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Imagining Failure and…

I just received my 25th College Reunion notice today. Which made me think about what I was doing about this time 25 years ago. One thing that stands out: waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the Masters of Sport Psychology program at school.

My parents, always supportive, told me I’d get in. My golf coach had written a great recommendation and thought I’d get in. I’d taken classes with the head of the program and worked as hard as possible to keep up. I thought I would get in… but I wasn’t sure.

And, if I hadn’t been accepted, I had no idea what my next steps would be.

Looking back on it, that lack of ‘what if’ planning was a big problem.

Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn

Failing to imagine how to handle failure is pretty common. In fact, during the two years it took me to earn that Masters in Sport Psychology (yes, I got in), I cannot remember ever once hearing we should help our athletes/kids/friends visualize failure. I was taught to help others imagine and plan their future success.

Say you wanted to complete a perfect tumbling pass in gymnastics. I’d ask you to see every move in your mind’s eye, imagine the pressure on your hands, the explosiveness in your legs, the feel of the floor, the sound of the music. Imagine, in every detail possible, the successful completion of the event. Even the high-five from your coach at the end.

This is all you need to succeed: hard work, visualizing the perfect outcome, and trusting the process of improvement. Right?

Wrong. It’s vital that we spend some time visualizing failure… and how we’ll handle it.

How You’ll Handle It

Dr. Stefi Cohen, world champion powerlifter, author, and business owner, recently spoke with Tim Ferriss about failing to make some lifts that were ‘easy’ for her in a competition. As a background, Dr. Cohen was the first woman to deadlift 4.4 times her weight – 540lbs. Crazy!

When she didn’t hit that ‘easy’ first weight, she lost it. Couldn’t continue. She was totally wrecked, both mentally and emotionally. This had been on ongoing issue for her.

A few days later, she decided she needed help with her approach. Working with a sports psychologist, Dr. Cohen started to visualize failing and how she planned on handling it.

After several months of work (and lifting), she got back into competing. And promptly failed her first lift. And her second. Then she ADDED weight and won the competition on the final lift.

How was she able to make such a turnaround? She had decided how she would handle failure – with thoughtfulness, humor, and resolve. And, she had imagined the experience in great detail over and over and over.

Failing at Camp

Believe it or not, we spend time during the off-season imagining why some of our as-yet-untried new ideas for camp did not work. Andy Stanley talks about this as a future ‘post mortem.’

By taking this approach, we’ve made our ideas better. We’ve found challenges and potential issues and planned our way around them. We’ve even decided not to do a few things after putting in the work.

Campers, this is also why I’ve asked every one of you this question: ‘When things don’t go well at camp – because sometimes they won’t – how will you handle it?’

Plan for missing home. Get ready for a miscommunication with another camper or a counselor. Prepare for a meal you don’t love. The more you plan for the (very rare) challenges at camp, the better you’ll be at handling them and getting back into the fun.

Preparing for Summer ’21

The good news? We’ve got lots of ideas on how to help you through the challenges. In fact, next week’s Campfire Conversation with Rikki Goldenberg is focused directly on this topic for campers, parents and staff. She’ll help us all get ready for a great summer! And, of course, we are always here for a call or Zoom chat. Let us help!

Have a great week, Weequahic!

Together

There is a lot going on right now in the world which is confusing, concerning, and scary. This is true for our campers as much as it is for the adults.

Want some good news? We’ll get through it. Especially if we work together and focus on that which we can control: our attitude, our courage, and our connection with others.

The Dalai Lama, one of the great leaders of our time, said this:

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Personally, I believe the problems in the world today are fixable. Either way, let’s not worry. Let’s do something about it. Many are already leading the way.

The scientific community has done an amazing job at creating vaccines that will work. The healthcare community has been outstanding in their efforts to keep us healthy. Our teachers are doing so much to provide as much continuity as possible. Parents are doing their all to keep things light and fun at your home. Many kids, including several you know, are giving back to their communities.

What we need now are same things needed for communities since we humans first gathered around a campfire: connection with each other, hope for the future, and the willingness to do what it takes to get to that future together.

A Camp Solution

At Camp Weequahic, we are fortunate in many ways. Though we have campers and staff from all over the world, we have the ability to focus just on each other rather than everything going on around us. That’s one benefit of the low-tech camp environment.

We have our core values which provide a foundation for all that we do.

The combination of these two elements lead to something is greater than the sum of its parts: a fantastic community in which unleashes our best selves.

Weequahic, let’s take these two aspects of camp and put them into practice back home, in school, and in the rooms and fields and pools of play. With a bit of effort and a whole lot of grit, you can actually influence the little world around you.

If we all do it, imagine the good we can create… together.

A Farmer’s New Year Lesson

We are so grateful to enjoy such an amazing community of campers, parents, staff and friends at Camp Weequahic. The love, fun, and support of so many has been a highlight during a tough year.

While 2020 was filled with a number of challenges, it also taught us several of important lessons. As we move into ’21, a story told around the campfire came to mind. We couldn’t resist one last campfire of 2020 and thought it would be fun to hear from some of our campers and staff once more.

We hope you’ll enjoy this short video about “The Farmer and the Fruit Tree” as well as the fruits our community gathered from the past several months.

To all in our fantastic Camp Weequahic family, we wish y’all happy end to 2020 and wonderful start to ’21!

*If anyone needs help with video ideas or creation, Ben Marshall has done all of the short videos we’ve produced over the past few years – including this one.