Mom’s, can I be honest with you? Sometimes, I get pulled in so many directions, and I wear so many hats that I completely lose myself. Can anyone relate? Yeah, I guess that was a rhetorical question because I’ve never met a mother, or any woman, quite frankly, that hasn’t or doesn’t completely lose herself when trying to be all things to all people – mother, wife, partner, employee, boss, co-worker, friend, daughter, chauffeur, volunteer, fill-in-the blank- here. If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to share with you a personal story from this past summer and explain to you why I’d love for you to come to Mother/Daughter Weekend this November 8-10 here at camp. I’m writing this not from the stance of the person marketing camp to you, but as a mother who knows what it’s like to lose her identity in trying to make sure everyone else has theirs. Sound familiar?
Here at camp, one of our most popular activities is high ropes, and part of that experience is something called the Pamper Pole. Why it’s called the Pamper Pole I have no idea, and I should probably ask my staff because there’s nothing pampering about it. In fact, for me it should have been called Terror in the Trees.
I was walking through the high ropes course one week, and the campers and staff asked if I would come do the course with them on Friday. It just so happened that earlier in the summer I made the decision to try to say “yes,” to more of these requests even when emails, phone calls and budgets awaited my attention back at the office because at the end of the day, as a camp director, I knew if kids were asking me to join them, then I needed to say yes. I also made the decision to say “yes,” to fun in general, because I recognized the role that having fun played in good mental health.
So, I said, “yes.” I told them I’d make sure to show up on Friday not really knowing what I was saying yes to.
Enter the Pamper Pole. I showed up to a group of cheering campers, and put on the helmet and harness and headed over to the Pole.
It’s a 30 foot pole, and the climbing part wasn’t so awful. In fact, I got a little smug, shimmying right up the thing until I got the top and realized I needed to somehow haul my entire body up onto and stand on approximately six inches diameter of wood. I thought, and I thought. I over thought. I thought some more. I tried to think through every step, all while staff and campers gave instructions from down below. Once I reminded myself that I was safe, that the harnesses had me, and that my staff was well trained, I just shoved myself up to the standing position.
“Okay,” I thought. This wasn’t so bad. Look at me. Look at what I’ve done. Wait a minute…look out there at the swing I’m supposed to jump for. Hmmm…rethinking this whole having fun thing. Fun is overrated. In fact, this isn’t having fun at all. Whose ridiculous idea was this anyway! The cheering from below brought me back to reality.
I readied myself. And I thought. I thought some more. And I over thought. For good measure I did a little more thinking. Down below my supporters counted to three…and counted to three again….and again….and again…and I stayed up there on the pole…still thinking…..
And up there in the trees with just me, my overthinking brain and God and that swing about 10 feet away that I was supposed to jump and grab and swing like Jane from, I had a moment. And that moment was that this experience was a gift for me. Me. Me, Priscilla. Not Mom, Priscilla. Not, Boss Priscilla. Not Employee, Friend, Daughter, Fill-In-The-Blank, Priscilla. Just Priscilla. And Just Priscilla knew that this jump was more than a jump. It was my way back to myself – the woman I had lost under all the roles I play every single day.
And I quit thinking.
And I missed the swing entirely.
But, it didn’t matter to the campers – they cheered.
And it didn’t matter to the staff – they cheered.
And it didn’t matter to me because I smiled and laughed and cheered back.
I can’t tell you what happened that day up on that pole alone in the trees, but there was a shift – a shift back to Just Priscilla. No roles. No titles. No expectations. Just me. And ever since then, my heart and mind and soul keep growing and learning and expanding. The fear is still there – fear of not measuring up to all the duties that life has plopped on my doorstep, but my response to that fear is just, “Okay, well, you figured out that Pamper Pole Fear, you can figure out this fear too.”
When we met as a staff to plan Mother/Daughter weekend I asked, “Hey, can we do the Pamper Pole with the ladies? We do the Giant Swing and the Zipline, and those are fun, but I really want to offer these women a chance at the Pamper Pole.” I knew what it did for my confidence, and I have a hunch, there are some of you out there that need the same boost as well. That’s what camp is for. That’s what these weekends are for. We come together for a brief moment in time to play the role of cheerleader in each others lives. We share. We laugh. We cry. We eat great food. We laugh some more…and we conquer our fears…at least in that moment.
So, will you consider coming to Mother/Daughter weekend and doing the Pamper Pole with me? Will you be vulnerable with your daughter, mom, friend, aunt, cousin and face your fear, whatever it is, and just do it? I know it’s not a spa retreat, but I can attest to the fact that time in nature renews. The smell of a campfire restores. Time spent with family and friends reconnects, and not having to play any role except the role of YOU, inspires.
What are you waiting for? Join us.