When was the last time you did something that made your heart race? My mind goes back to my adventures during summer camp. We would spend the week sleeping in bunk beds and eating cafeteria scrambled eggs each morning, singing songs by the campfire, and seeing who could stay up the latest each night. The best part of the day was learning to rappel down the side of a cliff. Trusting someone else with the safety ropes while you leaned back to walk down the rock face somehow brought everything else into perspective.
Summer camp made my daughter’s heart race, but for completely different reasons. As a shy second-grader, it was a daunting experience to be away from home for a week and to be brave enough to participate in every activity while meeting new people. Without electronics or the Disney Channel, she got in lots of exercise and learned new skills like riding a horse and baking chocolate chip scones. She also had a chance to miss her parents and write us a few letters. She became more confident each summer and eventually spent a summer during college working at that same camp.
Although for an educator, May can be a little frantic, I would be remiss if I didn’t give you a nudge to make a plan to work the benefits of summer camp into your summer sabbatical. Maybe all of these ideas won’t work for you, but consider incorporating as many as possible. You owe it to next year’s students and teachers but you especially owe it to yourself.
Mark Off Your Calendar
If you haven’t already, schedule and record a vacation on your calendar to keep those days sacred. It may be a “real” vacation out of town or it may just be a few days to lay low at home, because all of us need a chance to refresh and recharge before August sneaks up on us once again. Putting those days on the calendar also gives us something to look forward to. Sometimes the anticipation of a vacation is almost as exciting as the break itself.
Get Off the Grid
It’s hard to believe, but the world will keep spinning if we step away and disconnect for a time. Let the important people know your plans and then turn off the phone, step away from the television, and disengage from social media for all or at least part of your vacation. You might realize you don’t miss it as much as you thought you would.
Learn Something for Yourself
You likely have a collection of professional journals and books piling up on your desk or your nightstand, but consider learning something just for yourself this summer. It might be taking a cooking class, installing an app to learn a new language, or watching a YouTube™ video to learn how to play a few chords on the piano or guitar. Not only is it fun, it’s also a way to keep the perspective of being a student and letting our brain grow some new dendrites.
Connect with Others
We spend much of our school life working closely with a small number of people. Look for opportunities to meet someone new who has a shared interest or reconnect with someone you don’t see as often as you’d like. See this as an opportunity to stay connected to the world beyond being a science administrator.
Get out of your usual routine and focus on friends, fun, and rejuvenation. It’s just good for the soul. Remember to avoid poison ivy, use sunscreen, and always swim with a buddy. How are you going to get your heart beating a little faster? My plan is to carry on a conversation in Spanish. ¡Disfruta tu verano! (Enjoy your summer!)