How Summer Camp Changed My Life

‘We create our own sunshine’ is a phrase that will stick with me forever

When I went to camp, my life was pretty much a mess. I had just scraped through my second year of uni, with terrible attendance. I was struggling badly with PTSD, wasn’t sleeping, socialising and generally was not very enthusiastic about life.

The day I arrived was pretty overwhelming.  Everyone was so enthusiastic and seemed genuinely excited to meet me, and they made me feel at home straight away.

A huge issue for me was sharing a room with someone I didn’t know, in fact, just sharing a room at all. The first few nights weren’t great. I laid in bed until a stupid time on the odd chance my roommate wasn’t asleep. She was lovely, but the PTSD was mind-boggling. I spent two days absolutely knackered, until the third morning where I couldn’t take it anymore, I wanted to leave. If it wasn’t for two amazing people, I would have left and I’m pretty sure I would have regretted it massively. I completely broke down and told them what had happened, what you did to me. It was the first time I had said it out loud, but they were amazing. They organized for me to have my own room, which I couldn’t be more grateful for.

After that, I started to come out of my shell. I went from the first few days of not wanting to get involved with the singing and dancing, to being ok with making a complete fool out of myself in front of a big group of people and laughing it off. I was genuinely happy. I went from not being able to speak in front of half a dozen people at uni, to speaking in front of 198 kids and over 40 counsellors at the awards night.

It’s safe to say the happiness and positivity from all the other counsellors and the staff, was contagious. Even when the weather was awful, we had a blast.  As the camp director would say ‘we create our own sunshine’. I grew to realise that these overly excited and enthusiastic people were my sort people, I could be who I wanted to be without any judgement.

Camp also helped me start to battle my anxiety around football. For the first two sessions I was coaching it, every weekday morning for 3 hours. I was the only female, which I was surprisingly comfortable with.  I had a small blip after the first two sessions, when football became too much (see previous post) and the amazing management team moved me to a different role.

For 7 weeks, I was in a little bubble, detached from the ‘real’ world, detached from my problems and for most of the time, technology.  The PTSD shrunk into the background, I still had the odd nightmare but for most part of 7 weeks, I slept, for the first time in over a year.

Leaving camp was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, the genuine sadness that I might not see some people again, or that It could be a whole year until I do. The fact that I had to go home and face my problems again, go back to uni and the possibility that the PTSD would flare up.

I started a new year of uni with a completely different frame of mind. I went from not really attending to not missing a lecture for nearly a whole semester. As one of my lecturers put it; I was on fire.  My grades went back up, and I was enjoying being at uni again.  Although that only lasted a semester and January through til April was incredibly hard again, what got me through is knowing that before I know it, I will be back at camp, back with amazing people and back having the time of my life.

After camp, I overcame my fear of flying so I could visit one of the kindest humans I’ve ever met, and in 2 weeks I’m flying, on my own to Prague to work for 10 days which I could only ever of dreamed of doing before summer camp.

I’ve made friends for life, people I am genuinely honoured to call friends, and that I cannot wait to see in 54 days.

 

 

 

 

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