Cries of, “I don’t want to be here!” and “Why?” stir the Olin air; restless, kicking tantrums mark the gravel of Middle Path; hands and jowls are left sticky and unwashed after copious amounts of fruit snacks. “Finals,” we grumble, but I see childish beginnings. We’re filling our noggins with knowledge that will ideally lead us to a successful adulthood, but it’s clear that our social graces and customs can’t keep up, rendering us no more than big, hairy kids in a year-long sleepaway camp.
I, like many others, spend my summers as a counselor waving my arms and shout-singing for the sake of the children. And though I am far from the first to draw comparisons between Kenyon and summer camp, it feels especially fitting in this time of desperation to look back on some sun-soaked memories and realize that perhaps we are not so far from happiness as we imagine! There are elements of that childhood escape all around us, let’s check ’em out:
Wildlife: My summer camp is also in rural Ohio, so the bug scene here is remarkably similar. You wouldn’t believe the summer vibes I felt when I had to catch a wolf spider in my dorm room the other day!
Activities: Camp’s got Arts and Crafts, Kenyon’s got accidentally tie-dyeing clothes with bleach in the Watson laundry room. Camp’s got kayaking, Kenyon’s got canoeing through the middle path puddles after a big rain. Wow, it’s like the Ascension heaters are actually blowing out August sunlight!
Instant Camaraderie: Makin’ friends, keepin’ the old, designatin’ one as silver, the other gold. After making eye contact through tears three quarters of the way through an econ exam, the instantaneous friendship of two once-strangers is akin to that of bunkmates on the first day of camp. So go ahead, slip on another friendship bracelet, I think I can hear the campfire cracklin’!
Temperature Regulation: Yeah yeah, many buildings on campus don’t have dependable air conditioning. But in the beginning of the year, as you sit in class and the sweat drips down your back and into the waistband of your mom jeans, don’t you remember the way everything in your cabin always felt kind of damp? Summer fun!
Social Pressure: At my camp, everything built up to a big dance on the patio to celebrate the end of the week. At the last Motown concert, the nervous bob-dancing of the crowd was exactly like that of children in polo shirts who hover near the edge of the crowd and know they’re supposed to be dancing but have no idea how. Ah, yes, can you hear it too? The whisper of June fireflies!