison ivy

poison oak

poison sumac

small tree with parallel leaves

leaves of three let them be.

21

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Spotting poison plants can be challenging if you’ve never been shown. When I went to camp I lived in constant fear that every plant I touched was Poison Ivy. Luckily, I only had one hand rash during my time at camp from a bug bite, but living in constant fear that any plant can be Poison Ivy is not a great way of living. So, here is how to tell which plants are poisonous.


Q uality

you time

GETTING TO KNOW YOURSELF

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

Sometimes, being in an uncomfortable place can be an opportunity to learn more about yourself. In these moments, your inner dialogue can be very loud, and you might find the things you like, dislike, and some coping mechanisms that work for you. It is nice to try and set that time aside with yourself to check in and think about what you like. Whether that be going for a walk, taking a break to do some breathing, or just setting aside time for yourself to read a book you like! each section, write or draw some  Inanswers of things you like! favorite time of year

write down any dreams or goals you have

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something you are looking forward to

somethings you are grateful for

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10 places you want to visit in your life


R outines

STARTING AND ENDING YOUR DAYS

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

A routine is always good to help you create some stability in your environment. When there is so much that feels uncontrollable, its nice to have little moments in your day that you can rely on to be the same. Routines also establish a simple task that helps you feel a bit accomplished in your day. It’s important to set these routines up in both the morning and the evening so that you are starting and ending your day with these reliable tasks.

morning routine: Starting off the day by making your bed is a tiny thing to do, but can really start off the day right. It’s also very nice to come back to a made bed.

evening routine: Ending your day by washing your face, or reading a book can really help to wind down from the day and get you ready for bed.

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S‘mores

S’mores are a gooey beacon of light in any unfamiliar experience. The warm charred marshmallow, melted chocolate, and crisp honey graham is the most nostalgic flavor combination. There is no correct way to eat s’mores, and so many innovative ways of enjoying them! They make any unfamiliar environment 100% better.

under done

socially acceptable

perfect!

T hunderstorms If you are like me, you might not be fond of thunderstorms. When there are usually thunderstorms, you might be one to hide under your bed, or cover your ears, or maybe even grab the emergency radio and tell your family to start making their way to the basement for safety (yikes). Something that might help get you through the storm-especially if you have screens for windows-is placing a towel over the window. It keeps wind and water out and can help you get a better night’s sleep.

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Try sticking the chocolate into the melted marshmallow to melt the chocolate even more!


U nder

the covers

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

IDEAS FOR “LIGHTS OUT” TIMES

“Lights out time” can be very inconvenient and disruptive. It seems like everytime you get to a good part of a book, or most often getting into the groove of making a lanyard, the counselors would call “lights out”. You might not be ready to go to sleep, or you might really need to finish a chapter of your favorite book. So, here are some helpful tips on how to extend lights out time underneath the covers.

light dilution: In order to not be caught in trying to extend the curfew, you have to make sure to dilute the light behind either a blanket or a sheet of paper, so that it is not a spot light.


Reading is very easy to do after lights out since you can read on your side and point the flashlight away from the cabin.

crafting You can also try to continue making lanyards or bracelets after lights out time. To secure it under the sheets, you can put the loop of string on one of your toes.

FINDING COMFORT IN UNFAMILIAR

reading


V ery

bad day

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

ADDENDUM TO ARRIVAL (P.2)

At the beginning of is guidebook, I mentioned that the first days are always the worst. This is true in the sense that the first days introduce you to the most amount of challenges that you will have to navigate, and everything is new at this time. But, there will be days that feel even worse, and it makes your environment and space worse a well. In those moments, try and take some time to provide some rest and treat yourself. Revisit some of the suggestions from “Quality Time with You” (p. 22) for some ideas.

28


lake fish not pool fish

W ater

activities 29

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Water activities are a shining beacon of light in any camp experience. Whether its in a lake or pool, splashing around can relieve a lot of stress and is very fun. Always remember to bring goggles with you where ever you end up going swimming. Lake and pool water can burn eyes like nothing else, and you might be able to see some cool stuff in the water with them!


e

X it

strategy

AN ORGANIZED DEPARTURE

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

to-do list

When you are approaching the date you are supposed to leave, it’s very cathartic. A lot of worries like, are my parents going to look different, will all of my friendship bracelets fit in my luggage, how will my parents recognize me with how much I grew this past month (about 1 giant inch), start racing through your head. With all of these thoughts running around your head, you may get overwhelmed with the amount you have to do to pack up. Something that may help this is coming up with a list of things you need to do to make sure the moving out process is as stressfree as possible. this space  Use to plan out some of the things you need to do in order to have a successful departure.

30


Y ou’re FINALLY

here

You’ve made it! Your bags are packed, you’ve said your goodbyes, and the car is pulling away from camp! The first words I said to my family when I saw them were, “Hi, could we please leave now?” Your first words might have the same sentiment, or they are hopefully more positive.

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The car ride home is something to look forward to in itself. You’ll be able to finally tell your family all about your past few weeks in person. You can tell them all of the crazy things you saw, all of the difficult moments you persevered in. Most importantly, you can gift them their very own friendship bracelet.


Z zzzzzzzzzzz

Also, you might be able to look back on your journey and see some beautiful moments through the difficulty. I still remember the counselors who showed me a lot of kindness, the crafts that I learned and the friends I made a long the way. You can take away some funny stories and helpful tips to impart on those who may be in your shoes next summer. completely normal to go to * It’s sleep the moment you get through the door. You had an exhausting few weeks, so enjoy the rest and sweet dreams of yummy s’mores!

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z

That is the sound of your first sleep back home in the familiar. You can rest knowing that you have persevered and made it through! Remember to be proud of yourself, and see this as a success. It may feel weird being back in your house and your bed since you haven’t been there in so long. Things look smaller, the scent of your house is more pungent, and it’s difficult to sleep without the outdoor noises lulling you to bed. But just like getting use to camp, it will take some time for this to feel normal again.

zz

THE A-Z OF SLEEP AWAY CAMP

YOUR FIRST SLEEP BACK HOME


zz

zz z zz

zz

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z

zz

zzz

zz zzzz z


Designed, Illustrated, and Written by Jacky Lococo Typeset in: Courier Prime Regular Courier Prime Italic Work Sans Regular Ophelia Text Printed on French Paper, Pink Lemonade Photo & Camp Letter generously provided by Filomena Lococo’s Family Archive and Collection Special thanks to Sleep-Away Camp for the memories