Archive for September, 2019

WIN

Posted Friday, September 20th, 2019 by

Win. Yes, that’s what we do at Weequahic. We only win. All the time. At everything. Basketball, football, dance, the swim meets, archery competitions, Color War. You name it, we win. All the ti….

What do you mean we don’t? Hm… you know, maybe we don’t win all the time. But we should. Let’s break it down so you see what I mean.

W.I.N.

The acronym is short for ‘What’s Important Now?’ It’s a useful and powerful question. It strips away everything else and asks you to focus on two things: context and aim.

To answer the question, you’ve got to look around and get an inventory of what’s really happening right now. Are your emotions running amok? Is your list of things to do longer than your arm? What are your teammates, family members, teachers, or friends going through?

Once you get a true sense of what’s going on around you, then switch to the end result you want: finishing the art project, helping the play be a success, scoring the goal, or making that new person feel welcome.

Take those two pieces of information into account – context and aim – and then answer the question: what’s important now? Going through this process will help you determine what’s important and how to act. It helps to remove the emotion and assists you in thinking logically through the situation.

Golf Lesson

As a high school senior, I was a good golfer. Captain of our small team, I was following in the footsteps of two older golfers who’d won individual state titles and Player of the Year honors. I knew I was not to their level… which was the problem my coach helped me fix.

Sitting around our his table (he was also the school’s headmaster) and talking about the upcoming Region Championship, he looked around at the six of us and laid out a specific rule.

“If you find yourself in the woods or in a bad situation, I want everyone to take the easy way out back to the fairway,” Coach Chambers said. We all looked at him and nodded.

And then Coach pointed at me. “Except for you. If you think you can make it, go for it.”

Perfect Advice… Twice

Wow. Talk about answering the ‘what’s important now’ question! He knew a couple of the team members needed to be reigned in. And, he knew that I needed a shot of confidence, of belief. He knew I needed permission.

You know what I did on the first hole that next day, brimming with the confidence Coach had just shown in me? I made a seven on a par four… with a four putt. It was UGLY. And embarrassing. And frustrating.

Walking to the next tee, Coach put his hand on my shoulder, smiled, and said, “What’s important now is that you focus on what you want to do with this next shot. After that, focus only on the next shot. And then the next. And so on… you’ll get it.”

Because I trusted him, I did. And, because I did, I played the next 17 holes four under par and won the tournament, my first ‘big’ win.

Coach helped me WIN.

Winning at Camp & Home

We think camp can help you WIN, too.

At Weequahic, we have a bunch of incredible staff members who help our campers remember to ask ‘what’s important now.’ We help everyone bring their emotions down a notch or three, survey the situation and ask the question in relationship to their end goal.

This happens in the bunk where we want to create a summer family, on the stage when we want to try something new, on the wall pushing through a self-set limit and so many other spots around camp.

At home, though, those amazing near-peers aren’t often available. But their voice and their memory still exists inside your head. I’m sure they’d be whispering, smile on their face, “What’s important now?”

Whether it’s give a high five, sit down and do your homework, ask for forgiveness or clean the dishes, go ahead and do it. Figure out the one thing you need to do and you’ll make some progress to your end goal.

That’ll help you win at home just as often as you do at camp. Now… go out there and be a WINner! See you next week.

Shine and Dance

Posted Friday, September 13th, 2019 by

Heading to school with our oldest who is driving on his temporary driver’s permit, something caught my eye. We’ve done the trip together 80 times or so with me in the passenger seat and I’d not seen this before.

On the right side of the road, a regular, every day road sign was glimmering and dancing, like it was alive and producing light from the inside. Of course, it wasn’t. It was just a road sign. But yet dance and shine it did. It’s play of light was fun to watch for the five seconds it took us to pass by.

I looked expectantly at the next sign, about 250 yards up the road. It stood stolidly in place, showing it’s warning and nothing else.

Of course, the dancing sign was moving because the wind was hitting it just right. And it was glowing because the angle of the rising sun made its reflective properties come alive. And yet that combination of factors made the properties of that normal, everyday sign come alive and show something… beautiful.

Coming Alive

I think we’d all agree that there is equal worth in every human. Considering you are 99.9% alike genetically with everyone else on earth, I hope you’ll agree! And yet, despite that almost indistinguishable sameness, we are so different. Different looks, colors, innate talents and predilections.

What it takes to make one person’s talents, interests, and whole-being come alive is different than the next and the next and the next.

The key is to keep looking for those moments and situations that draws out the best, the true, the pure inside. Like that sign coming alive, it takes a combination of factors. I would posit it takes the melding of community and aim.

Community

At camp, we get to create a ‘kids focused’ community. We aren’t worried about test scores, sports results, fashion faux pas, or work. It’s all about the kids… and the staff. We’ve shown at Weequahic that kids with different accents, languages, experience and knowledge can get along beautifully.

As songwriter Ani DiFranco has said, “I know there is strength in the differences between us. I know there is comfort, where we overlap.”

For us, that overlap is the central idea of worth, isn’t it? We come together already knowing each of us is valuable beyond measure, full of joy and potential. We just need the right combination to set all that good free.

So, we come together and form a community with enormous potential. What unlocks that stored potential is the aim.

Aim

When we are all pulling together towards a common goal, we create a sum greater than our parts. We create waves and currents that scoop up others to join in, something together that is meaningful, wonderful, and so much fun. We take that community and make something more: a family.

At Weequahic, we use the ideas of gratitude, attitude and courage. We’ve found these ideas to be bedrock principles on which we can build a community that turns into a family, especially when ‘fun’ is the mortar that holds it all together.

When we combine ‘community’ and ‘aim’, we get a whole of shine and a whole lot of dance. We get people young and old who come alive, aware of their true selves and open to honestly showing the world.

Challenge

So, the trick, then, is figuring out how to create that same combination of factors when we aren’t at camp, isn’t it? How do we build a community around ourselves in the world that is full of people busied by their own lives, aspirations, and pains?

Intentionally. Thoughtfully. Courageously.

Collect the people around you that help bring out the best. People who challenge you, hold you accountable, love on you, and support you. Friends who’ll laugh along with you and cry by your side. Those who’ll be open and honest and listen when you are brave enough to speak.

Be patient in building this community back home. It takes thought and effort and the bravery to be open. But, creating a environment that helps you dance and shine may be the most important thing you can do. Not only will it unlock you but it will help others enjoy the show. Have a great week!

Weequahic at the Bridge

Posted Friday, September 6th, 2019 by

I was recently introduced to Horatius at the Bridge, a poem written in the 1800s by Thomas Babington. It depicts a battle in ancient Rome. Three men, led by Horatius, volunteer to hold the foes as they tried to cross the only narrow bridge across the Tiber and into the city.

As a horde of thousands gather to cross the bridge, all looks lost. Horatius looks at his commander and says: 

“Hew down the bridge, Sir Consul,

  With all the speed ye may;

I, with two more to help me, 

  Will hold the foe in play.

In yon straight path a thousand

  May well be stopped by three:

Now who will stand on either hand,

  And keep the bridge with me.”

The poem in its entirety speaks to my romantic side as well as my affinity for the Roman and Greek myths of old. This passage, however, is yelling at me in a different, more relevant way for today.

The World We’ve Built

Parents, the ‘world’ in which we grew was very different than the one we’ve made for our children. Technology, of course, is at the forefront of this change.

A great deal of this change is certainly an improvement. When I feel the desire to rail against the advances of the modern world, I think of writer AJ Jacobs’s admonishment: “Repeat after me: surgery without anesthesia.”

With the host of advantages our ever-modernizing world delivers, there come a few challenges as well. Two things, in particular, jump out at me: the images our kiddos see on a daily basis and the lack of real-life human interaction in our young people’s lives.

The photoshopped and filtered perfect worlds, clothes, parties and bodies of ‘influencers’ is something we never had to contend with. Sure, we got to see the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous once a week and could thumb through People or Sports Illustrated. But these images were a small part of our weekly digestion. Now, new images – and the self-comparisons they inevitably create – are a thumb swipe away all day, every day.

Screen time is certainly having an effect on our young people and it’s not very positive.

The fall of free-play with friends and true connections with interested near-peers and adults is having disastrous effects. There have been several studies confirming the rise of anxiety and depression in our kids. As writer Kim Brooks recently reported, “kids have fewer opportunities to practice social-emotional skills.”

In simpler terms, we’ve taken away the opportunity for our kids to play, create, and interact in the places and ways we did and their grandparents did as children. This deficit is truly harming our kids’ futures.

At the Bridge

Valiant Horatius had only two companions at the narrow bridge into Rome. That proved enough.

The bridge to our future is much wider and requires more people standing shoulder to shoulder. Thankfully, at Weequahic, we have our two hundred staff members who choose to live by our values of gratitude, attitude, courage, and kindness. And, we’ve got a huge cohort of families who feel the same way.

With the help of our families and staff, Weequahic will continue to pick and choose the most beneficial of our ever-growing technologic powers for our community and shun the rest. We’ll set the standard of behavior (and dress) that draws our kids’ community together in reflection of our values rather than apart by comparison. And, we’ll continue to foster growth and creativity through play and laughter, challenge and training, community and connection.

Parents, thank you for standing at the bridge with us. And, thank you for helping us support SCOPE who is making this same stand available to others.

Let’s keep it up… together. Have a great week!