Month: February 2019

Necessary Boredom

Here’s a fun conversation starter: In sixty seconds, tell me how many ways a cat and a refrigerator are alike. Go!

Both purr, produce heat, are cold towards humans, hold milk and cream, can have hair balls…. You get the idea.

Why do this? First of all, it’s funny. Secondly, it requires that you get rid of the conventions that you’ve built up over time in your head. Finally, if you do this as a team, it’ll really start to get the creative juices going.

Paper Clips

Did you know that 98% of five-year-old kids come up with 100 ways to use a paper clip over the course of one hour? Guess how many 35-year-olds could do the same. (The answer is 2%!)

Sir Ken Robinson, he of Ted Talk fame, tells of this study in an attempt to explain divergent thinking. This is not the same thing as creativity, or as Sir Ken says it, “the process of having original ideas that have value.” Rather, it’s an important aspect of creativity – being able to see the same thing… differently.

When I walk through the Boys’ bunks at night, there are a lot of examples of divergent thinking. Tennis courts laid out with duct tape on the bunk floor. Towels hung from the ceiling to change bunk beds into forts. Little pieces of tape everywhere (including the porch) marking the place from which someone had made a nerf hoop basket. And, don’t get me started about porch ball….

The girls are no different. I’ve seen BBG played hundreds of times and I still have little idea on how it’s played but they sure do. The few moments that I’m allowed to watch Panic, our girls’ favorite skit game, easily displays divergent thinking. (Plus, ladies… c’mon. I don’t sound THAT southern….) The costumes they create for Twinner Dinner with all 11 in a bunk together? Stunning!

Creativity at Camp

Creativity at camp comes from a number of sources. First, we remove a whole lot of external stimuli – no phones, precious few screens, and no homework. Secondly, we’ve got great support and encouragement from the counselors to stretch those creative muscles. Finally, we give the group a chance to be either bored.

Yes… I said it – I don’t mind a little boredom at camp.

It inspires creativity, especially in a community that really comes together. Without these moments of ‘umm… what are we going to do?’, we wouldn’t have Bench Ball, BBG, Night at the Races, Trash Bag Fashion, Queen’s Request or dozens of other fun ideas.

So, knowing all of the benefits of boredom and the power of divergent thinking, how can we get more creative back home? It’ll take three c’s: courage to actually put the phones down and turn off the tv, connection with each other and, finally, a bit of creative thinking.

Have a creative week!

Love Letter from Camp Weequahic

Dear Parents,

Hi. This is Camp Weequahic. (Yes, the actual place – not that crazy guy Cole who runs around all the time.) I know we don’t talk much this time of year. Hey – it’s really cold and I’m not one for talking much.

But, in mid-winter, I get a chance to think a bunch without all the commotion of the summer.  One thing I realized I need to express to you is this: thank you.

Thank you for sending your children to come play on my grounds, learn in my classrooms, & swim in my lake. I’ve been around for a long time and each summer feels like the first.

Starting in April, all these great young men and women pour over me for several weeks, giving my grass a cut, fixing up the little dings from Mother Nature’s winter, preparing great things for the coming party.

These staff members get so excited when talking and thinking and planning about the kids arriving. I do, too.

And then it happens: cars and buses arrive full of kids! Young and old, new and returning, happy and (a few) fearful. They arrive from all over the place – different backgrounds, different experiences, different states and countries…. It’s so much fun!

What amazes me is how the pageantry and party of the first day transitions into the ‘normal flow of awesomeness’ so quickly. My Dining Hall literally rocks with the singing and dancing. My fields are full. My arts facilities smell of paint and clay and wood dust. And it all just works and sings and shines, no matter the weather.

(Yes, my grass gets pummeled but I’m here to help grow great kids, not grow grass….)

I can’t tell you happy it makes this old camp to host so much love and joy and laughter and learning. It’s a gift to see these children grow into young adults. It’s even more fun to see so many return as staff members to help the next generation of campers grow into independent, courageous, competent, and confident people.

Parents, I’m old enough to realize that this would not happen without your trust and your desire to give your child the gift of summer camp. Without you, I’d probably be a condo complex or sub-division or field for cows to enjoy. Being a place where kids come to learn and grow is so much better.

Your kids are a gift to me. And the community they get to create at summer camp is a worthy launching pad for their limitless futures. I can’t wait to see what they have in store me this coming summer.

So, since it’s Valentines Day, I wanted to express all this to you.


Camp Weequahic

Now. Here. This.

As you can imagine, there are a lot announcements during a day Camp Weequahic. Not all start the same, though.

In the dining hall or around the flagpole, you’ll hear ‘THREE, TWO, ONE, SHHHhhhh….’ to get everyone’s attention. For the activity day announcements, you’ll hear music from the speakers and the melodious voices of our office team. Moo Call is announced with, well… mooing. (Seriously!)

It wasn’t always this way. In fact, not too long ago ‘Now hear this’ was used to get everyone’s attention. You’d hear it barked through megaphones and read it in newsprint. It was everywhere, normal.

Father Greg Boyle, founder of the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world, wrote a book that captured me for a week. In it, he uses this ‘Now hear this’ phrase in a different way.


We often get caught up revisiting and reliving the past or imagining the future. Some of this is certainly useful.

Reviewing our past mistakes to learn the lessons therein is useful. Remembering times when we did something really well leads to confidence. So does imagining ourselves doing something perfectly in the future.

But when we get caught in those spots, we fail to live our lives now. And, when we fail to be totally immersed in the ‘right now’ we miss opportunities, delights and simple joys.


Be where your feet are. I’ve noticed this saying a lot lately. Rather than focusing on somewhere else, be fully immersed in where you are.

Walking around camp the first few days of the session, you’ll find a few campers thinking about home. It’s completely natural and missing home is a real thing. Rather than being ‘where their feet are’, these campers have one foot at camp and another back home.

Like Mr. Myagi said, you can’t walk down the middle of the road. You’ve got to choose one side or the other. At Camp Weequahic, we do everything we can to help our campers revel in being ‘here.’


What you are doing right now is important. Doesn’t matter if you are making your bed, laughing with your friends, or learning a new skill.

We spend a lot of time in our own heads. Even when someone is in front of us, we are often making lists of things to do, thinking about what’s for dinner, or looking around. Often, we are thinking about our response to what they are saying rather than truly listening.

Whatever is in front of you deserves your attention. (Except for your phone. Put that down. J) Focus completely on what is in front of you.

The more we practice the Now. Here. This. Idea, the more joy you’ll get and give to the world around you. Yes, there is a need to review the past and dream of the future. Careful, though, that you don’t sacrifice the present.

 “Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow has not yet come. We have only today. Let us begin.” – Mother Teresa


PS – Amit Ray said, “If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” I enjoyed a great campfire conversation with Bob Ditter about just this topic. I hope you’ll take a few moments to listen.