1) While away on a business trip, you have a set schedule of activities to accomplish during the day. At camp, these activities are listed on a sheet hung by the cabin door, and there is little flexibility. On a business trip, these activities have been entered into your smartphone, and there is a tight schedule. This is a good thing. At home, flexibility comes in the form of flying milk containers, random bodily function expulsions, and unforeseen trips to the skate-sharpening place. And all of these happen in direct proportion to the amount of work you need to get done at a particular time. Who needs flexibility? Here at Business Travel Summer Camp, your time is your own. Your biggest challenge might be that the mini-bottle of wine in the bar fridge is a Sauvignon Blanc, and you really were in a Pinot Grigio type of mood. Ahhhhh!

2) Someone else prepares your meals. Oh, this is huge. And, yes, while the Chef’s Special at the SleepEez Motel on Route 814 in northern Alberta might have as its base ingredient the same Hamburger Helper you have in your cupboard at home, you don’t care. You didn’t have to make it. You also can’t read the calorie count on the packaging it came in, and you don’t have to clean it up afterwards. Did I mention you probably have a glass of wine in your hand and nowhere to drive to? Where’s the downside? The worst meals served to you outside of the house are better than the best meals you have to make at home yourself. If “yourself” is me, that is. At a real summer camp, your meals are prepared en masse, and there’s little choice offered, if any. But even your pickiest of eaters will tell you that the food served at summer camp is awesome. Why? Because they are hungry and they didn’t have Mom running around fetching them snacks in between lunch and dinner, during the soccer game, and while taking a three-minute walk to the neighborhood park. The enjoyment of food is not entirely flavour based; it’s circumstance based as well.

3) Campers are often told that they must be responsible for their actions, and that they alone can control their reactions to how others treat them. Cabinmates often have to agree to disagree and get along for the sake of cabin harmony. This should be the case during business travel as well. We need to control our reactions when we get bumped off a flight, put in the room next to the elevator, or are forced to deal with a dirty fork. First of all, you’re not traveling with children so all of this is trivial, and secondly, it still beats being at home, where you are constantly being held responsible for things that are not your fault, such as:

a) Moving dirty sweatshirts from the front hall to the laundry basket where they might unfortunately get cleaned.

b) Stealing someone’s Hot Wheels track. We know what you do with your spare time, Mom.

c) Throwing out an art installation that included toilet rolls, massive amounts of Scotch tape, and a tampon box.

d) Everything that went wrong with the 12-year-old’s math test. See? It’s all good! Make friends with your fellow stranded travellers and find peace and harmony over a fine merlot.

4) There’s usually at least one kumbayah moment with another person at camp, someone who becomes your instant Summertime Best Friend. This phenomenon also occurs on business trips that include groups. This bonding could take place in a bar, although for safety and pride reasons it is recommended that when occurring between members of the opposite sex, such a moment should take place within a business setting or at a minimum over tea in the hotel lobby, not in the Hooters down the street. Ah, the Business-Trip Best Friend: you’ll share confidences, laughs, and personal confessions. Then you’ll get on separate planes and not exchange more than a “how’s it going?” the next time you see them. Except for that one lame inside joke that will carry on well past its shelf-life because neither one of you knows how to let it go.

5) If you get a little dirty at camp, no one cares. In a physical sense, at any rate. On a business trip, you can get a little dirty, or rather salty, with your language, since your kids are not around. You could say the F-word. In a meeting. Without having to deposit money into the swearing box, apologize to the kids, or suffer being snickered at by the teenagers. In fact, swearing about your children while you’re away from your children is almost encouraged. You can take off your “Mommy Guard” and let loose. At least a little. Damn it. Gosh darn.

6) You go to bed exhausted and you wake up way too early. Campers love to stay up whispering to each other (about who sucked at field hockey, that sort of thing), just like moms jump at the chance to hang out with adults, whose food they don’t have to cut up, and who don’t argue with you about why you can have another glass of wine, but they can’t have another pop. This can lead to a “But I’m in Detroit” mentality, which in turn can result in minibar raids and all-night movies, not to mention the ill-advised “Let’s go clubbing with the guys from accounting” outings. But remember: what happens at camp, stays at camp. Unfortunately, what happens on business trips gets rehashed and embellished during the next business trip, over drinks with your next new Business-Trip Best Friend. Be careful.

Excerpted from Kathy Buckworth’s “I Am So The Boss Of You”, McClelland & Stewart, 2013.

This article first appeared in Huffington Post and can be found at this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathy-buckworth/women-in-business_b_5403142.html

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