Dr. Tim Elmore is someone I enjoy following. In a recent blog post, he talks about the 14 skills every young person should own before leaving ‘the nest.’ While some of the items aren’t covered at camp – we don’t teach balancing a budget – many skills are practiced, honed, and owned at Weequahic.
This past summer, campers developed distinct skills. We learned to build new friendships, developed deeper levels of empathy by living together, exercised our ability to choose an attitude as modeled by our staff, and deepened our courage by trying new things away from the safety of home.
Yes, we learned to waterski, climb a wall, project our voice, throw a pot, and more. However, these skills are secondary to the primary importance of the personal and interpersonal skills we fostered together.
Cooking a Meal
Most of us learned to cook real food. Sure, we enjoyed some playtime in the kitchen – who didn’t love the s’more fondue?! But, we also learned how to truly cook and clean, an important skill set for the future.
We developed an understanding that we really don’t need a lot. Dr. Elmore talks about ‘minimizing our needs.’ This is an important mindset both when you are starting out – you don’t have a lot anyway – and as you age. At camp, it’s a bag of clothes, a good pair of shoes, bedding for a small bed, and a whole bunch of friends. No phones, no video games, no malls….
For three or six weeks, we were reminded that life can be better with less.
Managing Our Schedule
Because of our choice-based program, we learned to manage our own schedules. That, combined with living away from home, is the single biggest factor in the growth of your independence. You get to decide what you’d like to do.
Is there structure? Of course. But camp provided a wonderful opportunity to practice using your voice over your choice.
While it may have been grudgingly, we learned how to clean. Admiral William McRaven wrote a wonderful short book on changing the world… by first making your bed. While the first thing we do is get breakfast, we all must make our bed, help with our chores, and put on sunscreen before starting the day.
Finally, we learned to value people. Let’s think back to a few paragraphs above. Without the people we love and with whom we laugh, camp is pretty pointless. Henry David Thoreau said, “The language of friendship is not words but meanings.” Woodrow Wilson also had something good to say about friendship: “it’s the only cement that will hold the world together.”
The relationships we fostered, whether they started for the first time or were rekindled a 10th time, will warm our lives for a long time.
Hone Your Skills
Campers, take these skills you learned this summer and practice them at home. Make your bed, clean your room, smile (with meaning) at those around you. Continue to develop your courage, empathy, and independence. Value all around you and seek those who will continue to lovingly push you to develop in all ways. And, be aware and grateful for the gifts in your life.
You learned the basics at Weequahic this summer. Now go make them yours out in the world!