Campsick Season: Symptoms of Missing The Heart

Rachel and J-Co

Campsick: adjective / kamp – sɪk / A chronic condition that involves intense longing to be back at summer camp. Symptoms include day dreaming, unprovoked singing, long winded reunion plans, friendship bracelet making, continuous “you just had to be there” stories, and mini trunk “dry practice” (you had to be there)!

During my parents tour of Heart O’ the Hills in 1999, they were promised that I would be singing camp songs by Christmas. Christmas came with 8-year-old me screaming Ann Marie and Weenie Man at the top of my lungs. My sister followed me to camp a few years later and like clockwork, when others started singing jingle bells and decorating Christmas trees, we were teaching our baby brother Sunday songs and dreaming of cypress trees.

A new year means a new summer!

My parents always joke that after Christmas is the start of “camp season”. As I got older, singing songs with my sister turned into war canoe prep, which turned in to phone calls of reminiscing until the early hours of the morning, which turned into New Year ’s Eve reunions with my camp friends. But no matter how old we got, Christmas would hit and “campsickness” would ensue.

When this pandemic started, I desperately needed a new solo hobby. So I decided to teach myself to play the ukulele (it’s not the guitar… but we can’t all be Jane Ragsdale) . When I arrived home for the holidays (after a year away) I pulled out my uke to show off my new skills. I was one song in when my sister’s eyes lit up and she said, “do you know any camp songs?” Gathered around the Christmas tree in our mid/late twenties, we sat there and belted songs that are now all too familiar in our household. Walking by, (and giggling) my dad said, “they told us this would happen.”

People are always quick to think about homesickness when considering sleepaway camp. But it never crosses their mind is what happens after.

Campsickness is the side effect of a summer spent growing, learning, laughing, and being present. Camp isn’t home. It’s sillier, weirder, hotter, and dirtier. It’s a home base, a second home. Camp is a place everyone thrives, is themselves, and reboots back to factory settings.

So What’s The Cure?

Feeling campsick is real and easily transmitted this time of year! So be aware, sing songs, touch base with friends. Craft, and prep for summer. However, the only cure I have found in my 20 years of living with this condition is to just wait until June. So let the waiting begin. <3 J-Co

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