Month: March 2018

Growing the Garden… and Gardner

I love Judy’s Garden at Camp Weequahic. We built it about five years ago and CMJ, with the help of a lot of campers, has been faithfully tending it ever since to the enjoyment of many.

Our budding chefs from the Top Chef kitchen can be found grabbing a few herbs or veggies. CMJ and her pickling team produce pretty fantastic treats each summer. And, it’s a great place to watch everything from flowers to veggies grow.

One important task is to keep the weeds from taking over the garden. Try as we might, we can’t seem to keep them out completely. But, with the diligent help of a few intrepid campers, the ‘good fruit’ of our garden is kept safe from the weeds.

Our Own Gardens

I’ve run into the analogy of gardening and soil often over the past few weeks. When the same theme pops up three or four times in short order, I pay attention – someone is trying to tell me something!

Here’s the idea: we have to think of ourselves in two ways. First,  we are the soil in which our fruits – thoughts both good and bad – grow. Secondly, we need to think of ourselves as the gardener who cultivates our own personal garden.

Here’s what I mean.

Think of your mind and soul as a garden bed. When you are born, that soil is naturally rich and accepting of all sorts of ideas and experiences.

You won’t remember it this way but watch a baby or toddler with engaged caregivers. You’ll notice that the adults are trying to help the child learn and grow in wholesome ways – be patient, use your words, explore, laugh, read, and more.

The hope is that these actions take root in the child to the point where they lead to bearing ‘good fruit.’ This means actions in the future that are beneficial and helpful.

This can come in lots of forms: reaching out to a friend in need, showing self-control and self-direction, being kind, an inquisitive nature, etc.

But remember, your ‘soil’ can be planted with things that are not beneficial, too. I would call these weeds that can choke out the good fruit in you – things like selfishness, anger, impatience, and fear. If you aren’t careful, they’ll take root… and take over the garden.

Up Grows a Gardener

One of the many amazing things about being a human is that we can practice ‘introspection.’ A house cat doesn’t look back over its day to see what it could have done, said, or thought better. Neither can any other animal – except you!

As you get older, you start to realize that you have a lot of control over what you think, say and do. Even more, you begin to understand that all the ‘inputs’ – what you read, see, and listen to –  leave seeds that grow over time.

All of these messages are fighting to get into your ‘soil’ in order to take root and grow. But, here’s the important part: you get to choose what grows and what gets removed in your garden.

You are the gardener. But, be warned: some weeds are really, really tough to get out. I’ve tried for years to my cravings for canteen. I’ve gotten better over time but that longing will probably always be in me, even if just a little. I kid… but not really….

Helping Gardners Grow

Whether you know it or not, camp is trying to help in both areas. We do our best to surround you with great friends, fun messages, good ideas, and awesome experiences to fill up your internal garden.

And, just as important, we strive to surround you with mentors who will you develop your own gardening skills. These young men and women give up a lot of their time to teach you! By showing gratitude, choosing their attitude, and practicing both courage and kindness, the hope is that a little of it will rub off on you!

So, spend some time over the coming weeks taking a good look at your garden, and your gardening skills. It’ll be some of the most important work you do!

Have a great week!



Yes, I know. I misspelled ‘responsible.’ I was trying to get your attention. Hope it worked!

What I should have titled this post would have been ‘response-able.’ But, the title mashup is one of my new favorite words – along with gratitude, attitude, courage, and kind.


‘Responsable’ might be best described as the ability to choose your reaction in any situation. Think that is important? Let’s try it out in a few situations….

The camper sleeping above you is feeling left out –always holding back from the group, super quiet, and often looking down. What’s the proper response from you?

Your counselors have asked you twice to clean up your area because it’s three minutes before flagpole. Do you a) ignore them and keep jawing with your buddies, b) keep jawing with your buddies and clean up as quickly as you can, or c) tell your buddies that you can’t speak anymore until you get it all done.

Today’s your day to wakeboard and you’ve been waiting since last summer to try a new trick. As you walk out of lunch, you see the clouds coming. And, as you start walking to the dock, those clouds open up – no wakeboarding today. What do you think?

The Lab

Camp affords you the best of all worlds to become more responsable.

You live in an environment this safe, engaging and so much fun. You are surrounded by mentors and leaders who want only the best for you. And, because you are literally surrounded by people from all over the world all day long, you have a lot of chances in which to learn.

Every day, you will have a number of chances to choose your responses. Some responses will be perfect. Others may need a little work. The trick is to take a few moments each day to think about your responses throughout the day, learn, and determine to do better where needed.

We all get to choose our responses to any and every situation. And, you can be calm and thoughtful in just about any moment.

In order to be that way, you first have to understand that your thoughts shape and color your every experience. Secondly, if you have the mental agility to see things from new perspectives. And, to make it stick, you just need to be mindful of your responses throughout the day.

You can become more responsable – it just takes a little work each day. But, don’t worry – it’s worth the effort!

A Wheel of Growth

We all enjoy spending time at the campfire. Campers and staff laugh and celebrate surrounded by friends. We enjoy a pleasant evening by Sly Lake and watch a fire crackle away. And, we learn. It’s the only time each week we are teaching in a way that is ‘overt’ or, as some might say, in your face.

But, do you think that’s the only time we are ‘teaching?’ Of course not. Our campers and staff learn all week long – in the studios, on stage, in dining hall, on the courts. These activities are a ton of fun and led by people who really know their stuff.

Walking around camp seeing everyone totally engaged and going is one of my favorite things to do. Anyone looking will see how much the kids enjoy the activities. One activity our campers don’t love? Doing their morning chores.

The Wheel of Growth

The infamous chore wheel can be found in every bunk. Names on the inside of the wheel, chores on the outside. Move it one tick each day and you’ve got your new responsibility – sweep or take out the trash or help on the close line, etc.

Of course, you always have to make your bed and tidy your area… but you already knew that. What you may not know is that these chores are instrumental to the future lives of our campers.

Don’t take my word for it. In one of the longest studies ever conducted, researchers at Harvard found a lot of important information – the importance of close relationships and the power of doing chores.

Doing things around the house (or bunk, in our case) was directly related to respondents being successful in work and well-adjusted in life. And, the earlier these chores started, the more positive impact they had on the respondents.

Does this mean you have to do your chores to be a successful, well-adjusted adult? No, but doing chores will certainly help you in a lot of ways.

You become better at seeing that you have a direct impact on those around you. You begin to realize that no job is too small or ‘beneath’ you. And, by doing those jobs, it may help you appreciate those who do them for you later in the life. Don’t forget ‘work ethic’ – rolling up your sleeves and getting it done – improves over time and with use. Plus, you get an emotional and build confidence because you’ve been helpful to those around you.

See? There are a lot of great reasons to do your chores. So, next time we spin the Chore Wheel remember… it’s for your own good!

Have a great weekend!