CAMP – and How it Shaped My Career
It’s been 2 months since I’ve posted on my blog and time to get back into the swing of things. I tried everything to get motivated to post. I read, I listened to music, I had conversations with mentors, and even read a Motivation Guide …but nothing worked.
So I’m talking to my friend, Lisa, today, and we started talking about sleep away camp. If you’ve gone to camp, you’ll understand this post; if not, hopefully you’ll continue to read to see how something that’s only 15% of your life each year can shape who you become later in life.
I loved camp. When I first started getting panic attacks in college, a therapist told me to find a ‘safe place’ I could direct my thoughts when one started; my safe place – CAMP! The one place I had ALWAYS BEEN HAPPY!!!
So as Lisa and I were talking about our similar camp experiences (Color War, horney beetles, bug juice, Tetherball, Canteen, Socials, “Peggy’s porch”, the mess hall, “it’s your birthday…”, the alligators in the lake, the horse – black jack, Sadie Hawkins Day, TAPS, Zetta Burgers, Daytona beach, piercings, camp fires, sitting “OD”, clean up wheels, SING, writing on the ceilings, my first ‘hook up’, first kiss, making friends that would last a lifetime), it became clear to me how much of my life had been defined by my actions taken every summer.
I learned at age 8 that “winning” was the only thing. Being decent at sports, color war was the center of my universe. I quickly learned that competition was key to motivating me – and I also learned how to win. and lose. with dignity. I went from being decent at sports at ages 8 and 9 – to focusing my entire school year on getting better so I could “win” at camp the next summer. I learned dedication to a long term goal while gaining short term immediate gratification along the way. And sure enough, from ages 10 until college – I was “the best” athlete – and I saw how being “the best” allowed me to get away with, well….pretty much whatever I wanted.
This certainly translates into my career over the past decade. I quickly saw that sales was similar to Color War – just all year round. How fun that would be! I was in competition all year round, I could practice and learn to be ‘the best’ sales person, and if I was driving more revenue than anyone else I pretty much was left to my own devices. Pretty simple. And similar to looking forward to being a color war general, I was always looking forward to “my next step up” the corporate ladder into a higher level management role.
It was also at camp I learned how to negotiate. I vividly remember clean up time being right after breakfast…and I remember that pinwheel that moved one space each day so we always had a different cleaning job. I remember at first, getting in trouble for not cleaning / doing my job (not much has changed), but I also remember as I got older, I learned that I could “trade” my canteen tickets or the RAMEN noodles or Swiss miss under my bed so someone would clean for me. I hated to clean and I snuck in a ton of RAMEN. I learned how to cut deals by age 11. I don’t think I’ve cleaned since.
I learned how to interact with different types of people in all different settings. Another necessary skill for both sales and marketing executives – especially in today’s world. Not only did I always have my best friends in my bunk, but there was usually another group of girls I lived with who…well – we may not have liked them – but we all learned to live together. Many times they were foreign (I vividly remember hearing someone ask if our camp had turned into EPCOT), and so many of the counselors were from Europe – we were exposed to differences at such an early age; we lived with them and thought differences were normal…I still think that way…
“Oh Universe Fair and true – in our hearts we belong to you…as the campers of the past did too – and they love you though they are gone….”