Sayonara, Sweet Summer Camp

andrew liefOne of the hardest things people have to decide in life is when to walk away from something they’re passionate about.

People are forced to do this everyday.  Whether they retire from their job or stop partaking in their favorite hobby.  It’s a difficult decision to make.

There are many factors one needs to consider when making this life-changing decision. The factors range from one’s age to health to family, and so much more.

As a sports fan, the most notable retirement that comes to mind is that of Michael Jordan, who retired twice from the Bulls and then made a surprising decision to return to the league as a member of the Wizards a few years later.

I was forced to make my own life-changing decision on Oct. 28.  Days before I, along with my co-staff from last summer, received a text message from one of the assistant directors at the sleep away camp I’ve attended for the last 12 summers.  He commended us for how well we did last summer and told us to reach out to him about next summer.

Up until this point every year we’ve discussed the upcoming summer; it’s always been a no-brainer that I’d be returning to camp.

But this year, that wasn’t the case.

Besides my family, camp is the thing that has influenced my life the most. Camp is where I learned that what you put into something is what you’ll get out of it.

It’s a children’s camp, so a lot of the events are created with the intention of entertaining the younger kids.

As you get older, it’s natural not to get excited about these types of events. But the great thing about camp is regardless of the situation, if you go into it with the mindset that 99 out of 100 times it will be fun.

Camp is where I made friends that I know I will have for life. I know that sounds cliché, and if you haven’t experienced camp you’re probably rolling your eyes, but it’s true.

The people I was fortunate enough to become friends with are some of the best people I’ve ever met.  They will be there for you no matter what and always provide a fun time when you are together. Camp is where one learns to make sacrifices.

As fun as camp is, a lot of sacrifices are made from the life one lives at home. There is no air conditioning (unless you’re one of the lucky few), so you wake up in a puddle of sweat from the tremendous heat.

Also, with the way the world pretty much runs on technology now, it’s a major adjustment for someone to not have their device on them at all times.

Overall, camp is the best.

That’s why when I told the assistant director that I couldn’t return for this summer, I felt terrible. But, ultimately, I was content with the decision.

I knew it was my time to call it a career.  I had an amazing 12-year run, but returning this summer just wasn’t the best thing for me.

All of my friends weren’t returning this summer and last summer I had such an amazing time working side-by-side with my best friends.  I felt this summer wouldn’t live up to the standard of camp I set over the years and I didn’t think I should commit to something I wasn’t fully behind.

I thought about this long and hard, and even made a list of the reasons I thought I couldn’t return this summer just to make sure I was making the right choice.

But, overall, here’s a lesson for all of you kids out there: As difficult as it may be for you to make a life-changing decision, it’s important to not give in because of what other people are saying to make you change your mind. Do what you think is best because it’s your life and what’s most important is how you feel about your decision.