Dealing with Post Camp Blues

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The last campers have left, the cabin is clean, you’ve said goodbye to your friends, you’re all packed up and ready to hit the road. Summer camp has been a blast but now it’s over. You’re relieved because you don’t have to deal with being sick every other week or being so tired that even your bones ache. Still, you know that you’re going to miss those campers, your fellow staff and all the memories that you’ve made with them. Now you’re headed back to your normal every day and it’s not going to be the same thing you were doing all summer long. You’ve got the post camp blues.

Guess what? You’re not alone.

Post-Camp blues is a real thing, and it really sucks. So, what can we do about it? Well, we’ve got some tried and true ideas that might work better than you think.

Acknowledge what you’re feeling.

It’s okay to be sad! In fact, if you had an enjoyable camp experience it is good to be sad and to realize that what happened was an awesome experience. Give yourself permission to feel down and provide time to process your emotions and feelings of loss. Take note though, acknowledging something doesn’t mean that you’re dwelling on it constantly. Your life still needs to be lived and the good times don’t end just because camp is over.

Stay connected with your people!

You’re going to miss the people that you’ve worked with. Lucky for you most people have phones nowadays. You might even be reading this on your phone as we speak. Make an effort to stay connected with your camp staff, campers and families. Call, text, schedule in person meet ups and get togethers. Find ways that you connect other than camp alone. (If you don’t have a phone or access to the internet, good ‘ol snail mail still works perfectly fine as well…)

Write it down.

This may seem like an obvious answer or something that a yoga guru might advise but journaling works. It helps you articulate exactly what you are feeling. Yes, you’re feeling sad that camp is over, but why? Is it because you miss your friends? Miss working with the kiddos? Miss all those short nights when you had “just a couple” more things to do before bed? Okay maybe not that last one but you get the picture, right? Knowing exactly why you’re feeling down is a great starting point to fill in things that you miss so much from camp.

Take care of yourself.

You might have told yourself that “during this summer I’m going to get up early and workout so I can be at my best.” Or maybe, “I’m going to prioritize getting eight hours of sleep every single night” or “I’m going to drink at least three Nalgenes worth of water a day.” And then camp happened. All your ideas were great! If you succeeded at all your goals, I applaud you! I will be in contact with you soon to learn how you did it and ask you to write a blog on the topic as well because that’s amazing! For most camp staff though, those goals quickly become faint memories as your body decides that the only way to push through is survival mode. Now camp is over though. It’s time to set a new schedule, make a new routine. Prioritize some much-needed recovery time. Rest, drink water, move your body, and eat well.

Set some goals.

Becoming camp staff may have been a goal for you for a while. Maybe as long ago as your first time going to summer camp as a camper. For others it may have been a decision that was made just weeks before orientation started. No matter how long you where planning on camp before it happened you have completed that goal and now it’s time to make some new goals. School may be coming up again, it’s time to start that new job, or travel to that one place you’ve wanted to go to for what seems like forever. Goals help provide purpose and direction after the camp season is over.

You’re not alone.

You aren’t the only person that’s sad about the end of camp. Fellow staff members are struggling too. Reach out to trusted family and friends. Let them know how you’re feeling. You are not required to figure it out alone. Share your concerns and feelings. Be open and honest about what’s going on in your head. Don’t be afraid to be real with yourself and seek professional help if what you’re feeling is more than the post camp blues.

Back to the basics.

You’ve got interests right? It may be underwater basket weaving, extreme ironing, or competitive duck herding whatever it is, get back to it! Camp took all of your energy and likely most of your free time. Now you’ve got so much time you aren’t quite sure what to do with it all. Get back to your hobbies, find a part-time job that aligns with your goals, or do volunteer work. The things that brought you joy before camp are probably still available to you. If you’re looking for something completely different pick up a new hobby or learn one with a camp friend.

Stay grateful and be positive.

Your brain listens to what you say to yourself. Sometimes more than you realize. If you are in a state of constant negativity or sadness your brain and therefore your body, take note. Realize the impact that you made on campers’ lives. Be thankful for the experiences that you were able to have and the friends that you were able to make. Yes, this summer was hard, but it was also an experience that taught you so much. Post camp blues have a harder time sticking around when you focus on the positive.

Get outdoors.

It’s likely that you have had a lot of time outdoors during your camp experience and it’s also likely that seeing the sunshine and feeling the warm summer breeze was extremely beneficial to your mental health. Guess what? You still have access to the outdoors. Grab your water, meet up with friends, turn your phone off and go for a hike, or maybe head to the beach, or have a picnic at your favorite park. Breathe some fresh air and connect with friends while soaking up the sun. It’ll do you good.

Plan for next summer!

Guess what?! I have great news! Summer camp happens every year! Feel free to rejoice! You can let your director know that you have enjoyed your experience and plan to be back next year. Have you aged out of being camp staff? Ask about returning as a guest speaker, ask about a camp leadership role, get involved in the nitty gritty and logistics of running camp. The summer is over but camp still goes on!

You’re on the right track!

Ta Da! Ten ways to help your post camp blues. Hopefully you’ve found some ways to help transition back to your everyday experience. Remember that a period of emotional adjustment and transition is normal and expected. Take care of yourself and know that the post camp blues will be resolved. The next camp season is closer than you think!

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