By: Devin Riggs, Regular ContributorJuly 17, 2015
I love camp. Camp is one of my favorite places. Camp is a place I call home. To me, it’s not just a place to play. It’s a place to work hard and push yourself. It’s not just a place to sleep. It’s a place to rest without worry. It’s not just a place to lose yourself in reckless abandonment. It’s a place to find yourself. It’s not just a place to meet new people. It’s a place to make lifelong friends.
To me, camp is hallowed ground.
image via westmisummercamps.org
At the camps I worked, instead of using a predetermined set of rules made by the staff, the campers create a set of standards and values for themselves to live by for the duration of their time at camp. These values include, but are not limited to, respect, kindness, adventure, integrity, sister/brotherhood, or even hakuna matata. Each staff member and camper commits to this Code of Living and is held up to its standards throughout the summer.
What makes the Code of Living so important is that it’s not just about what you do or how you behave at camp. It carries over into your life at home and at school and in your relationship with the world itself. You carry it with you every day, in everything you do.
At camp they talk a lot about what the code means—as a tradition, as a guiding principle, and how it impacts each individual differently. To me, the code is a promise; a promise to wake up each day and be the best version of myself; a promise to be gentler to myself and others; a promise to be brave and take chances; a promise to be steadfast and loyal; a promise to be honest; a promise to make each day and each moment count.
Every time I go back to visit camp, I am reminded of that promise, of the commitment I’ve made.
Because some days I need a reminder. It’s an ongoing and challenging promise to make the world a better and kinder place. Some days it’s difficult to gain perspective and accept mistakes as valuable lessons and not get bogged down by the negativity we face on a daily basis.
Regardless of what makes up any Code of Living (and there is endless possibility really), the purpose is the same. What are the characteristics of your best self? How can you make a strong positive impact on the world around you? What can you offer the world that no one else can? How can you be your most authentic self?
The Code of Living has taught me that even in times of struggle and despair, I have something to give, those times especially. It has taught me that kindness and honesty work hand in hand no matter what. And it has taught me that failure happens, but it does not define me. Each day is a fresh start to be the best version of myself, and for that lesson I will always be grateful for summer camp.
Have you ever been to summer camp? What did you learn from it? Tell us below!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.