I’m imagining this essay penned on a double lined sheet of paper with a number two pencil, just as it would be in my youth. Alas, we’re many summers beyond those days, yet still I feel compelled to put pen to paper. For a few reasons, the first of which is because it’s always a good feeling to document the days, the second and more important reason is because I did something extraordinary; I went to camp. Yep, you read that correctly. As a 38-year-old mama and wife, I packed up my things, shipped myself, my 6-year-old son and our bare necessities cross-country and headed back to my happy place.
How did that come to pass, one might wonder? Perhaps we can rewind a bit.
Six years ago I held a (pretty well-paying) corporate job and was nursing a child. When it came time to leave the comfortable maternity nest, I found myself inordinately envious of my childcare provider. So I did what any normal person would do in that situation; I put together an Excel chart of what it would cost to be a stay at home mom, presented it to my husband and traded in the corporate checks for payments in hugs and kisses. This kept me happy, for a while. Being a stay-at-home mom, I was able to unearth the creativity that lay dormant in a career in sales.
I created a homeschool environment for my son: Pacific View Preschool. Each week was a new letter, adventures and lessons were learned in accordance. The week of A saw us apple picking, going to the Santa Monica airport. B had us blueberry picking and hitting the beach. You get the picture.
But so goes with kids, the days are long and the years are short. Lo and behold we find ourselves on the cusp of kindergarten. C is ready for a new adventure and now, so am I. The question remained – what would that look like? I was overwhelmed with options to the point of paralysis. So, I finally heeded the advice I kept hearing in the umpteen yoga classes I took to try to figure out my next move; find your happy place.
Where was I happiest in my life?
Without nary a hesitation, I answered, camp. Luckily for me, Caleb had trialed camp last summer and was game to go back. (He loved it as much as I did). So, off we went. Him to the Lower Village of Woodmont Day Camp and me, to the cooking cabin to create an eight-week curriculum teaching campers ages 3-16 how to find their way around a kitchen.
I approached the task as I would any other; with an Excel plan of attack. I created a weekly themed curriculum ranging from Superhero week, where I taught the kids about superfoods and how to make them deliciously crave worthy, to camp classics like Candy Sushi. As the weeks unfolded, so too did my plan for what I would do next with my life. The clarity of the camp kitchen allowed me to mix and fold and fashion a new idea of what my future could look like. I no longer felt overwhelmed.
As the 38-day/8-week 2018 camp season came to a close and I packed up the kitchen for next summer, along with it, I packed up any hesitancy about how to enact change.
Now, back in Los Angeles, the plan forward is clear. I’ll be teaching some kids classes at some new spaces, slowly building my name and brand until I can strike out on my own and give my creativity a brick-and-mortar place to call home.
The journey is sure to be exciting, just as I hope C’s is in his new school. We’ll embark together, finding ourselves, our strengths and weaknesses, one bite, one class and one step at a time.