Self-Care & Summer Camp: How Our Kids Can Embrace Their Best
A few nights ago, as I looked up from the mirror, minty kaolin mask on my face, I stopped and wondered: if we take the time, to care for our skin, nourish our bodies, grow them in a way that lends itself to health and joy, why then, wouldn’t we do the same when choosing a summer camp for our children?
Stay with me.
Magnanimity is best defined as being of great mind and heart. It rejects pettiness and embraces danger for the purposes of being noble. Generous. Kind. Charitable. Every day we wear a multitude of masks. In classes, the mask covers smirks or smudges out worry. Walking down the street, we layer on armour to shut out urban vulnerability, personal anxieties, anxt. At the dinner table, in our homes, in the dance studio or on the rugby pitch, we present mask after mask. We outfit our personas, as young people, as parents, as students, as leaders. Masks clog our pores, shield us from toxins, they lift us up, they seep into our skin, until….we aren’t sure where they/we begin, how to dissolve the clay. And when we do, we hope for glow. We hope for fresh perspective and a feeling, like new. Like summer bloom. Like, whoa, this is everything, everything.
So, it fits, as I lend peppermint oil to my overtly exhausted pores, waiting for the tingle, I think: where would I most want to be? Clearly: somewhere I can peel away the soot & tarnished clank of every day. And just be, me. Raw & exposed, but wholly myself. I’d want the way I laughed to be held under the moonlight just so. I’d want to meet others who felt they could dance in unicorn pajamas. We’d eat together, and live in the summer light that would carry away that worry, learning what it was to love ourselves and be alive in our 10th or 12th or 16th year. And together, we’d glow, be simply, us. Them. They. He. She. Every single person would identify simply as gloaming.
Camp Hawkeye remixes balm & space to make the summer a camper’s own. The slighing slope of Red Hill gives breath, lighting up the mid-summer sun’s path to the cabins (those reflective & cozy spaces where camper’s stories unfold), and sends our tiny camper’s home to continue to unpack what it is to live, authentically, healthfully, confidently. Sorted into tribes, bonded by unity, they extrapolate & exfoliate, together, their hurts & harms, and rejoice in the healings & hilarity, successes & undeniable dreams that they intend to conquer. In the flush of the closing campfire, leaders blossom and everyone, everyone flourishes equally in the star-shine.
We want the best for our bodies. And as our children are part and parcel of that body, and mind, and heart, so too do we want the very best for them. By extension, summer camp, Camp Hawkeye, can provide a place of self-care. It can be that respite. That slip beneath the forest ceiling that gives rise to what has long been buried beneath the surface: the face they love to recognize in the reflection of the lake. A place to slough off woes, self-preserve, simplify, and regrow. And with the sunwash of summer’s end, newness remains.
Confidence and community, friendship and fellowship, strength and lightness, to carry our children through the winter months. Give them something to hold onto when they must choose: should I reapply those old masks, or should I be magnanimous? Hold summer by the horns, let it carry me through the torrents that are rough riding?
- Jacey Blue Renner holds an MFA in Poetry from Lesley University. A recipient of the Harwood Emerging Artist Fund's Marion & Kathryn Crissey Award and a former guest poet for bentlily, her poetry has been published in the anthologies Looking Back to Place and Best of the Tupelo Press 30/30 Project 2013, among others. Most recently, you can find her poetry in O-Dark-Thirty, as part of the 2016 Tupelo Press 30/30 Project & included in a forthcoming collection of ekphrastic poetry drawn from photography of the Iraq War.