I’m a big fan of opening days.
The energy the staff have in the morning, knowing another incredible session is around the corner. The last walkie calls up the mountain as the first cars are in line to confirm that everyone is in place. The yells of counselors as the first cars round the corner into each camp.
They all give the day a feeling of possibility.
But what I like most is seeing the different campers come through the front gate. Seeing friends we know, friends we’re about to know, and campers connecting is always just right.
Opening days look different this year, but those elements still hold the same, year after year.
One thing that can be tricky on opening days is homesickness.
After those first few hours of fun and activities, when the evening rolls around, that’s when homesickness can start to set in.
Fun fact: homesickness is another one of my favorite parts of opening days, and it’s because of all the growth it represents. As the counselor walks with the camper, and helps him process what he’s feeling, you can see wonderful moments as the young man starts to feel better.
He doesn’t feel better because he’s “over it,” “sucking it up,” or just “powering through.”
No, the growth happens as he realizes that it’s normal. That it’s okay, and that he can feel that way and still have fun. When you see the shoulders move back, and the head come up… as the young man realizes that he can do this, that he has friends around, and a whole staff that’s here for him: that’s when you know he’s going to be just fine.
Because right then, he doesn’t just know what to do right then; he knows what to do if he still feels this way a bit tomorrow, and when he’s nervous at school, and when he has moments of doubt.
He knows that feeling that way makes sense, that he can take a deep breath, and that he can move towards whatever comes next.
In this case, what comes next is an incredible amount of fun. After games, swim checks, council, the full camp photo, and getting to know the cabin, we get to move towards tomorrow, and the first full day of skills.