Our Gang

Posted January 17th, 2020 by

Our youngest son recently started a new book in his middle school English class, The Outsiders. It’s a wonderful read and great story. I read it at the same school, in the same grade, a hundred years ago and still remember Ponyboy, Sodapop, and Two-Bit. I’m excited for Luke to enjoy it and talk with him about it.

On the evening I learned about his new book, I was listening to a podcast in which the guest was talking about gangs. I’m not sure about you, but my mind immediately goes to the detrimental side of gangs – violence, hazing and other bad outcomes.

While the guest spoke about the ‘bad’ of gangs, he also spoke of the positive aspects: a natural feeling of community and an identity with in it being the chief benefit. As anyone with a 10 to 15-year-old in the house knows, having a place and fitting is high on the order of wants.

Gangs

The greasers and the Socs from The Outsiders were certainly gangs. Growing up in the 80s and 90s, we heard often about the Crips and Bloods. There were the Hell’s Angels, the Cosa Nostro, the Backstreet Boys….

You may have been a part of a gang in the past. Along with a few like-minded friends in middle school, I formed a gang called the Volcano Boys. Entry required that you eat a slice of Domino’s pizza and chug a Coke in under 90 seconds. We even made a sign… in colored pencil. On ruled paper. Yes, it was that serious.

While the Volcano Boys did not do much more than fill Friday and Saturday nights with pizza parties, great 80’s movies, and the occasional prank, we felt a specific sense of belonging, of being a part of something different.

It didn’t outlive puberty when a few guys became more interested in girls and others got jobs. But it was fun while it lasted.

The Weequahic Gang

Having just returned from our first Winter Gathering Bowling Party of 2020, the ‘gang’ idea came at me again. We had campers fly in or drive hundreds of miles to see their friends. We young men and women who’ve been with us for almost a decade laugh and scream at seeing their friends.

That’s when it hit me: our kids have formed a gang of sorts. It’s one predicated on connection and community, driven by the values of showing gratitude, choosing your attitude, and building your courage.

The gang is overseen by long-time counselors, many of whom were campers themselves. There is a vocabulary you use only when speaking of or living at camp. There are traditions that are important and expected. While all are welcome, staying means living up to the expectations of the gang.

The result is an excited group of kids who want nothing more than to connect with each other again and again and again.

Joining Up

The hard part? It’s feeling on the outside. Try as we might first time campers arrive at one of our bowling parties and feel a bit on the outside. The older the first-time camper, the more powerful that feeling. Thank goodness for our amazing CITs who helped welcome so many into the ranks. And, thankfully, our parents are patient with the process.

We can’t wait to ‘get the gang back together’ this summer. The connection to one another and something larger than oneself is a powerful thing in all of our lives. Our new campers, with the help of their new-found friends, will fit right in.

Ah… it’s going to be a great summer! See you in six short months!

Weequahic’s Teenage Decade

Posted January 3rd, 2020 by

We all grow so much during our teen years.

From experience, kids are pretty capable at 10 years old. They can make their beds, choose what to eat pretty well, clean up, handle homework, build relationships. They can do a lot!

But, by the end of our teens, they will have learned to drive, cook, clean, and become (mostly) independent. Every decade shows a lot of growth, for sure. The teen years, though, serve as the greatest launching pad for the future.

As we move into the 2020s, I’m struck by how much Weequahic has grown and changed during the Teens.

People

During the first summer of the decade, campers from twelve states and four countries arrived at Weequahic for a remarkable summer. This past summer saw those numbers change a bit.

We now have campers from sixteen different countries and the same number of states. The number of campers has gone from… well, let’s just say we went from using half our bunks to building new ones!

Just as our camper population has grown, so has our summer staff.  Our staff grew from just over one hundred young men and women to well over 200 young men and women (and a few of us gray hairs….). I may be most excited about this number in regards to staff:  we’ve gone from three former campers on staff to over 20 last summer. We can’t wait to watch that number grow.

Summer 2010 was a big year for Weequahic in that so many full-time staff started working for the first time: Camp Director Kate, our Assistant Dana ‘PSP’ Stassen, and our Administrative Director, Cammie Brennan. Associate Director Sue jumped on board for Summer 2011. Dana’s husband, Scrappy, joined us full time in 2017. Chef Daniel arrived six summers ago. Alex Nichols arrived and happily returns each summer. Thankfully, Jerry and Camp Mom Judy never left!

Place

A birds-eye view of Weequahic shows a bit of change: The Cove has been a wonderful addition for our Senior Campers, new toys in the lake and beachfront for the kiddos to enjoy, new courts and fields,  a few new docks in Sly Lake, and more.

Our bunks have gone from ‘rustic’ to ‘camp comfortable.’ Instant hot water heaters, new bathrooms, new bunk beds, new siding and windows…. They are a lot nicer without losing their purpose: a place where community is built.

Thinking about the facility, I can’t of a spot that hasn’t been modified or improved in some way.  Program areas have been improved or modified, the Dining Hall got a facelift, our fields and grounds have been rebuilt…. Oh, I know – my office hasn’t changed a bit. Fine by me – I don’t like being in their much anyway!

Traditions

The Rec Hall continues to show the glories of the past in the plaques and banners, the bunk signs and awards. Campfire happens every Friday night, flagpole each morning and evening, and the Tribal and Olympic competitions make for a memorable end to each session.

Weequahic was lucky when the last decade arrived: it had great bones and deep traditions. Our founders and their family built camp around the idea of caring for children. Along with some wonderful long-time staff and help from friends, we took that torch up and added a few new ideas from old sources.

Present & Future

Camp Weequahic hopes to create a remarkable experience for everyone we meet through gratitude, attitude and courage. Just as we did ten years ago, we meet every new family before their camper arrives at camp. We put every potential staff member through a thorough interview, rigorous background check, and extensive orientation. And, we work to build a community which draws out and celebrates the ‘best self’ within each person under the towering pines Mr. Lustig planted seven decades ago.

We have so much for which to be grateful. Our ‘teen years’ were those of growth and change. Alongside so many wonderful campers, trusting and supportive families, and diligent team members, we’ve built a launching pad for the future. And, oh, what a bright future it is!

Thank you for being on this journey with us. We can’t wait to see what happens next. Happy New Decade, Weequahic!

 

 

End the Year with an !

Posted December 20th, 2019 by

Every day gives us all ample opportunities to practice both gratitude and fear. It doesn’t matter if you are taking your semester ending exams, helping to clean the house to welcome company, or spending some break-time with friends.

We can be fearful of the upcoming situations or the consequences of their aftermath. The test didn’t go well and our parents will be upset. No matter what we do, the guests will be critical of how the place looks. Try as we might, our friends would rather be somewhere else.

A Grateful Rope

The fear you feel and dwell upon in these situations draws you inward. It becomes a bit of black hole, speeding you down a path of increasing anxiety. Not a good place, is it?

What lifeline is most available to you while drowning in that cramped world of fear? You guessed: gratitude.

You’ve had good teachers and are thankful of the time you had to prepare. If the test didn’t go well, then you are grateful to know you need to change your preparation habits. The place may not be as clean as you’d like but you are more grateful to spend time with your guests. Getting to do anything with your friends out of school is just great!

Gratitude puts an exclamation point on the end of the day. Think about how we practice that at camp: someone always asks you for your ‘highs’ of the day. (If you are a 7th grader or younger, Cole and Kate ask for your two happies.)  This is a great way to practice a bit of reflection by thinking about your day and gratitude by expressing your thankfulness for a few great moments.

A Rich Year

As we near the end of 2019, many of us will spend time reflecting on the prior 12 months. This is a good practice to do daily but, with the turn of the calendar and bit of breathing room, it’s more often an ‘end of year’ practice.

During the process, make sure to spend some time practicing gratitude. That means you’ve got to think about the good things and say ‘thank you’ to those who helped make those good moments reality. These stress of the preceding months can weigh you down a bit as can the bustle of the holidays. If we aren’t careful, we can switch back over to worry and fear leading us to feel overwhelmed and alone.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminds us:

In ordinary life, we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.

Be rich in during the end of this year and in the start of the next. Give thanks to those who have impacted your path in this past year. By practicing gratitude you’ll be more likely to end this year with an !

(Hat tip to one of my teachers, Chuck H., for this idea!)

The Gift of Camp

Posted December 13th, 2019 by

I’ve spent the last several weeks exploring the ‘camp as a gift’ idea. The deeper I dive, the further it pulls me along. I’ve spoken about it with camp parents, newly alumni-ed campers, and our own team. A recent conversation with Dr. Tina Payne Bryson really slammed it home.

(You’ll be able to enjoy the whole conversation with Dr. Bryson on January 3rd.  It’s one of the most informative and useful campfire conversation I’ve enjoyed!)

I’m starting to see camp as a gift in lots of different ways. The only way I wrap my head around it is in terms of our family’s yearly goal categories. So, in that like, I think camp is a gift for the…

Body

What environment offers the same amount of vigorous all-day, everyday activity as camp? Sure, you could decide to a boot camp multiple times a day but it’s just not as much fun.

And that’s the key, isn’t it – the fun!

I’m not just talking about the kids who play in a WBL game followed by a WFL game and then spend time waterskiing or climbing. The benefits of such a schedule are self-evident. We have a number of kiddos who want to create rather than compete, build things rather than bomb around the courts. Their fingers become more dexterous, their endurance increases, and curiosity goes through the roof.

Plus, we have our free-play each evening that is full of gaga, sport court, chase and more followed up by an almost always active Evening Activity. Heck, just walking around camp will get you more than the steps you need.

And, let’s not forget the food, a key element to every body’s health. Chef Daniel and his crew do an amazing job combing good nutrition with good taste – an important combination at camp!

Mind

A ‘knock’ on camp is that it takes away from the gains of the academic year. I’ve got two counter arguments to such a viewpoint.

We don’t do a lot of book studying at camp, true. And, the learning goes into overdrive.

Whether you are a camper or a staff member, the amount of executive functioning, empathy, communication, leadership, and courage that gets exercised is off the charts. As all of these functions reside in the still-developing frontal lobes, the mind is literally being rewired by the summer camp experience.

Secondly, I think about a quote from an earlier ‘titan’ of the business world, JP Morgan:

“I can do a year’s work in nine months but not in twelve.”

With the demands of school and after school activities, our kids must have some time to get away and immerse themselves into something that captivates their imagination and rebuilds their reserves for the ‘work’ of school. The break allows our kids the chance to get some perspective by creating distance from which to view their world back home.

This is also good for the…

Soul

Personal joy. Lasting friendships. New-found capabilities and interests. Putting down the masks. A chance to be their best self. Flourishing.

These are all things that happen at camp when it’s the right fit for the kiddo. (And for the staff member, too!) How do you know when it’s the right fit? When there are more tears at the end than at the beginning.

This isn’t just for the kids and the staff who live at camp and breath the same air. This gift affects our parents as well. Seeing your child return home more mature, more capable, more confident and overflowing with fun stories of new friends and new adventures… it’s priceless. (And, a little jealousy-inducing!)

Camp is a Gift

Campers, camp is a gift for you. Make sure to thank your parents for making it happen. Often!

Staff members, camp is a gift for you. Few places on earth will help you grow and learn to care for others as much as a summer caring at camp.

Parents, camp is a gift for you. It will partner with you to help raise your child in the ways important to your family.

And, yes, camp is certainly a gift to me, too. Who would have thought Kate’s introduction of ‘summer camp’ would have led to this point? I’m incredibly blessed. Thank y’all for being a part of the gift each and every day!

Have a great week!

Perfect

Posted December 6th, 2019 by

I hope it’s pretty obvious that I love camp. The laughter and noise of the kids, the enthusiasm and thoughtfulness of the staff, the smell of the pines, the taste of the s’mores…. There is not a place on earth I’d rather be each summer.

At Weequahic, we get to venerate the connection to the old and celebrate the start of the new. We build lasting memories and skills and joy… together. Are there hiccups? Of course! There may be a bug in the cabin. The way our words come out are not exactly what we mean. We may run out of wings at lunch.

Nothing is perfect.

At least that is what I thought until last week.

Kenya

Kate, the boys, and I returned late last week from our first trip to Kenya. Along with friends, we have been supporting an orphanage outside of Nairobi for many years. As this would be (we hope) the last Thanksgiving that our boys don’t have team commitments, it was time to make the trek over.

I didn’t know what to expect at the orphanage. I’ve been to some pretty rough spots – the slums of Tijuana, the inner-city projects of Newark, even Camp Wayne for Boys. (I kid… Tijuana has some nice spots.)

Kenya’s First Love Children’s Home was, first of all, lovely.  All roads inside the compound were clean and true. The rooms were comfortable. Even the squawks and honks of the ducks and chickens was endearing. What I didn’t expect was the love of the children.

Play

First Love is a home for children who have no family who can care for them. As such, I expected to find children reserved, hesitant to reach out, to trust.

This idea was 180 degrees from reality: they craved play, laughed often and without restraint, and wanted to hold a hand or share a hug immediately. After several days living on property, I’m surprised to have convinced Kate to come home.

Were there problems?  You bet. But they were not the problems of privation.

Yes, the kitchen had no running water in the building but the wells were clean and deep. The oven used for cooking 125 people their three daily meals was wood-powered and mighty small but useful. The laundry was hand-washed and hung dry; it was clean. There were no snacks but plenty of beans, rice, porridge, and sustenance.

No, the problems were the same as those we see at camp: one child playing a little too passionately for the others. Someone asking for too many little treats and not sharing. A word taken out of context. Someone slipping and skinning a knee.

Perfect

In the midst of many challenges, in the wake of many hardships, these kids shared something perfect with us: a relationship based on play.

We played four-square and hopscotch. The kids and family danced and made goofy faces with and at each other. We swung and climbed, kicked the ball, and chased the chickens. Everyone made games with the food and make-believe stories with our minds, hands, faces, and words. We laughed and we raced. We read aloud and laughed together.

For four short days, the kids welcomed us into their home, just as welcome our campers in our own. A lot of bad luck led the children of First Love to their gates. Thankfully, many wonderful professionals were there, prepared to greet the children and meet them in all the right ways.

Our campers are much luckier in terms of family connections and material wealth. And, we at Weequahic hope to provide them with the same  experience the children of First Love receive: loving, playful, and completely open.

If we can do that, it will be perfect.  Have a great week!

Grateful to be More…

Posted November 22nd, 2019 by

I just enjoyed several great conversations with some of Weequahic’s finest. We were talking about the idea of camp making us more of one thing and less of something else. You can listen in on Nuge, Elise, Chopper, Ben, Len, Jeff, Jordan and Carly by checking out the Campfire Conversation podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Our experience with camp certainly makes us both more and less. Over the past two decades, I’ve become more patient and less rigid, more prone to listen first and less to likely charge ahead on my own. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Thankfully, Kate and our team have been happy to help me learn.

It doesn’t have to be so. Not everyone who enjoys camp changes much over time. In order change, you must think back over an experience to determine what you should have or could have done differently. These moments of reflection, especially when looked at with clear eyes, can teach you a lot.

Because of Camp

Finish this sentence: Because of camp, I’m grateful to be more _______.

If you are a camper, I bet you’ll say something like independent, confident, gratefully, courageous, connected to my best self, friendly, adventurous or ‘secure in my canteen choice.’ (Well, maybe not the last one….)

I bet our staff would finish the sentence in similar ways as those with whom I spoke: confident, empathetic, grateful and aware.

If you are a parent, I hope the response is more along the ideas of courageous, patient, relaxed, ‘confident I’m on the right track in my parenting approach.’

Spending time at or with Weequahic is supposed to make each of us ‘more.’ I’ve love to hear or read what you think about when answering the question. Take a moment to think a bit on it and let us know your response on either facebook or Instagram.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Gold Mine

Posted November 15th, 2019 by

How many times have you walked away from a puzzle that someone else finished with just a few moves. Or that math problem that you just couldn’t solve which a friend or teacher says ‘what about this’ and leads easily to the right answer.

We all have those moments when, try as hard with all our might, we just can’t figure out how to make that paragraph work, schedule fit, recipe taste just right. And then your friend gives you the answer in a few seconds.

Frustrating? Maybe. Helpful? Certainly. Important? It’s hard to overstate the lesson.

Our Personal Goldmine

In the tough-minded and relentlessly optimistic book, Self-Renewal, John Gardner relays the stories of gold-miners who abandoned hard-worked mines for all sorts of issues. Every so often those seemingly ‘empty mines’ were found to be full of gold by the very next prospector to do some digging.

Much like these abandoned-yet-rich mines, “…most of us have potentialities that have never been developed simply because the circumstances of our lives never called them forth.”  Because we don’t spend time pursuing these potentialities “systemically or at least avidly”, we never really see just how much we can do.

I bet you know a lot of ‘successful’ people. I’ve got a friend who has been a State debate champion, college football player, Navy Seal, successful business person, PhD, and is an all-around great dad. He’s consistently put himself into situations in which he develops different capabilities and talents to their fullest.

But…

The Other Miners

He’s always had help when needed.

Whether it was a coach, parent, instructor, professor, teammate, partner or bride, my friend was supported, pushed, and aided by people who cared all along the way. He found new situations in which to push his own limits along with people to help him through the inevitable hard times. Rather than staying stuck, he asked for help. By learning, he has continually moved forward.

Though not impossible, it’s incredibly difficult to find the depth of your own talents on your own. It’s so much easier to battle through roadblocks and moments of doubt with the help from those around you, those who’ll pick up the shovel and lead you in a new direction or encourage you to keep digging.

That’s what community is all about, what camp is built upon: building a connection between those with so much potential and experienced people who want to help that potential flourish. We build camp in order to help us all keep digging, to find some self-set limits and pass them by on the road to the next iteration of ourselves.

Striking Gold

When the combination of courage, effort, and humility fit just right, you find levels of thought, performance, and success that originally seemed out of reach. It helps to have few or no expectations. Rather, by remaining curious, thinking to yourself ‘what if…’ and enjoying the journey, you’ll go further.

Will it be as fast as you want? Probably not. Will you get ‘there?’ Maybe not.

Will this approach give you the best chance to get where you want to go? Yes. Even better, this approach may uncover riches inside yourself you never dreamed existed.

So, pick a direction and start digging. Tell a trusted friend, loved one, or mentor the direction you are going. Ask for some help when you get stuck or feel there is nothing on the other side. They’ll help you through the obstacle or help you decide to stop digging.

Either way, it’ll be amazing what you uncover. Let’s start digging!

 

 

Your Neighborhood Camp

Posted November 8th, 2019 by

I remember growing up hearing the trolley sounds, the high-pitched puppet voices, and the piano music. But, what I remember most from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was his even, friendly, patient voice and the silence he let go on while we thought about what he’d just said or done or shown.

Mr. Rogers was attempting something new in a medium (television) that was used only for two things: entertainment and news. At the time, that entertainment included mostly aggressive or argumentative people acting out situations not entirely appropriate for children. Instead, Mrs. Rogers wanted to create an educational program for children and families.

Over the course of several decades, Mr. Rogers taught, inspired, and comforted us. While I’ve not yet studied the man as I should, what I do know has certainly molded me and the camp Kate and I direct in many ways. Here are a few quotes from Mr. Rogers that have made an impact on me. I hope will be helpful for you, too.

“I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” And the corresponding follow up: “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

We talk all the time about meeting our campers ‘where they are.’ We have no idea where they are going after camp is over for the summer. There are too many inputs in their future to be clear of what will happen next for each child and how those experiences will mold and shape them.

So, we focus on who  they are right now. And that is more than good enough for us.

“Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.”

We spend two minutes at Friday Night Campfire just sitting together and being silent. Yes, I can hear you now: “Two whole minutes, Cole? Seriously?!”

You should try being silent and present for two minutes. It’s wonderful! And, the baby steps approach has been shown to help build habits across the board. Sitting and being silent will actually increase your sensitivity to the wonder in the world both inside and around you.

“Real strength has to do with helping others.”

We talk a lot at camp about becoming part of something larger than yourself. Helping others, putting their needs and wants before your own, listening to their questions and doing your best to answer them or support them in the process of answering their own… this is how we do it.

Ask the counselors about their summer and they won’t hesitate to say that they’ve found their strength in helping others grow. Ask the CITs about some of their favorite memories and you’ll hear about leading an EA or spending time with their JJ’s.

Just as you’ve got to lose yourself to find yourself, by serving others first, you build the strength inside your heart and mind.

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”

Watching the kids on stage shine could not be more fun. You can feel their excitement, see the joy etched on their faces, and share in the triumph by showering them with applause. Same thing with the kids who climb the wall like spiders, score touchdowns and baskets, create something scrumptious, or come up with a new game in the bunk.

We all have something different we love to do. Pushing yourself to improve, because of the love of what you are doing, and sharing that love with your friends is what camp is all about.

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”

We believe in giving kids a chance to choose at Weequahic. Whether it be their activity choices, the clothes they are going to wear, or the food they’ll eat, providing a safe environment in which they can make these choices allows for growth and self-knowledge. Through these moments of choice and self-discovery, we get to see our campers (and staff members!) become more informed, independent and confident humans.

I’ve got to share one more.

Who in your life … has helped you love the good that grows within you?

We all have good within. Our camp counselors do a wonderful job, in their best moments, of reminding our campers (and each other) of that good and helping it grow. If only we could provide the same reminders back home for the rest of the year.

Instead, we’ve got to make the memories, the moments, and the experiences so intense, so fun, so memorable that they keep you going all year long. Here’s to more of that.

Mr. Rogers wanted us to be good neighbors. Let’s celebrate that wonderful man’s legacy by making it so. Have a great week!

PS: If you’d like to hear more, check out our Campfire Conversation podcast about Mr. Rogers and summer. You can also head out to see the upcoming movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.

The Gift of Thanks

Posted November 1st, 2019 by

Campers, have you recently said ‘thank you’ to someone and really meant it? The standard ‘thanks’ whilst looking at a screen or jumping out of a cab, or running to the next door for more candy doesn’t really cut it. I’m talking about stopping everything else, connecting with the person who just served you in some small or big way, and saying ‘thank you.’

Did you know the word ‘thank’ comes from a Latin word that is roughly translated as ‘I will remember what you’ve done for me?’ Keeping this in mind, think back over your last few interactions with your parents, friends, the check-out person, waiter, etc. When you said ‘thanks’, did you really mean I’ll remember what you’ve done for me?

This is certainly not how I’d judge all of my past interactions. And, because of my lack of intention, I’ve robbed many of a gift.

Simon Sinek wrote two of my favorite leadership books. Short quotes from him arrive most mornings to my inbox. Today’s read:

Giving is sometimes as simple as saying “thank you” to someone and meaning it. We should all give a little more.

Waffle House Lesson

Spending the morning in a diner close to a meeting, I decided to try out Simon’s prompt. When my server, a young lady with tattoos up her arms and a smile on her face delivered my breakfast, I smiled, looked her in the eyes, and said ‘thank you.’

You know what? It felt great. For me.

I got a big smile from the server and, later, a free refill with a ‘shhh….’ as well! So, I’m pretty sure the ‘gift’ was received and enjoyed.

Typing this much later in the day, I’m still on a bit of a high from the whole experience. That one small moment of genuine connection with another person has lifted the sails on everything else throughout the day, even the tough conversation I had with a former staff member and the workout I really didn’t want to do.

After a Halloween night full of candy, laughter, and fun, don’t you think it would be a good idea to spend the next few days thinking about ways you can say ‘thank you’ and really mean it? It’ll be a gift to the recipient and to yourself as well.

Have a great week!

A Technical, Traditional Future

Posted October 18th, 2019 by

You are probably familiar with the ‘yin yang’ symbol. It represents how two seemingly opposite ideas, forces, or what-have-you, may actually be interconnected or complimentary. Like fire and marshmallows, right?!

Believe it or not, this dynamic perfectly describes the interplay between the traditional summer camp of our past and present and the technological needs and challenges of our future.

Technological advances have been enormous over the past several centuries. These advances and won’t stop coming. You’ve experienced AI phone receptionists, dreamt about drone delivered foods, and used auto-spelling daily. Our fridges can now order food, IBM’s Deep Blue can diagnosis medical ailments, and cars can drive themselves.

There are a lot of really cool things happening out there, boys and girls.

Camp to the Rescue

But, do you know what all these advances need to keep going forward? The good ol’ sklls taught at camp: building communities, learning from failure, creativity, confidence, and collaboration among others.

Without the human centered skills of the past, our futures will not be as bright. The pace of change will stutter and take directions that may not be in our best interest. Do you want a voice in the future before you? Then start thinking creatively, reach out to build connections, stay curious, and learn from your mistakes.

When your project, idea, or attempt doesn’t come out your way, instead of ignoring the result, lean into it with curiosity. Figure out the inputs (or lack thereof) that caused the poor result, make the adjustments, and try again. We practice this approach in robotics, at back country cooking, in gymnastics, and at waterski all the time.

When you feel lost or at whit’s end, reach out and ask for help and different ideas. If you can’t get through to that kid or are stuck on the wall or have no idea how to design that welcome sign… you reach out to those around you for ideas, suggestions, and help.

We do it all summer. Why not try it home, too? Here’s the funny thing about asking for help: you’ll connect with someone else and make them feel both needed and useful. It’s a nice feeling to enjoy!

‘No way! They’ll laugh at me,’ you say?  Well, then they are showing they aren’t very friendly or interested. There are lots of people who are – go try again! Courage, young camper. Courage!

The Good News

Want to know the best thing about camp? You are being prepared to tackle the future with gusto, with skill, and with joy… and you don’t even know it because you are having too  much fun.

Let’s keep the fun times going!

PS – If you’d like to listen to a really smart person talk about this, please enjoy the Campfire Conversation with the American Camp Association CEO, Tom Rosenberg. If you care about preparing our young people for the future, it will be a useful 30 minutes!