Sunset over Bench“OHHHHH! Stay on the sunny side, always on the sunny side, stay on the sunny side of life! Ba-da-da-da-da-da-da You will feel the pain as it drives you insane, so stay on the sunny side of life!”

That’s the chorus for one of the campfire songs we used to sing every year at SCC. The “verses” are back and forth shouting of Knock-Knock jokes, among them are “Ether” (Ether Bunny!), “Stella” (Stella Nudda Ether Bunny!) and “Boo!” (Boo-who? Don’t cry, Ether Bunnies be back next year!).

Though the song doesn’t make a whole lot of sense (I mean, there is only ONE Easter Bunny, same as one Tooth Fairy, Santa or in my case, Laundry Fairy) it does heed a good part of advice: Positive Thinking. “Staying on the sunny side” boils down to looking at life through positive lenses, as a glass half-full mentality.

I have always had a positive attitude, sometimes more so than I should have, and I think that along with my guidance growing up, camp was a major reason for that. Even some of the worst scenarios you could think of while camping were met with a positive spin, both as camper and counselor.

Take for instance a rainy day. It would be dark out, electives would get cancelled, and you would be forced to stay in your cabin all day long. Normal circumstances, these would ruin a day and run kids mad, but at camp? At camp this meant you had a Rainy Day Scavenger Hunt (P.S. when they tell you to bring out gum, candy, food or drinks, DON’T DO IT! IT’S A TRAP!) and hours spent sharing stories, jokes or tales with cabin mates. Some of the best times I’ve had were during a rainy day stuck in a cabin.

On the flip side of a rainy day, there were days when it was scorching hot! Everyone is sluggish, no one wants to be in the sun, you can’t do certain activities. The bright side of a hot day? Freeze Pops at the Nurse’s, ice cold water in Igloo’s around camp, and “Beat the Heat” days events which are similar to Rainy Day except it has stations to cool down including the pool, slip and slide, water balloon fights, the lake, washing counselors cars…

Those are some external elements that as a camper you didn’t have any say about whatsoever. However, there were times with what would appear to be a bad situation, but you did have a say about.

I remember the last year I went to camp for only 1 week, and had to go from session 4 to session 3 (4 became the new 2 week session.) I hardly knew any campers, didn’t know a single person in my cabin, and all of the friends I made the previous years were now going to the two week session.

Did I let that slow me down? Of course not. I made new friends, shared new tales and stories, and had an excellent week. I did long to spend 2 weeks with all of my friends, and my parents were kind enough to let me go to Session 4 for the rest of my years as a camper, but I was still AT CAMP! Camp was my time to be me! I sang songs, I laughed, I cried, I met new people, I was who I was afraid to be other times when I was away from that sheltered place.

Thinking positively and looking on the sunny side, I have always been able to make the most of any situation. I may have moved over 1000 miles twice in the last 5 years, but that was always for an amazing opportunity with work. It has made way for me to have an opportunity to meet even more people, play Ultimate on several different teams, become a referee for Wheelchair Rugby, and this fall begin my studies getting an MBA.

Could I have looked at that and said, “I won’t be near family and friends,” “I just made the Pittsburgh B club team, I can’t afford to move now,” or “Maine? Are you crazy? It’s cold up there!” Yes, I could have (and fleetingly did), but at the end of the day, I looked at the opportunity placed before me and confidently strode forward.

It’s amazing how the Sunny Side of the street is always lit up to blaze your path forward.

*It’s important to note that no “Ether Bunnies” were injured in the making of this post. Also, Happy Fourth of July for all of my American friends!

Question: What stories do you have of a situation where you looked positively at it and were able to come out better in the end?

“Stay on the Sunny Side” – a Lesson from Camp

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