Well friends, I am officially homesick. Or, to be more precise, I have finally realised that I am homesick. It’s not something I am particularly used to feeling-one more thing pulling me outside of my comfort zone. I used to think that one would outgrow things like this. That homesickness was something my ten-year-old campers would feel, rather than the coaches. It’s hubris like that which makes the days long and saps my energy until I feel like little more than a walking cabbage with anxiety wearing a smile. Ever since I came to the realisation that I miss my bed, my diet, my sleep schedule, things have gotten a little bit easier.
If only my campers would come to the same conclusion, and they will. They are troopers, they really are. In my group there are two ten year olds who have never left home before and spent most of our first day clammed up, not smiling, and speaking very little English. It was hard to not be able to console them, tell them everything was going to be OK, and promise them that they would enjoy camp!
But something has changed, now, on day two. Some switch flipped. And although we can still hardly understand each other, we can still toss a Frisbee back and forth.
When we can toss a Frisbee back and forth we can smile and cheer for each other.
When we praise each other we can laugh together.
When we can laugh together we can high five each other.
When we can high five each other we can create team handshakes.
When we create team handshakes we can create team names.
When we build teams at Camp Ultimate Peace, we are actually building families.
I hope my campers learn that it’s OK to feel scared, lonely, or homesick because you can always keep trying, keep throwing, and keep connecting. Maybe our forehands aren’t crisp and can’t quite make it to chest height yet, but they are still forehands. We can’t speak the same language yet, but we still love throwing backhands to one another. Our backgrounds and histories might be different but we still love to give each other high fives. We belong.
I am sure that my campers still miss their homes, their families, their routines. I am sure that I still miss mine. But maybe, just maybe, they have learned the secret that when you are around these people, when you are in this place, you always belong because you are home. I certainly have.