How Summer Camp Taught Me to Make My Bed and Clear the Clutter

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Ugh. It is 6:30 a.m.

Time to rise and shine.
It is time to make the bed.

Most people, campers included, do not love the chore of making the bed. But, do you realize just how many benefits this seemingly mundane task offers us throughout our lives?

Summer camp teaches us life skills like how to make bed and start the day on the right foot.

There are quite a few life-long benefits as it turns out! After doing some further investigation, I learned that making the bed:

  • Clears our mind. Straigthening out the blankets and sheets and fluffing the pillows means that we are more likely to have neat and tidy thoughts instead of disheveled, messy ones. Put simply, when we make the bed, we reduce the crud and clear our minds.
  • Reduces clutter. A clean bed keeps us from creating more clutter. Now, imagine for a moment, 20 campers with clutter-free beds. This routine and respect for the cabin environment may likely lead to those campers putting away their life jackets after sailing class. And, just maybe they’ll be more inclined to take their plates to the kitchen and scrape off the food. And so on and so forth.
  • Humbles us. Even though we may be tired, we can accomplish a humbling task that– in two minutes or less–can make a great investment in our day. This chore, as simple as it is, is an act of service to those who live with us. And, there’s no surprise here, it’s a service to our psyche!
  • Rewards us. Accomplishing something first thing in the morning gives us at least two rewards. First, we finish a project and head out for the day with a clear conscious. (This is instant gratification at it’s finest.) And secondly, we come home after a long day of work, school or play and reap another reward: we get to see our room in terrific condition. Perhaps a third reward is knowing that the sheets will be warmer when we crawl into them!
  • Provides routine. Making the bed provides us with, in some cases, a much-needed routine. At summer camp, as in the military, it is also an equalizer since everybody has to do it. As mentioned in a previous post, my uncle Gary was taught in Army basic training how to make his bunk with “hospital corners” so that the blankets were tight enough that the Platoon Sergeant could bounce a quarter off his bed.
  • Helps us face obstacles. “Especially if you’re feeling overwhelmed, picking one little task to improve your situation, and doing it regularly, can help you regain a sense of self-mastery,” says Gretchen Rubin, Author of The Happiness Project. “Making your bed is a good place to start, and tackling one easy daily step is a good way to energize yourself for tougher situations.”
  • Contributes to our ‘hood. Did you know that making the bed may actually lead to us taking better care of our neighborhoods? It’s sociological. The “Broken Window Theory” states that when we quickly paint over graffiti, fix the broken windows and pick up the litter in our ‘hood, we help prevent further decay and escalation into more serious crime.  So, how does this theory affect us at home? Well, if we let one thing slip (e.g., not making up our bed), pretty soon something else goes haywire. We might leave clothes on the floor. Trash piles up. And soon there might be stinky dishes in the sink. Then, if things get really out of hand, pretty soon there is a couch on the front porch and an old car in the front yard. Or maybe not. :)

So, what are you waiting for? Hurry! Go now! Run and make your bed before the world falls to pieces…

All kidding aside, it seems that making the bed has some pretty major lifelong benefits. It turns out that this simple chore is one giant metaphor for the rest of our lives. Making the bed is a life skill that can change our way of thinking and contributing to society. Pretty cool, eh?

Thankfully those of us happy-camper-kid-turned-adults learned to practice this skill at an early age as a result of going to summer camp.

So, here I go…
I’m off to make sure my bed looks neat and tidy!

I cannot wait to get another reward when I hit the hay tonight…

What about you?
Do you make it a habit to make your bed every day? Has it helped create clutter free zones in other areas of your life? Do tell! I’d love to hear from you below…


About Jill Drake

Jill Drake is a happy camper and the founding member of Camper for Life. She blogs about life skills and the ability to turn over a new leaf as a result of going to summer camp.
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