August 3, 2021
I have lost my ability to sleep in.
There. I said it.
As a college student, I remember the horror with which I observed my roommate’s (Mike) folks going to bed between 9 and 9:15. I was visiting during a school holiday and felt like we had just finished dinner. I asked my Mike’s dad to join us for a chat.
“No way, champ. It’s bedtime.”
“What?” The look of incredulity must have been all over my face.
“Hockey practice at 5:30. Need my beauty rest.”
And off he went.
I looked at Mike like I had just seen an alien. “5:30 on the ice? What time does he wake?”
“I dunno. I would guess 4:30.”
“Just for hockey season, right?”
“No, that is his pattern.”
Mike’s dad strolled back into the room and dropped a little wisdom on us, “There will come a day when you will wake early. You will fight it at first, but it will win. I recommend embracing it. The only downside is that you also go to bed early. So, yes, no David Letterman for me. Goodnight!”
I remember deciding that he might speak for some, but not for me. I had a lot of my college identity wrapped up into being a “stay up and solve the world’s problems” type of guy. Sure, I was tired some days, but that was the purpose of weekends – you can bank that extra shut-eye and hit reset for the week to come.
This belief had an outsized importance to my mind. I would embrace adulthood – the responsibilities to employ, feed and clothe myself. I would find a career that had meaning and fun. I would find a life partner and raise children. Taxes? No problem. Greying hair? Bring it on.
But I somehow saw the last marker of youth as the ability to stay up and sleep in.
Guess who has not missed a sunrise in years?
Yup. This guy.
Before this sounds too indulgent [Note from Susie Ma’am – “too late”] or unrelated to camp [“too late again”], please let me bring this to a point.
Few things prepare you to appreciate the joy and silliness and constrained chaos of camp like a serene morning full of birdsong. I love these moments, but I do not wish them to remain. They are private moments that set the stage for a full day of – well – who knows?
Yesterday had two huge cloudbursts, so cabins got the wonderful experience of bonding together unexpectedly. Sure, they lose an activity or two, but they also get to have a shared story that might include a card tournament or a tent-making competition using sheets.
We also had a camp-wide carnival in the evening. The weather cleared and campers were dashing from dunking booths (counselors as the dunkees) to fortune tellers to face painters to snow cones to 8 other stations. Some of the more sophisticated campers spent time strolling and talking and pretending they were too mature for some of these things, but they seemed to find time to get a fortune told or a fake tattoo applied.
But the day starts with serenity.
I treasure the contrast.
I still manage to make it past 9:30 (10:30 is more realistic for a camp director), but I do not bemoan the 5:45 awakening any more.
PS The sunrise photo is a few years old and was right before we had our Lake Swim, a tradition for our oldest campers (generally those finishing 7th and 8th). We have since switched the Lake Swim to a sleep-in morning so that we can get the swimmers through without waking them too early and letter the rest of camp sleep. That will be tomorrow’s adventure.