Month: November 2019

Grateful to be More…

I just enjoyed several great conversations with some of Weequahic’s finest. We were talking about the idea of camp making us more of one thing and less of something else. You can listen in on Nuge, Elise, Chopper, Ben, Len, Jeff, Jordan and Carly by checking out the Campfire Conversation podcast on iTunes, Spotify, or Stitcher.

Our experience with camp certainly makes us both more and less. Over the past two decades, I’ve become more patient and less rigid, more prone to listen first and less to likely charge ahead on my own. I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  Thankfully, Kate and our team have been happy to help me learn.

It doesn’t have to be so. Not everyone who enjoys camp changes much over time. In order change, you must think back over an experience to determine what you should have or could have done differently. These moments of reflection, especially when looked at with clear eyes, can teach you a lot.

Because of Camp

Finish this sentence: Because of camp, I’m grateful to be more _______.

If you are a camper, I bet you’ll say something like independent, confident, gratefully, courageous, connected to my best self, friendly, adventurous or ‘secure in my canteen choice.’ (Well, maybe not the last one….)

I bet our staff would finish the sentence in similar ways as those with whom I spoke: confident, empathetic, grateful and aware.

If you are a parent, I hope the response is more along the ideas of courageous, patient, relaxed, ‘confident I’m on the right track in my parenting approach.’

Spending time at or with Weequahic is supposed to make each of us ‘more.’ I’ve love to hear or read what you think about when answering the question. Take a moment to think a bit on it and let us know your response on either facebook or Instagram.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

The Gold Mine

How many times have you walked away from a puzzle that someone else finished with just a few moves. Or that math problem that you just couldn’t solve which a friend or teacher says ‘what about this’ and leads easily to the right answer.

We all have those moments when, try as hard with all our might, we just can’t figure out how to make that paragraph work, schedule fit, recipe taste just right. And then your friend gives you the answer in a few seconds.

Frustrating? Maybe. Helpful? Certainly. Important? It’s hard to overstate the lesson.

Our Personal Goldmine

In the tough-minded and relentlessly optimistic book, Self-Renewal, John Gardner relays the stories of gold-miners who abandoned hard-worked mines for all sorts of issues. Every so often those seemingly ‘empty mines’ were found to be full of gold by the very next prospector to do some digging.

Much like these abandoned-yet-rich mines, “…most of us have potentialities that have never been developed simply because the circumstances of our lives never called them forth.”  Because we don’t spend time pursuing these potentialities “systemically or at least avidly”, we never really see just how much we can do.

I bet you know a lot of ‘successful’ people. I’ve got a friend who has been a State debate champion, college football player, Navy Seal, successful business person, PhD, and is an all-around great dad. He’s consistently put himself into situations in which he develops different capabilities and talents to their fullest.


The Other Miners

He’s always had help when needed.

Whether it was a coach, parent, instructor, professor, teammate, partner or bride, my friend was supported, pushed, and aided by people who cared all along the way. He found new situations in which to push his own limits along with people to help him through the inevitable hard times. Rather than staying stuck, he asked for help. By learning, he has continually moved forward.

Though not impossible, it’s incredibly difficult to find the depth of your own talents on your own. It’s so much easier to battle through roadblocks and moments of doubt with the help from those around you, those who’ll pick up the shovel and lead you in a new direction or encourage you to keep digging.

That’s what community is all about, what camp is built upon: building a connection between those with so much potential and experienced people who want to help that potential flourish. We build camp in order to help us all keep digging, to find some self-set limits and pass them by on the road to the next iteration of ourselves.

Striking Gold

When the combination of courage, effort, and humility fit just right, you find levels of thought, performance, and success that originally seemed out of reach. It helps to have few or no expectations. Rather, by remaining curious, thinking to yourself ‘what if…’ and enjoying the journey, you’ll go further.

Will it be as fast as you want? Probably not. Will you get ‘there?’ Maybe not.

Will this approach give you the best chance to get where you want to go? Yes. Even better, this approach may uncover riches inside yourself you never dreamed existed.

So, pick a direction and start digging. Tell a trusted friend, loved one, or mentor the direction you are going. Ask for some help when you get stuck or feel there is nothing on the other side. They’ll help you through the obstacle or help you decide to stop digging.

Either way, it’ll be amazing what you uncover. Let’s start digging!



Your Neighborhood Camp

I remember growing up hearing the trolley sounds, the high-pitched puppet voices, and the piano music. But, what I remember most from Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was his even, friendly, patient voice and the silence he let go on while we thought about what he’d just said or done or shown.

Mr. Rogers was attempting something new in a medium (television) that was used only for two things: entertainment and news. At the time, that entertainment included mostly aggressive or argumentative people acting out situations not entirely appropriate for children. Instead, Mrs. Rogers wanted to create an educational program for children and families.

Over the course of several decades, Mr. Rogers taught, inspired, and comforted us. While I’ve not yet studied the man as I should, what I do know has certainly molded me and the camp Kate and I direct in many ways. Here are a few quotes from Mr. Rogers that have made an impact on me. I hope will be helpful for you, too.

“I don’t think anyone can grow unless he’s loved exactly as he is now, appreciated for what he is rather than what he will be.” And the corresponding follow up: “Knowing that we can be loved exactly as we are gives us all the best opportunity for growing into the healthiest of people.”

We talk all the time about meeting our campers ‘where they are.’ We have no idea where they are going after camp is over for the summer. There are too many inputs in their future to be clear of what will happen next for each child and how those experiences will mold and shape them.

So, we focus on who  they are right now. And that is more than good enough for us.

“Our society is much more interested in information than wonder, in noise rather than silence…And I feel that we need a lot more wonder and a lot more silence in our lives.”

We spend two minutes at Friday Night Campfire just sitting together and being silent. Yes, I can hear you now: “Two whole minutes, Cole? Seriously?!”

You should try being silent and present for two minutes. It’s wonderful! And, the baby steps approach has been shown to help build habits across the board. Sitting and being silent will actually increase your sensitivity to the wonder in the world both inside and around you.

“Real strength has to do with helping others.”

We talk a lot at camp about becoming part of something larger than yourself. Helping others, putting their needs and wants before your own, listening to their questions and doing your best to answer them or support them in the process of answering their own… this is how we do it.

Ask the counselors about their summer and they won’t hesitate to say that they’ve found their strength in helping others grow. Ask the CITs about some of their favorite memories and you’ll hear about leading an EA or spending time with their JJ’s.

Just as you’ve got to lose yourself to find yourself, by serving others first, you build the strength inside your heart and mind.

“The thing I remember best about successful people I’ve met all through the years is their obvious delight in what they’re doing and it seems to have very little to do with worldly success. They just love what they’re doing, and they love it in front of others.”

Watching the kids on stage shine could not be more fun. You can feel their excitement, see the joy etched on their faces, and share in the triumph by showering them with applause. Same thing with the kids who climb the wall like spiders, score touchdowns and baskets, create something scrumptious, or come up with a new game in the bunk.

We all have something different we love to do. Pushing yourself to improve, because of the love of what you are doing, and sharing that love with your friends is what camp is all about.

You rarely have time for everything you want in this life, so you need to make choices. And hopefully your choices can come from a deep sense of who you are.”

We believe in giving kids a chance to choose at Weequahic. Whether it be their activity choices, the clothes they are going to wear, or the food they’ll eat, providing a safe environment in which they can make these choices allows for growth and self-knowledge. Through these moments of choice and self-discovery, we get to see our campers (and staff members!) become more informed, independent and confident humans.

I’ve got to share one more.

Who in your life … has helped you love the good that grows within you?

We all have good within. Our camp counselors do a wonderful job, in their best moments, of reminding our campers (and each other) of that good and helping it grow. If only we could provide the same reminders back home for the rest of the year.

Instead, we’ve got to make the memories, the moments, and the experiences so intense, so fun, so memorable that they keep you going all year long. Here’s to more of that.

Mr. Rogers wanted us to be good neighbors. Let’s celebrate that wonderful man’s legacy by making it so. Have a great week!

PS: If you’d like to hear more, check out our Campfire Conversation podcast about Mr. Rogers and summer. You can also head out to see the upcoming movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.