What does summer mean to you?
Do you picture swimming, popsicles, camp, road trips, and family vacations? Do you feel that sense of possibility and magic every June?
I know I did growing up. Summer was a magical time that was uniquely distinct from the rest of the seasons. Summer time seemed different from any other time – it almost was suspended. Summer to me meant sisterhood, freedom, independence, and pine trees.
As part of my personal storybook, the chapters of childhood summers are the ones I like to read over and over again.
In terms of summers, I was the luckiest girl I can imagine. From the ages of 10-18, I went to a summer camp in Maine. I met some of my best friends there, learned how to canoe and chop wood, and gained immeasurable confidence. If you know anything about me, you know that camp summers were a pivotal point in my story.
Whether you went to camp or went on a family vacation or learned a new skill during the summer, childhood summers are special and unfortunately, fleeting.
As adults, often we lose our sense of the summer story. Summers honestly don’t look much like they did when we were kids. Jobs march on, regardless of the season, and the only difference sometimes is that August is a slow summer month in the office. Now it is indeed August, and it seems like I have barely noticed summer. Instead of time slowing down, I’ve been trying to fit more into less time. This summer has been more about beating the heat and staying inside with the AC than enjoying nature and being with friends.
It’s almost as if, as adults, we feel we have to step aside and sit our summer stories out so that a new generation can commence on their summer journey.
Even though my story this summer has been quite different, when I think about that special summer camp, I know that so many young women have written some amazing stories this summer. Some of them have passed levels in activities that meant so much to them. Some of them have made friends that will be there throughout their entire lives. Some of them have taken their first big canoeing trip and have amazing stories to tell. Some of them have felt at home in the woods for the very first time. I know these stories by heart, because I’ve lived them all.
In a long line of women who have been a part of this summer camp story, even though our individual stories are unique, the themes and genres are the same.
This upcoming weekend, I have a chance to revisit some of my favorite chapters of my summer story. The camp is celebrating the 100th anniversary, 100 years of summer stories, all within the same family. I’ll get to reunite with some of my dearest friends, my former counselors and my former campers when I was a counselor (who are now counselors themselves), and I’ll get to play in the lake and sing those old camp songs. Most importantly, each and every woman who attends this reunion will have similar stories to share. We all experienced these magical summers, even though some summers were years apart.
Thinking about summer stories, I’ve also resolved to not let the rest of my summer feel like any other season of the year. There's enough room in this book for everyone to have their own summer story.
Even though I’ll be in Philly and not Maine after this upcoming weekend, I’m determined to change my story of the summer. I’ll take my friend up on her offer to test out her new canoe, grill plenty with friends, slow down a bit, and savor the little bit of summer I have left.
In the comments below, I would love to hear the answer to my original question: What does summer mean to you?