When I picked up my son from summer camp two years ago, he never looked so full.  There is no other word for it, full.  Full of life, energy, love, enthusiasm,  and confidence. If I could have bottled it up and saved it for a later time, I would have. While he will always have this memory, and hopefully the memories of more exciting summer camps to come, the truth is that these moments gets quickly absorbed by life. Clean your room, brush your teeth, don’t pick on your sisters.  In a couple weeks these summer camp feelings are fleeting.  As we were preparing (paying) for his upcoming summer camp, I was thinking about how this relates to adult working life where summer camps are long gone. In place of summer camps we get business conferences.  Some of them are very engaging and well done and we get back to the office feeling “full.” I think there might be some suggestions from camp counselors that we can put into practice at these conferences.

If you could still go to summer camp, would you?  Now that you have all of this life experience, what would you do differently upon returning from summer camp to keep the summer camp feeling, or at least maximize that strong influence in your life?  There are a couple of things that my son’s counselor suggested to him that helped him turn the summer camp experience into a longer lasting and maybe even life changing event. The first and most important thing was to get contact information for fellow campers that he grew close to.  My daughter went last year as well and still mentions girls names, what they were wearing, and what they were saying.  She ran across one of them recently and it seemed as if the whole experience came alive for her again.  The second thing that was suggested was to write. The book is almost always better than the movie and after a time, the movie memories in your head grow faint. Writing allows you to be expressive in such profound ways which will help you relive the camp experience even years later. We catch my daughter reading her journal frequently, reliving that impactful time. I would probably take some pictures and maybe even create a photo album and intertwine it with my journal.

The truth is that for many of us, our summer camp experience is over. We have to find different ways to get out of our comfort zone, change our routine, stretch ourselves, experience new things, meet new people, and take some risks.  I would argue that a good conference can offer these things. Maybe not on the surface but if you dig deep enough you will find opportunities to experience these things that made summer camp so rich and enjoyable. The next time you attend a conference, make a list of how you are going to do the following:

Get out of comfort zone

Change Routine

Stretch Yourself

Experience New Things

Meet New People

Take A Risk

While you are there, journal thoughts and ideas that come up from the event. Write down the risks you took and how they impacted you.  Make sure to get contact info from people you meet.

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