Featured Image: Point O’ Pines Camp for Girls. Brant Lake, NY Adirondacks. Credit: Brandon Himoff
For many, the word “summer” connotes travel to the beach and family barbeques. For my friend Anna and myself, the word is reminiscent of a childhood euphoria known as sleep-away camp. Our summers involved travel, yes, but only one four-hour bus trip up to its location in the Adirondacks and one to return us to our open-armed parents. Once at camp, the word “summer” was defined by constant activity as campers abided by schedules replacing family barbeques with Thursday night cookouts and beach days with daily trips to the dock for Swim Instruction. Anna and I spent seven summers cherishing the stereotypical sleep-away camp motto of “living ten months for two.” The thing with Anna and my friendship is that we’ve always been confined to two months of together time: growing up in separate states, attending distant colleges, and living in different post-grad cities. Yet in these past years of concerted friendship, we’ve remained equally as devoted to constant activity, perhaps in nostalgia of our days as campers or maybe due to our type-A personalities, and have learned that our limited time required more planning on our part, especially sans-counselors.
While in college, Anna and I learned to master our three-month vacation. In doing so, we became somewhat of our own counselors, planning a breadth of weekly activities to make the most of our time outside the library and, most importantly, together. The first summer after freshman year, Anna and I frustratingly tried to manage communication between Facebook-messaging articles titled “Ice Cream Tours of New York” to texting inquisition like “Have you ever been to the Met?” And just before our frustration hit an apex, we streamlined our ideas, links, and comments to a “Summer Bucket List” and became the most efficient adult-campers out there…
… and so can you! With a little determined planning, involving—fair warning—some light reading, social-media stalking, and a computer, you can “travel” back to those sweet summer days of Fudgesicles and, well, camp. You think you’ve got it?
1) “Dear Google, Thank you for Google Docs. Sincerely, everybody.” I’d like to take a moment to thank my mother, my father, and Google…just kidding. But seriously, the innovation of a program that allows users to collaborate with others in real-time is genius. So, let’s make use of it! With the breadth of communication today, it’s sometimes, moreover usually, hard to focus on one thread of conversation. Take advantage of this group-friendly tool and start making to-do lists, ideas for activities, etc. Trust me, this will be far more efficient than attempting to make plans in a group text. Have you seen those Instagrams mocking such efforts?
2) Research without the Dewey Decimal System. This isn’t your college library so stop sweating upon just seeing the word research. There will not be a required works cited at the end of this assignment. There will, however, be a must-do list of must-sees just simply by employing our good friend, the Internet. Looking for the best places to kayak on the Hudson River? Type away. Looking for the best bars for a certain age? Type away. But don’t get lazy! When sites come up, don’t just click the first and call it quits. Keep up clicking and reading with the same determination you had with those finals-time all-nighters that you still wish to forget.
3) Follow for follow. Okay, so maybe these Insta-famous celebrities won’t follow you back but they’re Insta-famous for a reason. Use social media for your advantage instead of tagging your friends in the latest @thefatjewish rosé-drinking picture. Bypass the user’s perfectly Amaro-filtered shots and click on the location tag. Instead of asking why he got so many likes when you could’ve sworn your suburban sunset photo was just as good, question where is this, why did he go here, and should I? Maybe with a snap from the given locale, you too can get 100+ likes…maybe.
4) Sign up for newsletters. I hear you when you say the last thing you want is another frivolous email in your inbox; I, too, regret giving J.Crew all of my email address. That being said, there are actually useful, fun-filled emails that don’t read “Flash Sale” and follow the monotony of your family discussing a recent NYT article. Get your name on letters that focus both of city-specific activities and are themed for food, bars, etc. The more concentrated these emails are, the more likely they will appeal to you and, ergo, the more likely you are to read them.
5) Don’t think too much. What made the days of summer camp and ice-pops as picture-perfect as we remember them was the easy simplicity of it all: the fluidity of a fearless jump into the chilly lake, the novel thrill of making a ceramic vase on the wheel, and the sweat-dripping success of a soccer goal all are engrained in our memories in such light because we didn’t belabor them to pieces. We simply sprung into the lake. We didn’t stand over the murky water, contemplating how Michael Phelps would dive downwards. The same follows for these activities. Remember that even the simplest DIY project from Paper Source or the basic Ina Garten baked goods can bring back the quintessential, easy fun of summer camp days.
Although Labor Day has come and gone claiming the end of summer, warm days and late sunsets still await. Take advantage of the lingering warmth before winter takes over, savoring the last hours of sunshine as if you were a teenager fighting the impending play of nighttime “Taps.” And while you’re at it, be sure to check out these sites for constant inspiration!