What I Learned In Summer Camp About Retirement

 An Essay About My Summer At Camp

I never went to summer camp until I retired.  This year that changed. I taught art classes to young kids at day camp.  Since the start of every school year begins with an essay about what you did over the summer, here’s mine: “What I Learned In Summer Camp About Retirement.”

Besides never having gone to camp as a kid, there were other “firsts” for me this summer:

  • This was the first time I trained to be a camp counselor.     
  • My first time for teaching art classes to kids.
  • Definitely the first time anyone ever called me, “Miss Deb.”

I’m not sure what was more challenging. Playing tag and learning camp songs with the counselors or cleaning up wiggly kids after splatter painting. Tag became easier over time once my fellow counselors learned I was an easy target. I quickly discovered I was no competition for speedy 18-20 year olds and was more than willing to get tagged out. I will say, cleaning up kids never did get easier.                                                               

Why Mom And Dad Sent You To Camp

Parents send their kids to camp for a variety of reasons.  First, there’s the sense of community and belonging they develop from being part of group. Also important is the development of creative expression from singing silly songs, doing crafts and playing games. Finally, there’s the physical activity that encourages developing stamina, balance and coordination.

The reality is, you never grow out of needing these things in your life. They’re not just for kids. You need them as an adult and especially as a retired adult.

What I Learned In Summer Camp About Retirement: Community

After you retire and leave your work group, you’ll need to develop a new support network. Whether or not you truly like the people you work with, they do represent a community. Your daily interactions create a sense of belonging and a bond. Once you retire, the connections disappear. Sure, you’ll stay friendly with some but you still won’t see them everyday. Ultimately, once you’re retired, you’ll want to establish a new group of people who share your interests.

It’s been a while since I was part of a work group. As someone who retired and now works alone, I don’t have much of a community anymore.  I’ll admit, it’s lonely sometimes.   Being part of the camp counselor group reminded me of how rewarding it feels when you’re  part of something bigger than yourself.   

What I Learned In Summer Camp About Retirement: Creativity

Once you officially become an adult, you tend to lose your sense of silly. Life gets serious and so do you. Sometimes you just need to let go of your funk and get your fun on. Do a few camp songs, a little painting with your hands and all of a sudden you’re having fun and feeling creative.

Expressing yourself creatively allows you to see things differently and appreciate new ways of looking at your world. Being creative in retirement is a necessity. You can plan your life but things have a tendency to work out differently than you expect. When you practice using creative solutions, you’ll be more flexible  when life takes a different turn than you anticipated.

Teaching art was definitely not what I expected when I explored being a camp counselor. However, it turned out to be the perfect activity for me.  I was looking for a something new to do this summer and something I’d never done before.  Teaching art certainly fit into that category and was a real wake-up call for my creative thinking. Just by using some renewed creative mojo, I was motivated to develop a new concept for my website, take my coaching business in a different direction and established a local women’s friendship group.

What I Learned In Summer Camp About Retirement: Activity

Maintaining some level of physical activity as you age is essential for enjoying  retirement. Everyone’s capability is different but the bottom line is, you’ve got to keep moving. Even better if you can have a little fun doing whatever feels right to you. As a camp counselor,  I discovered aching muscles, a serious lack of coordination and a complete inability to connect with any sort of rubber ball. Despite all that, I appreciated  how much more fun physical activities can be when you just join in and don’t fuss over ability.  It was wonderful being active again . It motivated me to  sign up for Zumba and yoga classes at my gym.

What I Learned In Summer Camp About Myself

I will say, summer camp taught me a lot. I’ll give it an A+ for the overall experience and a high five for fun.   It reminded me about the  importance of community, creativity and physical activity. Summer camp was a great reminder to keep all of  them in my retired life.

I the end,  I know I got more out of camp than the kids did from my art classes. Please help Miss Deb keep that a big secret from all the moms and dads.

People of all ages struggle to live a more meaningful life, but the struggle to identify a meaningful retirement is very real. Working with a certified retirement coach can help you frame what’s important to you and how to work towards it in order to find a meaningful life in retirement. Please contact us if you would like to discuss your journey and how we can help.

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