Hard Work

I recently posted on LinkedIn about the hard work that camp sponsors like myself put into our jobs in order to support camps and it got some blunt feedback. I was caught a bit off guard and needed to take a step back to really think about my position. I’ll reveal how this encounter ended at the end of this short blog, but for now I want to explore this idea of “hard work”.

Take a minute and think about your day. You probably woke up, got ready, then headed off to the camp office building (or in my case the attic office). Now what did you do there? Probably returned some emails, made a few calls, interviewed three or four camp counselors, did some summer camp planning and made a social media post or two. I hope you were able to get outside too. (It was sunny and almost above freezing here in Iowa.) There was surely more to it, but what I just described is a pretty typical work day for a Camp Director (like I was) in early February…not too panicky yet, but still pretty busy with lots of little projects happening.

My day was similar: Woke up at 4:45am to get to my part time job at the local rec center, answered some work emails whenever I wasn’t lifeguarding, got home around noon, called a couple insurance agents then a couple clients, had an appointment back in town, did a few social media posts, continued to edit a podcast episode and am now writing this blog at 6:30pm.

Who worked harder?

Neither and Both.

Because work is subjective. Who works harder, a farmer or a chef? Neither and both. Who works harder, an accountant or a salesperson? Neither and both. Who works harder, a Camp Director or a Camp Counselor? Neither and both.

There’s a stigma that Camp Directors self impose on their own special community. The idea is that they put in longer hours, greater effort and do harder work than almost any other profession. They are right and they are wrong.

They do work extremely hard, but not any harder than a Counselor comforting a homesick camper at 1:00am, not any harder than the Caretaker mowing in 100 degree heat for 6 hours and not any harder than the Camp Vendor trying to make a living one sale/training at a time.

How do I know? Because I’ve seen both it from both sides. In fact I’ve seen it from all 4 of those sides!

This “work harder” stigma has got to go. We need to stop priding ourselves on the long hours, the pennies pinched and the amount of emails returned on a Saturday night.

It’s killing us. And I mean literally killing us. The amount of stress, anxiety and depression this kind of lifestyle is having on Camp Directors (mostly young, mostly entry level) is absolutely appalling. We need to take action and in this case action is inaction. We need to take a break!

It’s hard to set boundaries, I get it. For example I’m still writing this free blog at 7:00pm on a Monday night for an audience that might completely disagree with me. But we have to take back our time, our mental health and our lives.

You’re replaceable at work, not at home.

Please, take some time to evaluate your schedule, your success markers and yourself. It’s high time we all set better boundaries and realized long hours don’t always yield the best outcomes. We need to support each other through this as well. We’re a community and this community can help.

Now, back to my LinkedIn. My original post was all wrong, it pitted my efforts against others and that’s not fair or accurate. We all work harder. I went back and explained myself a bit and edited my post to reflect my true opinion. Feel free to check it out and add me there. I’d love to connect.

Happy Camping and please, take care of yourself…you work too hard.

Published by drewdemery

That Summer Camp Guy!

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