Life lessons from my time in the Berkshires of western Massachusetts, continued.
For part one visit Reflections.1
3.) The Need for Healthy Boundaries: In 2015 I entered into the outdoor industry for the first time in a full-time permanent way. I was no longer holding positions for three months before going back to school; I was in it, and I wanted to stay in it. I realized that if I wanted to stay in love with this work I would need to be intentional about how I went about it. I’ve learned there are many facets to stewarding your passions, but the most prominent one in recent years for me has been setting boundaries. For the past four years I have worked solely in a camp setting, which means very little separation between my work and living spaces. You see, when working and living at a camp facility your co-workers are your housemates, your “office” is your backyard, your dinner table is just a few feet from the students you’re working with for the day, week, or month. If you’re not careful you can end up working twice as much as you’re scheduled for in a week, which means less energy for next week, and next week usually won’t let you off just because you’re tired. If it happens again, and again…do the math. It’s a slippery slope that quickly leads to burnout. This is where boundaries come in. You have to know when to say no and when to say yes. You have to know where one area ends the next begins, and then stand by it. For me this meant leaving camp a few times a week, redirecting a participant with an issue to staff who were working when I was off the clock but on-site, even just cooking my own food was an act of separating my personal life from work. These sort of decisions helped me save energy for when I needed it, fully engage in my work, and fully reap the benefits of work and personal time. In this world of mine where there was so much overlap between work and life, boundaries helped me maintain integrity in both.
Working and living out in Becket, MA, with BOC and Camp Becket brought to my life an incredible level of growth, challenge, friendship, and discovery. Between August 2016 and October 2018 I spent some time away in Montana and New Zealand, but through it all the community in Massachusetts was constant, always in contact, always there waiting for me to return. My last day of work there was October 16, 2018, and on November 8 I drove away for the last time, heading west to move back closer to family and pursue new opportunities. As I drove west I knew I was leaving something special. There were countless other lessons I learned, but best of all was the company. Such amazing people! The lasting joy of making new friends season after season and deepening friendships with those who stayed over time is hard to describe. The Berkshires will forever hold a place in my heart, and it is absolutely clear to me that my time there will produce fruit for decades to come. To all the places and people that were part of it: thank you.