Archive for March, 2019

What Game Are You Playing?

Posted Friday, March 29th, 2019 by

Games have taken over the world, haven’t they? I remember playing checkers with Granddaddy as a boy. My brother and I made up games in the woods or on the beach. Dad would throw footballs for hours with us. We played Ms. PacMan and Mike Tyson’s Punchout on the Atari for as long as our parents could stand the music.

(I believe the record was about 34 minutes….)

Now, all of pop-culture seems to be screaming about Fortnite, the Final Four and Game of Thrones. Games certainly take up a lot of our attention. In fact, I’ve found myself looking at the scores in the WGC Dell Match Play championship writing this!

Those games, the physical ones we can all participate in, are not what I’m talking about with the title to this piece. Instead, I want to focus our attention on the social, mental and emotional games we are playing.

Your Billboard

Tim Ferriss, the writer and podcaster, asks almost all of his guests this question: if you were given a billboard and could write something up there for everyone to see, what message would you offer? Graham Duncan, a recent guest, brought up a quote from Kwame Anthony Appiah:

In life, the challenge is not so much to figure out how best to play the game; the challenge is to figure out what game you’re playing.

In the podcast, Graham talks about the games of ‘making money’ and ‘building power.’ Those games aren’t in your wheelhouse right now, camper.

That’s not to say that you aren’t playing any games, though.

What’s Your Game?

Is your game ‘I want to look good to the teachers and just get by’ or ‘I want to learn as much as I can regardless of what it looks like?’ Perhaps you are older and playing ‘whatever I can do to get into college x.’ Or maybe you are playing the ‘I’m scared and I don’t want anyone else to know’ game.

We all play games, kiddos. Your parents (and your camp director) do, too.

Some games are easy to play without even knowing it. Trying to keep up with those around you that you deem to be doing better in whatever we than you. Going along with the herd. Those are easy to do… and not always worthwhile.

The game I would have you play? Here are two ideas:

  • How can I make a positive difference in someone else’s life today?
  • What I can do to become a better ‘me’ today?

I was going to write down a few more. The more I think about the important games we can play, though, the more I believe these are the two most valuable. If you ‘win’ at each of those games each day, the world around you gets better. And that ripple effect will surely be a powerful thing.

Campers, it’s the quality of the relationships in our lives that matter most. That idea has been proven by both life and science.

Therefore, if you want to lead a life of meaning, fill it full of games that draw you nearer to those you love and the person you want to become. We all play. Choose your game wisely.

Have a great week!

Look Up

Posted Friday, March 22nd, 2019 by

Go to any spot where a lot of people are moving around you’ll see something that used to happen only rarely: people walking with their heads bowed down. College student walking through campus, professionals crossing streets. There even men and women riding bikes and driving cars… all with their heads bowed down.

In the past, this scene was only available at monasteries, abbeys, and convents. The monks and nuns, heads bowed, were walking and worshipping, their aim focused on their God.

I fear we are walking and aiming, too. but on things a bit less important.

Choose Your Aim

Everyone aims. Whether you’ve got a bow and arrow in your hands, a needle to thread, or a potential friend in your sights, you are aiming. Your focus is on the end goal and giving that goal your attention is a huge part of what you ultimately complete.

Campers, what we aim at is important because ‘it’, the goal we want, shapes us. That which we reach for, that to which we give our attention changes us. In fact, this process of aiming even modifies the important stories we tell ourselves.

If our aim is noble, progressing towards that aim point is what brings positive emotion.  If we have no purposeful aim, no focus on some one thing other than to be entertained, then we are just blundering about. Where is the joy in that?

How do we aim? With the eyes in our head and the ‘eye’ in heart. What we seek out with our eyes will affect what we feel in our hearts and vice versa. Take a moment and think, really think, about what you are looking for, head bowed over your phone?

Look Up

One of the joys of being at Camp Weequahic is the surrounding. I’ve heard many a camper, staff member and parent comment on the beauty of the place (and how good the air smells!)

I agree, the place is beautiful. We have towering pines, lots of squirrels, birds, fish and chipmunks. The sky at night is filled with stars we rarely see and we are surrounded by stars who shine even brighter – the people of Weequahic.

With our eyes up and away from our phones, we see everyone around us. We start to live in the moment, fully open to the present which, at camp, certainly feels like a present!

This only happens when we look up and around us. With our aim pointed towards those around us, we are on a path that leads to true connection.

The path on our phone? It may help with connection. But does it really? It may give us access to enormous amounts of information. But is it information we truly need? It certainly gives us a lot to look at. But should that be our aim?

Campers, look up and around you. And help me do the same.

Have a great week!

You Don’t Have to Fit In

Posted Friday, March 15th, 2019 by

Our team often turns to Dr. Brene Brown when thinking about camp. We’ve read all her books, thought about how her ideas can help shape our culture, and bounced ideas off of her work. One of the big points we keep coming back to is ‘fitting in’ vs. ‘belonging.’

From an Oprah.com article:

“(C)ontrary to what most of us think: Belonging is not fitting in. In fact, fitting in is the greatest barrier to belonging. Fitting in, I’ve discovered during the past decade of research, is assessing situations and groups of people, then twisting yourself into a human pretzel in order to get them to let you hang out with them.

Belonging is something else entirely—it’s showing up and letting yourself be seen and known as you really are….”

Belonging at Weequahic

The idea of belonging is one that drives us at Camp Weequahic. Our campers come from 13 different states and 14 different countries. Each one is different from the next – tall and short, young and old, English speaker and Texan speaker.

Some kids have a lot of camp in their family history while others are jumping in for the first time. Even the handful of twins we have are different people.

So, how do we ‘fit in’ when camp is so diverse? First, by accepting the fact that you already belong. Second, by living out the values of gratitude, attitude and courage. And, third, by having a blast alongside everyone else.

Out There

Yes, it’s easier to feel you belong at camp. We get to create a bubble that shields us from the comparison trap easily found out in the ‘real-world.’ Your clothes, social media presence, grades, background… none of that matters at camp.

What matters is you having a blast alongside everyone around you, treating others with kindness, and striving to grow.

Out there, it’s harder. We all fall into habits and routines that drive us, sometimes blindly, through each day. A snapchat post here, homework there, comparing test scores with that kid, sitting with the same people at lunch.

We want to band together, form a tribe that will keep us ‘safe.’ We just want to fit in. (I know – I do it all the time.) We don’t want to stand out. Wear the same clothes, show up at the same time, ignore the same people, be nice to the same people….

Here’s the thing, though – anyone who made an impact on the world around them didn’t fit in.

Standing Out

The little lady who saved so many in Sri Lanka? She knew she belonged and just did the work.

The man with the funny hair who played the violin (badly) and was dyslexic? He figured out so many big problems that he didn’t have time to worry about what others thought.

The leader who walks around in a robe all day who has written books, played with children, and climbed mountains.*

If you get to the base facts, it’s pretty simple. We’re all humans. We all live on earth. We all share the same air, are warmed by the same sun, and profit from the same blood in our veins.

You don’t have to fit in. You already belong. Have a great week!

*Can you guess who I was talking about? It’s Mother Teresa, Dr. Einstein, and the Dalai Lama

Welcome to the Party

Posted Friday, March 8th, 2019 by

I’m a big fan of learning throughout the year using podcasts. These bite-sized reminders, new info, and interesting stories always give me something to think about. (And, if you’d like to try a new one about the lessons of summer camp, check out the one we are doing: Campfire Conversation.)

Kate and I spent several hours listening to a recent talk between Tim Ferriss and his guest, Graham Duncan. There was a lot in the talk about finding the best people for your team – something we research a lot at Weequahic. Not so important for our campers.

However, there were three points I thought were perfect ‘campfire’ ideas to share.

Subject or Object

Don’t worry – this is not a grammar lesson. (Mrs. Leary, my 11th grade English teacher, still gives me the shivers….)

This idea is all about how you see yourself in relation to what’s going on around you. For instance, it could be pouring down rain. You’ve got two choices in this situation: it’s all about the rain (It’s raining and that stinks!) in which case the rain. In this case, it’s the subject.  Or, you can flip the script a bit and make the ‘rain’ become the object as in ‘Hm… I get to go splash in the puddles!’

The fancy way to say this is you are moving the ‘locus of control’ to yourself rather than putting it outside yourself onto something you can’t control. This has a lot to do with attitude and choosing how you react.

Bring It On

This is a great idea to use when you know you are about to go through something uncomfortable or, gulp… painful.

Let’s say it’s your turn to run the mile in PE class. You never liked running and your normal ‘self-talk’ is to say ‘I really don’t like to run.’ This time, try something different:

Rub your hands together, smile, and say ‘bring it on!’

This won’t make you a world-class middle distance runner. However, it WILL give you the best chance of doing your best.

Here’s the thing, you either bounce off of pain like it’s a wall or you get through to the other side. If you create a habit of ‘bring it on!’, you’ll start to get to the ‘other side’ of the discomfort.

Welcome to the Party

‘Welcome to the party. I’m your amiable host.” I love this idea because it makes me think about the first day of camp. We get stand up with all our campers and yell ‘welcome to the party!’

When taken in the right context, everything is our ‘party’ as our senses draw everything in towards us. So, with this in mind, welcome to the party joy and pain, contentment and fear, bravery and anxiety. I’m your friendly host, let’s rock it out.

Graham, in the podcast, talks about his young son leaving his parents’ bedroom late one night saying, “Welcome to the party, ‘scared of the dark!’” He got back in bed and went right off to sleep.

If it’s a party and everyone is invited, you get to be the type of host you want. Want to welcome experiences in a friendly way and shoo out anything that doesn’t fit? Or, do you want to sit back, let everything come at you and hang around, whether you want them to stay or not?

You get to choose. Welcome to the party!

Hat tip: Graham Duncan and Tim Ferriss

Road Signs

Posted Friday, March 1st, 2019 by

On a recent trip to West Virginia, Jack and I got to ‘enjoy’ the most winding, vertically challenging, foggy roads I’ve ever driven. To make matters more interesting, this was at night and at the end of an eight-hour journey.

For 90 minutes, we had switch backs and hairpins. Down the side of one mountain and up the side of the next. The experience moved from hair-raising to giggle-inducing and, finally, into quiet determination – for both of us.

You know what kept us safe on a night we could see only about 100 feet in front of us? Lots of road signs.

The Road Ahead

After settling into our hotel room and turning off the lights, I was still too jazzed to sleep. (Jackie-boy had no such problems.) As I lay there thinking about the crazy roads and the bright signs, it dawned on me: that road-trip was a lot like becoming an adult.

We knew our final destination. And, at the beginning, all was easy. The highways were clearly laid out, the sun shining, and several good options for breaks and rest. Kind of like growing up – work hard at school, play by the rules, play time with friends, etc.

All was fine and dandy with the regular bumps in the road until the darkness fell. There was some traffic, a poorly timed bathroom break, some bad radio. Just like growing up: some friend-drama, (a few) failed quizzes, some mistakes I needed to make.

But, for the most part, fine sailing. Then, just like the road at the end of our journey, there arrives moment after moment of confusion and darkness.

For me, this started during in the first few years of college and ended… well, I’m not sure that it has!

You head out on your own for the first time. You start to make choices for yourself and the path forward is not as clear. In fact, sometimes, the path ahead can barely be found, even with all the looking you can muster.

That’s when it is so important to have bright road signs to point the way.

Your Signs

We all have signs, many of which are created when you are growing in your family, in your school, and in your camp. I can’t speak about what you’ve learned at the first two (though I can wager a pretty good guess), I can remind you what you are learning at Weequahic.

  1. A grateful heart is a happy heart.
  2. You get to choose your attitude.
  3. Courage is a muscle – use it or lose it.
  4. Be kind – it’s a choice, not a feeling.

So how do these habits become road signs for those dark and foggy days of your future? I’m glad you asked.

When you are grateful for all that you have – air in lungs, a supportive family, a bunch of opportunity, and so much more – you approach challenges with a better frame of mind. You are more likely to pick an attitude that will help rather than hinder your progress.

With courage, you’ll approach the challenges ready to reach out for help and expand your self-set limits. And, the more kind you are to all those around you, the more likely you are to have help happily offered.

My Signs

You’ll have a lot more signs in front of your if you pay attention. People with whom you work and study, opportunities that are scary and important.

You won’t have a lot of clear vision past the next turn. I say this is a former college golf coach, fund-raiser, frozen yogurt pourer, youth team coach, student, farmhand, substitute teacher and camp director. The signs laid out by my parents, teachers and mentors gave me direction in those foggy moments when I could have steered wrong.

Camper, take some time now to reflect on the signs building in your life. The path ahead is winding and not always clear. But, taken with the right attitude, it’ll be (mostly) fun and they’ll be plenty of road signs along the way.

Have a grateful week!