Sometimes you just need a break– from school, from your job, from your friends and family. Two years ago, exhausted and stressed out from a busy year, it was time to switch up my routine.
Working in the Friends Camp kitchen was not a break in the traditional sense. I spent long hours on my feet, slowly wearing away at the soles of my clogs. Every morning I rose early, pulling on a dirty sweatshirt and stumbling into a quiet kitchen while the rest of camp slept. I finished out each day emptying trash cans and scrubbing countertops. It was hard work.
But camp was still the break I craved. After years spent building my resume in the hectic world of political campaigns, I learned to approach work differently. Sometimes the political world can teach sly manipulation and encourage getting ahead at all costs. Until my first summer in South China, I had never been part of a community of people so committed to each other and so solely focused on creating a positive space.
Friends Camp gave me a perspective I desperately needed. I reveled in the magic of the little things: a cooling midday swim in the lake, a round of knockout won on the basketball court, an imperfectly executed variety show routine. I laughed until my stomach ached and my jaw became sore. I cried at meetings for worship and fire circle messages. We prepared ridiculous amounts of pizza on Friday nights and felt an immense amount of pride when we finally mastered the newest friendship bracelet technique. Scrubbing pots and pans became an activity that couldn’t be completed without a shared smile and a dance party.
For two summers, I lived in just about the most beautiful place on planet earth.
If I was worried about how working in the camp kitchen would translate to a resume, I shouldn’t have been. Once I could handle the joy and hardship of making three hundred mac and cheese pancakes in a single lunch prep, I was ready to take on the world.
If you know someone looking for a break, I know the perfect place – rumor has it Anna’s still looking for Super People this summer.
Written by Mary Ollen, January 2020. Mary was the Friends Camp Head Cook in 2018 and 2019. We are so lucky to have been recipients of her joy, hard work, open heart, and delicious food. Mary will be back for 2020– not for the whole summer, but to help prep our new kitchen staff. We love you, Mary!