The Best Thanksgiving Sandwich

November 17th, 2017

I’ll admit it… I really enjoy watching Iron Chef America. For a person who likes to cook, what the men and women are able to create in such a short period of time is stunning. One night recently, I caught the tail end of the Thanksgiving Leftovers battle. Alton Brown, the host, quoted Cicero at the end.

Cicero? The Roman writer, philosopher and statesman who lived over two thousand years? Yep, that guy. At the end of a food show. But, it was a completely apt use. Here’s the quote:

A thankful heart is not on the greatest virtue, but the parent of all other virtues.

I really like that quote. And, as you would expect, it (along with the sweet potato soufflé and turkey tortellini) got me thinking about our upcoming Thanksgiving holiday here in the States.

Thanksgiving Daily

When I’m in the homes of prospective families, our major values of gratitude, attitude and courage come up at least a few times. And, when I ask the prospective camper what gratitude means, I get a quick ‘yes, I know what it means.’ When pushed to define it, however, I normally get a smile and a shrug.

To me, gratitude means be thankful for what you have in your life and reflecting on them. And, there are a whole host of reasons why practicing gratitude on a daily basis is good for you: you become happier, more patient, more thoughtful with others, and calmer.

So, if I told you that one five-minute daily practice would lead to those results in your life, would you do it? We are talking about .5% of your normal waking hours. So, what is this magical practice?

Simple – take 5 minutes each day, think of what you are grateful in your life, and write it down.

That’s it! Well… kinda.

In Walks Courage

While I do love the Cicero quote, I don’t think I completely agree with it. I do absolutely agree that a thankful heart can help you practice all other virtues fully. But, I think we have to add courage into the mix? Why? Let me quote two other great thinkers for my back up.

Aristotle said that “courage is the mother of all virtues because it makes all others possible.” And CS Lewis said “courage is not just one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point.

So, does it take courage to take 5 minutes and write down what you are thankful for in your life? Actually, I think it does.

If you don’t already practice the habit, then it’s a change. And any change, if you are going to make it permanent, takes the courage to start the perseverance to stick with it.

A GAC Thanksgiving Sandwich

So, if you want to be happier, more patient, calmer, and better with those around you, it’s time to make a new kind of Thanksgiving sandwich: one slice of gratitude and one slice of courage. The middle? That’s for the great attitude that you’ll continue to practice.

Regardless of where this note finds you, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Thanksgiving and re-double your efforts to practicing gratitude daily.

Have a thankful week!
Cole

It is OK to Act Your Own Age – How camp allows kids and young adults to enjoy being young

November 13th, 2017

Many first time parents are guilty of rushing their babies from one milestone to the next, pushing them to sit then crawl then walk, while seasoned parents have learned to appreciate each step and understand how fast each stage flies by. As kids grow, they too can find themselves wishing their childhood away, always wishing they were older and on to the next stage of their lives. In this fast-paced world, kids are hurrying through the most joyful times of their lives in pursuit of freedom and independence, and before they know it they’re paying bills and reminiscing about “the good ‘ol days”

 

Camp strives to meet kids right where they are; to embrace their innocence, their goofy-ness, their awkwardness and their curiosity. Camp is a safe place for kids to act like kids without the fear of being judged. Camp Weequahic is serious about fun, and has become a place where kids can be fully immersed in childhood play. Instead of taking selfies and worrying about where they fit in with their peers, they are chasing lightning bugs, judging belly flop contests, singing songs around a fire, and putting on shows. They are being kids, which is exactly how they should be spending their summers.

 

And kids aren’t the only ones acting like kids. Camp counselors come back year after year because of the freedom and joy that comes from being at camp. Camp counselors use their summers at camp as a way to escape the rules and restrictions of adulthood and embrace their inner child. They play games, dress up, sing songs and fully engage with the campers every day. They use this time to free themselves from the ridged expectations of their everyday lives and participate in the activities that make them feel like a kid again.

 

The school year is full of schedules, deadlines, and commitments that can sometimes overshadow the importance of play. With clubs, sports, family obligations and school expectations, kids can bogged down with responsibilities that takes the fun out of being a kid. Although a healthy balance of work and play is vital for growing minds, the summer should be a time where kids can relax a little and enjoy this fleeting time of their lives. As adults, we know how fast this time goes, and we should encourage the children in our lives to spend as much time as they can playing, laughing, getting dirty, trying new things and being silly. And that is exactly what Camp Weequahic aims to offer each and every camper.

 

Where in the World….

November 10th, 2017

We are coming up on the worldwide #CampTShirt day on November 14th and we’re excited to join in on the fun. To see all of our CampWeequahic campers and staff showing off their camp spirit that day would be fantastic. Preparing for the day got me thinking of our campers who are literally from all over the world.

Weequahic by the Numbers

Here are some fun facts about where our Summer 2017 campers came from:

  • 11.5% of our campers this summer came from 14 different countries. These include Spain, France, Mexico, China, Thailand, Russia, Italy, Canada, Columbia, Czechoslovakia, Uruguay, Japan, Belarus, and Switzerland.
  • 88.5% of our campers were from fifteen different states spanning every corner (literally!) of the United States.
  • The state from which most of our campers come from? New York with Maryland, Florida, and New Jersey all tied for second place.

And, if you add in our 225 team members (why wouldn’t you as they are a huge part of the experience!), you get another six countries and twelve more states. Wow!@

Citizens of the World

While the physical size of the world has not changed much at all over the past billion years, our ability to connect with others in distant lands has improved in countless ways.

I have plenty of camp stories about kids staying up a little too late in Italy to facetime with their buddies in California. I’ve seen best friends (one from Moscow and the other from NJ) spend time together apart from camp. I’ve got personal experience in taking my boys to see their best friends in the world… all over the world.

Camp, it turns out, is a bit like the United Nations. Some alum families tell me that being a part of the camp experience prepared their children for college in ways no school could match. Being a part of our community allows people to connect to others from different cultures, places, and experiences and prepares them for a wonderful future.

The best news? Regardless from whence they come, all in our community have something in common – the love of creating amazing experiences the Camp Weequahic way.

This allows our campers to literally travel to every continent and know someone who lives there. (Well… ok, I’m still trying to get a penguin to camp. The Antarctic visa process is really tough!) And that aspect of Weequahic truly opens eyes and hearts and minds… and doors.

Combine this with the independence, teamwork, maturity, and curiosity our campers develop while at Weequahic and you’ve some pretty well prepared young people for the world around them.

So, campers, here’s the takeaway. If you keep your eyes and hearts open, you can build friendships with people from almost every major culture in the world. Sure, you may not speak the same language back home as your new buddy or mentor. However,  you all are fluent in ‘CAMP’ and that can really open up your world.

Camp Weequahic Pride

We hope you’ll join us on November 14, 2017 by wearing a piece of your Camp Weequahic gear. If you care to, please share a photo of yourself on Instagram and Facebook with some CW clothing. Make sure to tag us at @campweequahic1953 on Instagram and @campweequahic on Facebook. Also, please use the #camptshirtday in your post.

I hope you and your family have a fantastic week!

Cole

Why Weequahic?

November 6th, 2017

Camp is not your ‘normal’ summer experience. Indeed, if done right, it can be an incredible gift that continues to give over a lifetime. Why? Because where else can a seven to 16-year-old girl or boy enjoy everything we have to offer?

 

It’s About the People

First off, camp is all about the people. You can have a great camp in the middle of an empty field if you have the right collection of campers and staff. To us, the perfect camper is one who engages, who gets excited about meeting new friends and learning new activities. While our campers are mostly (90%) from the US, we also enjoy a few campers from eleven different countries each summer.

Our campers spend their time with other children their same age and gender during their program day. In the bunks, campers enjoy spending time with up to eleven bunkmates and three college-aged counselors. (More on them in a moment.) This living arrangement and activity schedule allows our campers to build new friendships and try new activities while at Weequahic.

 

Our staff members are no less important to the great experience at Weequahic. Our year-round team spends nine months interviewing, hiring and preparing the best staff we can find. These young men and women all are in college or are recent graduates and are hired for two main roles: bunk counselor and activity teacher.

 

First, our staff members have to be great at creating a remarkable experience in the bunk for the community of children they lead. Secondly, they have to be able to teach a specific area for our campers to enjoy. Only staff members who can fill both roles are hired at Weequahic.

 

It’s About the Learning

By being away from home and interacting on an hourly basis with great staff members and interested kids from all over the US and larger world, our campers gain several new skills:

 

  1. Independence: Our campers build this invaluable skill under the watchful eyes of fun and patient mentors. Choosing their own activities, making their bed, and building new friendships away from home are important experiences for our campers.

 

  1. Community and Cultural Differences: Our campers begin to know the American culture through spending time with campers and staff members from all over the US. This opens their eyes to a different experience and place.

 

  1. Language Immersion: For campers coming from overseas, there is no better way to improve their use of English than living with our staff and campers. We help to guide them through the process and make sure nothing is left to chance.

 

It’s About the Fun!

Don’t forget the most important aspect of camp – it’s incredibly fun! With over 60 activities from which to choose, modern and wonderful facilities, special events and evening activities, and more than 450 campers to get to know, there are ample opportunities to laugh, learn, and grow at Weequahic.

 

Please don’t hesitate to call or write if we can be helpful with any questions about our three-week or six-week options at Camp Weequahic. Located just 2.5 hours northwest of New York City, we do our best to make the camp experience easy for our campers and their families.

 

We would be happy to learn more about your family and help however we can.

 

Can’t wait for camp!

Go Out There And BEEEE…..  

November 4th, 2017

We have this thing at the end of lunch where all of the campers finish the phrase in the title. One lucky kid (usually sitting close to my table) gets to yell ‘AWESOME’ in the microphone while everyone else yells at the top of their lungs. It’s a fun way to end a meal and get ready for what’s next.

And, it’s a way to remind our campers and staff that ‘being awesome’ is a choice.

But, what does ‘being awesome’ even mean?

Lesson at the Beach

I’ve recently spent some time in southern California seeing families. On a particularly beautiful morning, I spent time at Venice Beach walking and watching. Near a pier with a bunch of roller coasters, I ambled past an interesting exercise area. What I saw left me shaking my head in wonder.

On two ropes hanging 30’ down and about 5 feet apart, one guy was going up with a hand on each rope. At the top, he put his feet on top of the support bar and hung there like a bat. Then, he came down the ropes – upside down!

Nearby there were a set of 10 rings, each hanging eight feet off the ground and spaced evenly about ten feet apart. One lady was going through them like she was flying, gliding, sailing.  She was spinning and twisting with an almost joyful expression. The next guy up looked like Tarzan, flying through the rings just as effortlessly.

The final stop on the show was a pair doing some sort of combined ground based acrobatics. He was the base and lying on his back. She was like a human pinball that he spun and supported her only with his feet.

These people were awesome and did incredible things I’d never before seen. None were professionals – all just did it because they loved to move. I asked the first three people how they learned and all basically said ‘by watching others and trying new moves out that looked like fun.’

It can be intimidating watching people do things that you can’t do yet. All we see is the current fruits of their past labors. And, labor they did!

Pound the Stone

None of these people showed up on the boardwalk, jumped into the air, and could do what I saw in that moment when they started. In fact, the upside-down guy gave himself a fist pump when he got to the bottom – he was pretty excited he’d just completed the move.

Becoming great at something takes months and months of effort and thought and practice and learning. It takes building on top of what you’ve learned and loving the process. (There is a great book about this called Pound the Stone.)

And, you have to be careful about comparing yourself to those who have already put in the work to be Awesome at something. If you want to act like Streep, dance like Baryshnikov, cook like Flay, or shoot like Steph, you’ve got to put in the same hours they did. And, that’s a lot of hours and a lot of dedication.

It’s not enough to know what you want. It’s more important to find something you are willing to work for. Once you’ve found that something for which you are willing to put in the time, effort, and learning, then get after it and enjoy the process!

But the process isn’t always fun, is it?

A Good Exercise

I recently read a great example about this. Imagine the one thing you really want – becoming a professional athlete, creating an amazing company, whatever it is…. Now, imagine that you wake up tomorrow morning and that goal has been accomplished.

It would be fun, sure, for a few days. But then you’d get bored with it and start looking to build something else. It’s the struggle, the journey, the process that we truly love the most.

Those men and women on the beach, they had loved the process of becoming awesome. And, they will continue to strive to get better at what they’ve found they love. You can do the same.

Now, go out there and be awesome!

Have a great week,

Cole

The Courage to Choose

October 28th, 2017

This past week, I spent a good bit of time between the Washington, DC and New York City areas visiting families. In fact, I did the trip by car twice in less than a week. I know – not great planning on my part but when parents call….

Late Sunday night, I was about two hours outside NYC when my navigation told me to leave the highway. “Hmm,” I thought to myself. “This doesn’t seem to make sense but maybe there’s an accident or something up the road I don’t know about.”

So, dutifully following the directions, I pulled off the highway.

Four minutes, two toll gates and a few embarrassing moments later, my trusty navigation system had led me onto I95 north – the same road I had just been traveling. Not something you want to happen late on a Sunday night but not the end of the world.

Thirty minutes closer to NYC, my navigation decided it was time for me to get off the highway again. Driving along at highway speeds on my own, I decided not to look at my phone and just give it another chance.

Five minutes, two toll gates, and a few frustrated laughs at myself later….

A Lesson from Circles

Here’s the thing – I’ve driven the road between Baltimore and New York City probably 50 times over the past twenty years. I know quite while how to get from one metropolis to the other without outside help. So, how could I have made the same mistake twice?

I was listening to the wrong voice.

This happens a lot to us in our lives. Sometimes, the voices coming at you are negative and hurtful. Sometimes, the voice speaking to you comes across as helpful, patient, and interested in your well-being. However, whether or not you listen is up to you.

My navigation app has saved me a lot of time and has very, very rarely steered me wrong. However, in this case, I trusted an outside voice over my own knowledge and experience and paid the price.

After getting over the embarrassment, I started to think about all the other voices I let into my life. The people with whom I spend, the books I read, the podcasts to which I listen, the websites I visit, the music I play…. All these voices have an effect on me even if I don’t realize it.

The Courage to Choose

The great news? These are all my personal choices. I get to decide what I listen to, attend to, and focus on. I get to decide with whom I’ll spend time.

I recently read a book by Ray Dalio, a smart man who built a large company doing things differently than most in his profession. One of his central themes includes one of our values. His key to a successful life is a two-step process: you have to first know what the best decisions are and, two, have the courage to make them.

We have to have courage to do things that feel hard or different or weird. Rather than blindly following directions or going with the flow, we need to take some time to think and reflect before going forward. Otherwise, you might find yourself running in circles….

Have a great week!

The Sign Says It

October 20th, 2017

One of my favorite interviewers asks all of his guests a question at the end of the interview. It’s a simple one that requires people to truly think. Here’s the question:

“If you could put anything on a highway billboard sign, what would it say?”

Because I travel to meet families interested in sending their children to Weequahic, I see a lot of signs. Most of them are the plain-old ‘stop’, ‘yield,’ and street names and numbers. However, every now and then, I see one that really stands out.

Recently, I’ve seen a few road signs that actually made me think. Not so much about ‘Stop’, or ‘Yield,’ ‘Exit,’ etc. Those come and go and I certainly pay attention but they don’t make me think.

However, three signs I’ve passed on the road lately have made me think a bit more and I wanted to pass them along.

Create

The first of those was a sign I saw outside our hotel during a recent trip to Custer, South Dakota. (The Black Hills are ton of fun, FYI….)

Our little hotel was full of surprises: a huge wall of board games to enjoy, free panc

ake breakfasts with 15 different toppings, and a warm cookie ‘Happy Hour’ every day at 4pm, just to name a few. They did a lot of big and little things really well.

On the way out for another adventure in the area, we noticed their letter board sign for the first time. This is what it said:

Create the Life You Love

I had to talk to the owners. This place was just too much along the lines of what we try to do at Weequahic. Turns out, there were three owners and all had worked together for years at different hotels. They had learned the business inside and out and decided to head off on their own to create the experience they’d want as a guest.

The sign, they said, was simply what they were doing. And, it showed!

Thankful

I drive through a number of towns that have churches with the billboard signs. Most of them are cute reminders of what they are about. Driving from camp to NYC a few weeks back, one of the churches had this out front:

We don’t need more to be thankful for. We need to be more thankful.

As a camp family, we have a lot. We have great people, fantastic campers, supportive and engaged families, a beautiful setting, and really good camp food. The opportunities we get on a daily basis would stagger the mind of anyone who didn’t ‘know’ camp.

And, the more thankful we are, the more we’ll enjoy it. And, we can be even more thankful. Which leads to more enjoyment. The wheel just keeps on going.

Grattitude

The first time I saw this sign, I was driving from LaGuardia Airport to Weequahic. Cruising up I-87 in the Harlem area, the Grattitude sign loomed. This was several years ago and just one summer after we had first introduced our GAC values. So, as you could imagine, I took note.

The second time I drove by, I was with a friend who could take a picture of the sign for me.

However, upon looking at the result later that night, I realized the sign was misspelled – there is an extra ‘t.’

Turns out, the artist responsible for the work added the extra ‘t’ to, in his own words, ‘turbo charge the grateful feelings.’ It could also be thought of combining both ‘gratitude’ and ‘attitude.’

As it stood there for several years, the sign was a fantastic reminder of timeless idea: adopt the attitude of gratitude and you’ll have a happier life. I miss the reminder.

What’s Your Sign?

How about you? What would your sign say?

But don’t stop just at figuring out would it would say. Rather, go further and think whether you live it or not. Because, really, your own actions are the sign you choose to show the world on a daily basis.

So, what’s your sign? Have a great week!

– Cole

The Comparison Trap

October 13th, 2017

I’ve been reading a lot about anxiety in our nation’s youth. Getting to work with kids all summer, I’m blessed to see it on the other side; if our campers arrive anxious, they leave relaxed, engaged and connected.

But, as a camp director and parent to middle school boys, I’m concerned about the rise of anxiety amongst our kids.  And, it’s certainly on camp directors’ minds. Just in the past week, the subject has been raised to me three different times by different colleagues.

Because I don’t know what I really think until I write it down, here are my thoughts on what it’s all about and few ideas on how we can move forward.

The Comparison Trap

As never before in history, humans are literally bombarded with information. We have access to more information about more events around the world in every sphere of activity – governments, markets, sports, arts, and more.

This gives us unheard of amounts of knowledge. And, it gives us the ability to compare ourselves to everyone else, all the time.

Where did this person go to college? What is this person wearing? What did my friend do yesterday that is so cool? Why didn’t I make the same grade What team did she make? What a cool car/job/house/vacation….

We’ve always compared ourselves to others. It’s a human trait. However, up until a few years ago, the comparison has been to the guy or girl sitting next to you. Now, all of the sudden, we can compare ourselves to EVERYONE.

One of my oft-quoted writers is Mark Twain. He had a lot of wisdom amongst his witticisms and one, in particular, seems apt now: “Comparison is death of joy.”

Personally, I have a hard time with this myself and that’s after 43 years of life experience. I’m barely prepared to handle the information and opportunities coming at me. If that’s the case, what do you think this does to our middle and high schoolers?

The effect on them has been devastating. To me, the constant flow of information leads to constant comparisons. And that, to echo Mr. Twain’s words, steals a young person’s joy.

Possible Anxiety Antidotes

As one my teachers recently said, comparison won’t get you where you want to be. Here’s the quote from Bernadette Jiwa:

“It’s doubtful that comparing yourself or your work to someone else’s will get you to where you want to go…. (Y)ou can’t own your unique identity if you’re spending the majority of your time looking over your shoulder.”

As with a lot of Bernadette tells me, I agree. And that, to me, is the beauty of camp. Here are a few lessons from camp that I think may help our anxious young people. (They might be helpful for us… more experienced people!)

Presence

I recently listened to a podcast about getting out of your own way. The teacher, Gary John Bishop, was comparing the host’s view on life with his young daughter’s:

“At four years old, she has freedom to be. There are no constraints. She doesn’t have to be this way or that way, that way or this way. She’s way more present to the miracle of life than you are because, she is connected to what’s happening right now.”

That is the joy of camp. We totally unplug, stop the comparisons, and stay in the present. Campers are thinking about engaging right now with what they are doing and with whom they are doing it. Those moments are filled with joy, challenge, laughter, and friendships. These full moments of presence happen every day, no mindfulness or meditation needed.

Competence

Kids need to learn that they can do things on their own. This means not only making their bed, cooking a meal, changing a flat tire or unclogging a toilet. (Yes, our campers learn all of these things.)

Competence also means working through uncertainty with friends, learning how to ask questions, standing up for what you believe and learning how to learn when you are wrong.

These situations and learning build competence. And, when you have learned how to learn, this transfers to other situations.

Connection

Our kids need to connect to something larger than themselves. We humans are connective creatures – we thrive on working groups and have since the dawn of our time on earth. These connections need to be authentic, lasting, and honest.

Our current culture gets children (and adults) to start navel-gazing a lot. This comes from the comparison trap: look at that one, compare yourself, and nit-pick everything that doesn’t measure up.

Instead, our campers need to connect to something they love, which loves them, and creates a launching pad for further adventures. That’s what our counselors, division heads, and program heads do on a daily basis.

Last Thoughts

Here’s the thing: I’m just a camp director. All I know comes from working with kids and staff, reading a lot, and the experience we’ve had over 16 summers in camping.

Having said that, I do know the experience our campers have enjoyed has been incredibly positive on the whole.

Upon reflecting ‘why’, I believe it’s for these three outcomes found at Weequahic : presence, competence, and connection. (And, yes, I think talking about gratitude a lot helps, too!)

While maybe easier at camp, these outcomes are something our kids can pursue at home. Being completely present, building competencies, and forging connections certainly help to mitigate the feelings of anxiety. They all fill the space of comparison and fill our children with a deeper understanding of their own gifts. In our experience, they leave our campers with that joyful glow that leads to great memories, friendships, and outcomes.

Let’s all shoot to those goals.

Thanks for joining me around the campfire. Have a great week.

 

 

Appreciate the Moment

October 6th, 2017

Our first five summers at Weequahic are a blur to me. We were so focused on taking our great traditions, a property that had seen some better days and make CW an incredible place for our campers.

There were a lot of bumps along the way.  Because we were changing things, not everyone was thrilled with us. And, when things didn’t go just as I wanted and envisioned, I complained a lot… to a few people.

It never felt right but I complained anyway. I wanted Weequahic to be great right now, doggone it! I wasn’t being grateful for all the magic and fun around me.

But then my whole attitude turned on a dime. Why? Because I read a very short statement from a very smart man.

Enter Dr. Hawking

Stephen Hawking studies astrophysics, math, and a whole lot of other things. His work has revolutionized our understanding of how the universe works. He is one of the smartest and brain-abled humans on the planet.

And, he is confined to a wheelchair. In fact, he’s so debilitated that he cannot speak without the aid of a computer. However, that’s not stopped him from teaching classes, writing books, giving speeches and more. How is this possible?

I think he’s done so well because he’s decided to be grateful and positive. Here’s the quote that turned me around:

“When you complain, nobody wants to help you.” 

And, you know what? He’s right.

Focus

If you spend your time focusing on the things that are wrong, and that’s what you express and project to people you know, you don’t become a source of growth for others. Rather, you become a source of distraction.

The more you complain, the more you drag everyone around you down. And while pulling people down around you so that they feel the same way may feel good for a moment, it just makes things worse for everyone.

Dr. Hawking projects gratitude and inclusiveness and growth and humor and a

wickedly sharp intellect. It’s not just Dr. Hawking who approaches things with humility and gratitude.

A Stunning Fact

Speaking of humility and gratitude, here’s an odd question: which professional sports team has the highest winning percentage in history?

Here are the leaders in their sports:

·      NFL Denver Broncos: 58%

·      NBA San Antonio Spurs: 61%

·      NHL Montreal Canadians: 59%

·      MLB Yankees: 57%

Only a few of you may even know this teams name but they are famous in their sphere: the All Blacks, New Zealand’s national rugby team. They’ve won 83% of all their matches. That’s just straight-up domination.

The All Blacks are the best of the best of the best. And you know what they do after every game, no matter if they’ve won or lost?

They clean their own locker room top to bottom.

The All Blacks want to leave the place better than they found it. Each man who wears the shirt wants to leave the organization better than when he joined. They are grateful for the experience of competing together and take nothing for granted.

These men don’t complain. They are grateful for the growth.  They appreciate the moment, each and every time. And, they win.  A lot.

Gratitude at Camp Weequahic

Are you appreciating the moment?  This is a question I often ask at Campfire.

At Weequahic, we get to play. We get to build deep friendships. We get to do things we’d never dream of at home. There is a lot to appreciate and it’s easy to do.

This attitude can become a bit more challenging at home. We are all so busy – school, work, after school activities, homework, a bit of free time…. I know because that’s our own family’s schedule. The problem with being “busy” is that it often gets in the way of appreciative the opportunities and friends around you.

Take your moments with a grateful heart. Enjoy the little things because one day you may look back and realize they were really big things in disguise.

Let’s have a grateful week!

Cole

Drop the Rope

September 29th, 2017

Today at sundown marks the start of an important day in the life of many of our camp families.

Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement in English, is one of if not the most important holidays in the Jewish calendar. It’s a day for examining your actions and thoughts over the previous year, asking for forgiveness from both God and those you’ve wronged, and pledging to do better. It’s also a day for charity.

Asking for forgiveness and atoning for one’s digressions is important. First, it shows that you recognize that you’ve done wrong. Second, it allows forgiveness to enter into the equation – both you forgiving yourself and allowing the other you’ve wronged to do the same.

Sometimes, this means letting go of anger or jealousy or contempt or fear. Carrying those emotions around is like a big block tied around your neck that you’ve got to lug around. Recognize what it is, ask for forgiveness, set that puppy down and walk away from it!

That leads me to story that is applicable and, I hope, useful for you.

Elephants May Not Forget….

A few years ago, a family traveled to India to learn more about the country and culture. In their travels, they stopped at an elephant preserve where, they were told, one could walk very close to the enormous beasts.

As they entered, the father noticed the attendants walking the world’s largest and most powerful animal around by a short length of rope.

Concerned for their safety, the father cried out, “What are you doing?! That elephant can snap the rope anytime it wants and trample us all!”

“Sir,” the attendant replied, “please calm down and let me explain.

You see, when all the elephants here are born, we place a rope around their leg and tie the other end to a large tree. The young elephant is not strong enough to break the rope or move the tree.

Over time, the elephant learns that the rope controls it and this knowledge changes the elephant forever. While it’s certainly strong enough to break the rope, these elephants don’t know it.”

Drop the Rope

Imagine that – a small rope holding back one of the most powerful animals in the world. If the elephant only knew, it would be off to the races and fast!

But, the elephant would have to recognize the rope for what it truly is – a small thing, which could easily be broken or dropped, that has been given inordinate power over their actions and beliefs.

How about you? What ropes have you allowed to be placed on your leg (by others or yourself) that are holding you back? How you deal with your friends or family? Feeling guilty about something in the past or future? Being angry, lazy, rude, or jealous?

Regardless of your beliefs, spending a hour or day thoughtfully reviewing your past deeds and atoning for transgressions is a useful and beneficial practice. It will lead you to places you may not want to visit inside yourself or with others. However, the power of forgiveness is an awesome thing and I wish you all to experience it.

Talk with you next week.

(This story came from Joshua Medcalf’s Pound the Stone. I highly recommend it to all.)