Month: May 2019

Memorial Day

In running a few errands for the kitchen late this afternoon, I passed a lovely church and its cemetery.

Several men and women were bent over working with weed whackers, racks, and shovels removing up the winter debris. Others were cleaning gravestones and affixing small American flags. They do this in honor of those who have come before them and fallen in the line of service.

Benjamin Disraeli once said, “The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.”

Remember those who came before us is something we ought to do more often.

Camp Memorial

Taking a walk around Weequahic this evening after dinner, the idea of Memorial Day struck me hard. I had just spoken with an alumnus of Weequahic whose son is coming to camp for the first time. The conversation led to speaking about the Lustig and Seffer families who got this whole party going.

Most of us never met Mr. Al Lustig. He was a teacher and coach at Weequahic High School in Newark, NJ. The story, as I understand it, was that Mr. Lustig was a bit of a ‘pied piper’, someone who instructed and taught in all the right ways.

In the early 1950’s, Mr. Lustig was encouraged to find a piece of property that would become a summer camp for kids. In 1952, Mr. Lustig closed on the 110 acres of farm land and opened the doors of Camp Weequahic in June, 1953.

From 1953 until 2008, the Mr. and Mrs. Lustig, along with and preceded by their children and grandchildren, built Weequahic into a thriving spot for children. The traditions of Tribals and Olympics, Moo Call and Canteen Raids, Campfire and Burning the W… all came from our founding family.

Mr. and Mrs. Lustig have passed as have Mr. and Mrs. Seffer. The work they and the rest of the founding family of Weequahic completed set us on the path to where we are now – a thriving place that cares for children by behaving gratefully, choosing your attitude, and building courage.

They were the heroes who got us going, who put in the work, and had the vision of what this place could become in time. I hope they are looking down and smiling now.

Happy Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day weekend, I’d first like to honor all of the men and women who have fallen in service of our country. Without you, we could not enjoy camp as we do in the Land of the Free, Home of the Brave. Secondly, I’d like to thank the extended Lustig family for their vision of Weequahic. Without you all, we’d not have such a unique place to call our summer home.

Have a safe and wonderful weekend, y’all. Can’t wait for camp!

Choose To Be Brave

“Scared is what you’re feeling. Brave is what you’re doing.” – Emma Donoghue, Room

Two summers ago, I witnessed a ‘standout’ act of bravery. One of our girls had a hard moment on the ‘pamper pole’, a forty-foot telephone pole that you are supposed to climb up, stand on top of, and jump off. (Yes, you are very well harnessed!)

She had made it to the top. However, rather than standing up, she literally curled herself around the platform, belly and face looking down at the ground 40’ below, and her legs and arms wrapped around the top of the pole. Tears intermittently rained down while her head shook from side to side. It was ‘full stop.’

After a bit of conversation, one of the instructors harnessed up and climbed up next to her. About two minutes later, she was standing wobbly on the top. A minute after that, there was a leap, a scream, lots laughter, cheers and the biggest smile I’ve ever seen slowly returning to earth.

“I was terrified!” she said when I asked her about the experience. “But Sarah got there and promised I’d be ok and that I needed to be brave and trust her that I could do it. Oh my gosh… I’m so happy I did it!”

Fear and Bravery

Here’s the thing about fear: it doesn’t go away. It’s our ability to take the fear we are feeling and move forward with our purpose that makes us brave. And that bravery, the actions we take when feeling fear, is what opens up our world.

Fear affects us all. Going into a situation where we do not know anyone else or don’t have an idea how it will turn out. Putting our knowledge ‘on the line’ by taking a test or playing a recital or joining in tournament. Spending the night out at a friend’s house… or going camp.

When we fear, we focus on ourselves. We get ‘insular.’ And the best way to keep the fear strong? Keep staring at ‘yourself’ – your problems, your fears, your self-perceived short comings.

Want to get through the fear? Try this:

Recognize your fear. Name it and make it the object. (You are the subject.) Rather than ‘I’m afraid’ say, ‘I’m feeling fear about getting out of my comfort zone.’

Once you’ve recognized your fear, say I’m not going to let fear stop me from xxx.” You don’t have to love what you’ve decided to do. But once you’ve decided to write that kind note, speak up about something that should be changed, or try waterskiing, don’t let the fear you are feeling stop you.

Then, get after it! Focus on the end result you want and remain open to other inputs coming in. In other words, rather than constantly focusing on the fear you are feeling, spend your energy and focus on what you want to occur and those around you.

A few things will happen with this approach:

  1. The fear won’t go away and it won’t feel as big any more.
  2. You’ll learn that you can do things that, at first, you don’t think possible.
  3. Those who celebrate your efforts are a lot more important than those who try to tear you down for trying.

As old Winston used to say, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Be brave. It’s a choice and an important one at that.