The summer of 2014 has officially come to an end. You wouldn’t think it from the change in temperature and the continuous transformation of the leaves to their beautiful golds, reds, and browns, but summer ended on September 21, 2014. And although the summer season has just ended, it has been over a month already since the end of the camp season. This can be another one of those moments where you seem to stop and say to yourself, “Man, did so much time go by already. How is it already a month that I have been home? What has happened in that time?” Despite the fact that camp has ended and we have moved into the ‘usual’ schedule, it is still very possible that camp is alive and well in your life today. What exactly am I referring to?

When you spend time at summer camp, you encounter an environment that is so new or unlike anything you have experienced prior to it. You enter into this environment where you, essentially, are in charge of you. There is a focus on personal responsibility. That is a major goal parents state when they have their children go to summer camps, so that their children are able to learn to stand more on their own power, so that they can feel more confident in their ability to make decisions and understand consequences as a result of those decisions. And that is not just relegated to campers. Counselors undergo the same kind of test to personal responsibility, and even then some as they are employees. When you are in that kind of environment where the environment subtly changes your decision making process or your point of view when considering options, these changes are taking place without your awareness. It’s as if a stream is constantly flowing on a rock, and the rock is slowly molded and changed by the constant moving water over time.

But since these changes are gradual and happen over a longer period of time, there is no thought given to the chance that there has been a change. The change has become ‘what has been,’ the new normal. If you take the time to analyze thought processes, how you approach situations, what your motivations are before doing something, you may see that change more clearly. It is like a compare and contrast, a before and after.

A danger, however, in returning to the ‘normal’ schedule or what you have been used to is that you have been grooved into behaving certain ways when confronted with different stimuli. When you get home from work or school, what do you do? Do you take the shoes off, put the briefcase on the table, open a soda and then watch TV for about an hour, then start to think about what you will have for dinner, etc.? Do you place your backpack in the same place when you are back home, have a snack, watch a cartoon, and then start homework? When we go through these actions, do you realize what you are doing when you are doing it? Or are these actions just automatic? I think there has been more and more awareness to that ‘autopilot’ feeling people get when they go through their day, so you may have even had a sudden realization about this point at different times.

But this is where those subtle changes in behavior can bring greater awareness to what is going during the day. That ‘new normal’ you experienced during camp is coming into conflict with the ‘old normal’ of your usual schedule. The conflict isn’t a negative one. Instead, it can show you how you have grown through your experiences, decision making, and responsibilities. The trick, then, is to be careful of falling back into old habits, that way you used to do things. With all the knowledge and experiences you gained, the last thing you want to do is turn your back on that growth in character and person. Don’t let that autopilot steer you.

That’s the end of this particular blog post. I hope that you have enjoyed it and maybe gave you something to think about. Don’t let your experiences go to waste. Incorporate them into your life, reflect on them, and when doing so, you may not recognize yourself.

By Matt Buynak Jr. (09/26/2014)

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