Month: October 2019

A Technical, Traditional Future

You are probably familiar with the ‘yin yang’ symbol. It represents how two seemingly opposite ideas, forces, or what-have-you, may actually be interconnected or complimentary. Like fire and marshmallows, right?!

Believe it or not, this dynamic perfectly describes the interplay between the traditional summer camp of our past and present and the technological needs and challenges of our future.

Technological advances have been enormous over the past several centuries. These advances and won’t stop coming. You’ve experienced AI phone receptionists, dreamt about drone delivered foods, and used auto-spelling daily. Our fridges can now order food, IBM’s Deep Blue can diagnosis medical ailments, and cars can drive themselves.

There are a lot of really cool things happening out there, boys and girls.

Camp to the Rescue

But, do you know what all these advances need to keep going forward? The good ol’ sklls taught at camp: building communities, learning from failure, creativity, confidence, and collaboration among others.

Without the human centered skills of the past, our futures will not be as bright. The pace of change will stutter and take directions that may not be in our best interest. Do you want a voice in the future before you? Then start thinking creatively, reach out to build connections, stay curious, and learn from your mistakes.

When your project, idea, or attempt doesn’t come out your way, instead of ignoring the result, lean into it with curiosity. Figure out the inputs (or lack thereof) that caused the poor result, make the adjustments, and try again. We practice this approach in robotics, at back country cooking, in gymnastics, and at waterski all the time.

When you feel lost or at whit’s end, reach out and ask for help and different ideas. If you can’t get through to that kid or are stuck on the wall or have no idea how to design that welcome sign… you reach out to those around you for ideas, suggestions, and help.

We do it all summer. Why not try it home, too? Here’s the funny thing about asking for help: you’ll connect with someone else and make them feel both needed and useful. It’s a nice feeling to enjoy!

‘No way! They’ll laugh at me,’ you say?  Well, then they are showing they aren’t very friendly or interested. There are lots of people who are – go try again! Courage, young camper. Courage!

The Good News

Want to know the best thing about camp? You are being prepared to tackle the future with gusto, with skill, and with joy… and you don’t even know it because you are having too  much fun.

Let’s keep the fun times going!

PS – If you’d like to listen to a really smart person talk about this, please enjoy the Campfire Conversation with the American Camp Association CEO, Tom Rosenberg. If you care about preparing our young people for the future, it will be a useful 30 minutes!

Let’s Stick Together

There has been a lot of discussion this week on who can be or should be friends with whom. Can you be friends or friendly with someone who does not share your every thought on every subject?

I think about our vegans at camp: I don’t share their opinion on eating meat and I really like them all: Photo Ben, Waterfront Julia, Finch, and everyone else. We also (I would imagine) have very different views on politics, religion, and many other hot topic areas.

You know what? I don’t care about that because I care about them.

At camp, we get put all that stuff aside and just be together. We ‘close ranks’ and focus on a few things which we can all agree: act gratefully, choose your attitude, build your courage, and be kind. Oh… and have a ton of fun.

That’s it. Nothing else needed.

Am I naive about this? In terms of what’s going on in the media culture right now – yes. In terms of the historical record of humans on our planet? Nope.

We’ve got to stick together, regardless of our differences. In fact, that amazing, improbable combination of ‘difference’ and ‘community’ actually makes us stronger than any other living thing that’s walked, crawled, swum, flew, slithered or grew on Earth. It’s helped us survive and thrive.

Let’s circle up around the campfire. Let’s celebrate our differences while we stick together. Why? Because our lives will be better for it.


Seth Godin recently wrote that, when thinking about memories…

“We don’t actually remember much of what happens. Instead, we get what we’ve rehearsed. 

If we fail to rehearse, the memory will fade.

And if the memory isn’t serving us, we can work to stop rehearsing it.

Choosing what we rehearse is a way of choosing who we will become.

Summer Memories, Fall Rehearsal

What will you remember from this past summer? What will you rehearse in your mind?

Will it be showing courage in the face of missing home or getting to make new friends? Perhaps you’ll rehearse trying something new or making it to the top of the climbing tower or getting up on stage in front of everyone.

Could it be reaching out a hand to someone who needed some support, asking for help when you needed it, or making the decisions about what you ate, what you wore, or how you reacted to everything without your parents close by?

What will you choose to forget, to let fall away? What memory or thought or habit do you want to let go of? Remember: you’ve got that memory, thought or habit; it doesn’t have you.

A long time ago, a teacher of mine relayed a story that touches exactly on this point.

Fred Couples, then the greatest golfer in the world, got my teacher’s attention and asked, “Doc, before I hit a shot, I think of the best shot I’ve ever hit with that club. Is that good?”

“Yes, Freddy. That’s pretty good,” Dr. Rotella replied with a rye grin.

You get a lot of what you rehearse. Make sure you are seeing yourself succeed and then work towards accomplishing that goal. Will it be a perfect result? Certainly not. But, you’ve got a much better shot at making it great than by just ‘winging it.’

Be thoughtful. Remember the good stuff, take the lessons from failure, and battle on. Have a great week!