Archive for January, 2019

The Space Between

Posted Friday, January 25th, 2019 by

It’s late in the afternoon and we are tired and full and hot. It’s been a fun day – climbing, waterskiing, soccer. In Grill Masters, we made these crazy kebabs with chicken, onions and pineapple.

Lunch was actually really good – wing day! – and the dancing was hilarious.

But, we were up late last night goofing off, telling stories, laughing, and pretending to be asleep, whispering to each other until who knows when. That last round of gaga was great… and tiring.

Time for ‘shower hour’ and everyone is back in the bunk. I catch a look from someone I’ve not seen since lunch. And then another. What a second – was that a dirty look? Did they really just sneer at me?

What the heck? Hm… we didn’t talk at lunch. They were sitting on the other end of the table and wouldn’t pass the ketchup.

What the heck is this all about? Snotty kids…. I can’t believe they’d look at me that way. I going to….

Stimulus and Response

As I hope you can tell, the above is a fictional account of what could very easily go on in a bunk at camp. Not often, mind you, but it does happen. And… I wanted to get your attention. This is a classic camp example of stimulus and response.

Here are the basics: a change in the environment is the stimulus; the reaction of the organism to that change is the response.

In other words, someone tells a joke you think funny, you respond by laughing. You hear a loud crash in the middle of the night, you respond by waking up and looking around. Someone gives you a look you consider mean, you start to react.

It’s pretty solid science, this stimulus and response reaction. But here’s the caveat – you can determine how you respond.

One of my favorite thinkers of the 20th century is Viktor Frankel. An Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist, he was a survivor of the Holocaust camps. One of his thoughts that has always stuck with me is this:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

You Choose

At Camp Weequahic, our campers get to choose their activities. Whether they want to focus on swimming, creating, competing, or adventuring, we’ve got it covered. Everything from robotics and cooking to sports leagues and waterskiing. Your summer, Your choice; it’s a tagline for a reason.

But that’s not all our campers (and staff) get to choose. Their most important choice, made daily and often without much thought, is their reaction.

It’s our goal that campers (and staff) learn to use the space between stimulus and response to become more mindful and intentional of their reaction. It’s an important habit to develop and camp is full of opportunities to practice in a safe, thoughtful environment.

The more we can help our campers (and, yes, our staff) practice using the space between what happens and how they react, the more freedom and growth they’ll enjoy in their lives.

It’s important to remember that the collection of these responses over time determines a person’s attitude. And, that attitude will determine a vast part of their future life.

Here’s to the space between….

Bright Lights Don’t Need Spotlights

Posted Thursday, January 17th, 2019 by

Last summer around the campfire, I spent some time talking about mirrors and binoculars.

The idea is simple: we have a choice. We get to either stare at the world through a mirror, reflecting only ourselves and the people that are ‘with us.’ Or, we can pick up the binoculars and look outward, explore, and welcome others in.

(And, yes, I challenged everyone to do more of the latter.)

Bright Lights

I happened on a quote recently that reminded me of this lesson: bright lights don’t need spotlights.

In other words, if you are asking for all the attention (the spotlight), stop! You don’t need it – you are already bright enough.

Instead, you should be shining your light in order to illuminate the world for others. Sharing your light doesn’t diminish it. It does the opposite – you actually help your light (and the world) get brighter.

One of the best examples of this is our wishboat evening each summer. When one camper lights their candle and sets it off on Sly Lake, you notice but you can’t see anything else around its glow. Once we have 600 of them in the lake, you see a lot.

You may think it easy to spot the ‘bright lights’ around you. Odds are, they’ll be really funny, really smart, really creative, or really athletic. Not all of them want the spotlight. The ones that do, though, are takers – they aren’t giving in the relationship so much as they are taking from those around them.

Share Your Light

Here’s the thing – we all have a lot of ‘brightness’ in ourselves. Doesn’t matter if you are someone who loves to read quietly or someone who loves to be loud and interact with everyone. We all have gifts to share, light to lend. It doesn’t have to be much; it just has to be genuine.

So, if you are demanding the spotlight, you might want to change your approach. You are already shining brightly – you don’t need the extra light! Instead, make your light brighter by sharing your light with others.

On the flipside, if you are walking around hiding your light, you are taking something important away from those around you – your true self and gifts. We all have light within us – and we need you to share it!

Have a bright week ahead, everyone!

 

Camp in Winter

Posted Friday, January 11th, 2019 by

I’m happy we run camp in the summer. As I sit at our kitchen table having just walked camp, the temperature gauge is resting at 9 degrees. Dry snow everywhere, ice on the lake, and a cold wind blowing.

Brr!

That said, camp continues to live on. We’ll spend a chunk of tomorrow with 200 of our Weequahic crew in NYC. In two weeks, the party will be in the DC area with close to 60 friends, new and old. Then we head to Florida for the southern side of things. It’s going to be a great, camp-filled next few weeks.

Keep the Fire Going

While we gather around the campfire each Friday night during the summers, I hope a little bit of that flame still burns on in the hearts and minds of our campers (and staff) as they move through the year. There, we talk showing gratitude, choosing your attitude, and developing courage.

We laugh. We think. And, most importantly, we sit TOGETHER, side by side. Campers young and old, staff new and long-time are truly with one another while we ponder and celebrate in a special spot.

I wish we had more of these moments during the year. But, the memories of Friday nights at camp can keep us warm during the winter months.

Sure, a few lessons may have been helpful – the lessons of a pencil, binoculars vs. mirrors, a life of thank you notes, filling up your bucket in order to fill up others….

The greatest lesson, however, comes in just simply being together. No technology to distract. No neon lights flashing or cars buzzing along. Instead, it’s the occasional song of a bird, the lapping of the lake, the crackle of the fire that fills us.

So, as the days grow shorter and the air gets colder, take a few moments to remember our time at the lake. Then, spend a few more on the laughter and time spent together with friends from near and far.

Do this often enough and not only will you fill yourself up with warmth and light, you’ll start shining for others, too. Have a great week!

A New Start

Posted Sunday, January 6th, 2019 by

We are just about a week into the New Year – hope it’s been a happy beginning for you!

Looking back over the past week, have you started 2019 the way you intended? If not, don’t worry. I missed the first Campfire post of the year, my desk is a mess and the leaves still haven’t raked themselves…. We all have room for improvement!

New Beginnings

What are you going to do in the new year? We’ve not had a 2019 before – it’s a fresh palate, a new canvas, a calm lake.

What kind of ripples are you going to make? Are they going to spread out through your personal puddle, touching only the sand and leaves that surround it? Or, are you going to be a part of a big pond and have your ripples compliment those around you who are making waves of their own?

Are you going to compare yourself with others? Careful… comparison is the thief of joy. Rather, how often will you celebrate the victories, small and large, of those around you? Caring for others before yourself will make you more unique – and significant – than you realize.

Will the little person in your head that spouts terrible, draining, and impatient noise win out over the big person that actually drives your actions? Or, will that calming, patient, and uplifting voice from the big person triumph?

It’s a struggle we all face daily. Remember, the voice you feed with your attention the most will win out.

Act It Out

Finally, I’ll leave you with the thought which made the biggest impact on me this past year. It’s something I’ve always known but had forgotten:

It’s easier to act your way into a new way of thinking than it is to think your way into a new way of acting.

Want to get better at something? Start now. Want to be kinder to your siblings or parents or friends? Stop thinking about it and just do it. Want to live a more grateful 2019 than ’18? Want to get strongStart writing down your ‘thankfuls’ and sharing them with the people who matter.

You’ll find your mind follows your actions. And so will your mood.

So, as we move into this brand-spanking New Year –  shoulders back, chin up, and smile at everyone coming your way. You get to decide how you act and think in the world. Why let that kind of gift go to waste?

Have a wonderful end to 2018 and start to 2019. Let’s make it a great year… together!