10 Life Lessons Sleepaway Camp Taught Me

1. How to pack. To fit everything in my trunk, I was taught to roll clothes up rather than fold them. It saved a ton of room. This helped me to pack in college and now helps me pack for all those vacations I go on… oh wait

2. How to live in close quarters with multiple people. One would think if you mastered living with 8 strangers/friends in a tiny cabin every summer, you would be equipped for the roommate situation college dorms bring. But no. It’s very different when you’re not taking activities, singing songs, and getting tan on a regular basis. Apparently, the idea of living in the same room with other people becomes less and less appealing as you get older…

3. Why Americans are so obese. They used to make us sing a song in the dining hall about finishing all of the food on our plates in order to keep the environment clean. I’m all for going green, but just because some server hands you a million french fries, doesn’t mean you have to eat them all (I try to tell myself this every time french fries appear). It’s all about portion control. And I care about my own body more than saving the planet. Sorry, Earth.

4. How to change an outfit without getting naked. Underwear and bra included. This comes in handy now when sleeping in unknown places and when in the gym locker room.

5. How to win people over. One word: Food. If you brought candy to camp, people would automatically have a reason to talk to you. And since you provided them with something they liked, they automatically liked you too. The same goes for real life situations, such as the workplace. Everyone loves the person who brings in free bagels and homemade cookies…

6. It is possible to be happy without a cell phone. Cell phones existed when I went to sleep away camp – I’m not that old. We just weren’t allowed to use them. Okay, I’ll admit – I remember breaking out my phone and going on mobile AIM a few nights (sorry parents for that phone bill), but I didn’t need the phone. I communicated with people through letters. And that was enough.

7. Water sports are not for everyone. After taking a week long sailing class two summers in row, I still managed to get stranded on a private island, capsize unintentionally multiple times, and hit my head on the bow or whatever it’s called. In addition to sailing, I also tried windsurfing (which I learned is much different than surfing, especially on a very calm lake), synchronized swimming (yes, my thoughts exactly), and tubing (which is extremely fun – if you don’t mind losing your bathing suit in a very large lake). Some people owned these “lake sports,” but others learned they are better off on dry land, tie-dying underwear and socks.

8. How to make Kraft Macaroni and Cheese in the woods. When we went on our so-called “overnights,” we brought sleeping bags and pillows into the woods. We would then place our stuff on a tarp, go out and find sticks, and make a fire. After, we would take out the Kraft Mac and Cheese and cook it over the fire. You would think we would make something more “outdoorsy” for dinner, but no. Now, I always keep a box of Kraft Mac and Cheese on me just in case I ever get hungry while stuck in the woods…

9. Not all friends are forever. Just like summers came and went, so did a lot of the friends I met along the way. Each summer, I would reunite with my “summer BFFs” who I hadn’t seen all year… and then quickly become BFFs with new people. I watched myself lose touch with many of these so-called BFFs through the years, not to see or hear from them ever again. Maybe things would have been different if Facebook was as much of a staple in our lives back then as it is now… but it wasn’t. So thank you Facebook for now letting us keep in touch with so many of our “BFFs-of-the-moment.” But deep down I know I wouldn’t remember half of the people I was friends with in college if it wasn’t for you.

10. In a group of people, there will always be one person that no one likes. Every summer, I would be placed in a cabin with 7 other girls. And in every cabin, there was always at least one girl that no one liked. Since it is human nature to make life as interesting as possible, we need to have at least one person to hate on in a group of people. That is why it was physically impossible to randomly group 8 girls together and have all of those girls like each other. I mean how boring would life be if everyone liked each other and never fought? Super boring. This was the case in elementary school, middle school, high school, and college… and now is also the case in the workplace. It might even be true in your family or group of “friends.” But instead of wishing for world peace and everyone to get along, embrace the fact that your life was and still is interesting…

Samantha Matt

Hi I’m Sam. I made this website in 2011 and it’s still going. My first book, AVERAGE IS THE NEW AWESOME, is coming out in January (you can buy it right now on Amazon or from your fave bookstore!). I like pizza, French fries, barre, spin, more pizza, more French fries, and buying clothes. Writing is fun. Follow me on twitter & Instagram at @samanthamatt1... and on this site's meme account on IG at @20somethingproblems. OKAY GREAT THANKS BYE.

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