Category: Campfire Conversation

What’s Your Scorecard?

The 2021 Leaders-In-Training group is currently reading Chop Wood, Carry Water by Joshua Medcalf*. It’s a simple story filled with short, thoughtful lessons. This is my third time through it and I continue to pick up ideas that make a big difference when applied.

In brief, it’s a story about John, a young man who travels to Japan to realize his dream of becoming a samurai archer. His mentor and teacher, Akira, spends time instructing John through the process of becoming an archer. The lessons are many, useful, and unexpected.

While there are many questions Akira asks of John, one I think most useful right now is this:

What’s Your Scorecard?

We all have an internal scorecard. For some of us, it’s about school grades or friendships or ‘likes’ or ‘streaks’ or college acceptances. For others it may be money or fame or ‘one more customer’ (or camper) or becoming the best.

Tennis great Andre Agassi talked about his experience of becoming #1. He thought realizing his dream would be fulfilling and affirming. He found it wasn’t. In fact, it felt empty. His scorecard was very real and it led him to a place that he didn’t find worthwhile.

Writer Jonathan Foster Wallace spoke about this idea in a thought-provoking way in his This is Water speech. (Warning: the speech is excellent but should be read by adults first before sharing with kids.)

What If…

Rather having than all the things we can accumulate on the scorecard, what if we put behaviors or characteristics that we could practice every day on the scorecard instead? How much better could our lives be if we showed gratitude, picked our attitude, demonstrated courage, behaved justly, loved mercy, stayed humble, remained curious and so much more every day?

To start, Akira suggests John think of the people in his life that he admires. Then to write down the characteristics that they exude which he admires. From the resulting list, pick a few that resonate most and make those the new daily life scorecard. It’s a great exercise.

Our Scorecard

Camp Weequahic has a scorecard.  It’s one, we believe, that helps create a community that pulls the best out of the participants, be they campers or staff members. It’s by no means perfect but it does help to keep us grounded and striving toward a goal that will make the small world around us a better place. And that matters.

Scorecards change over time. But they always exist. It doesn’t matter if you are talking about a business, a school, a camp, a third grader, college student, or 90-year-old. We’ve all got them. We also all get to choose how we measure our lives. And that’s the great part.

So, what’s your scorecard?

*A portion of the book sales from the links above will go to SCOPE, a summer camp charity that we support.

Summer camp sports league play

Imagining Failure and…

I just received my 25th College Reunion notice today. Which made me think about what I was doing about this time 25 years ago. One thing that stands out: waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the Masters of Sport Psychology program at school.

My parents, always supportive, told me I’d get in. My golf coach had written a great recommendation and thought I’d get in. I’d taken classes with the head of the program and worked as hard as possible to keep up. I thought I would get in… but I wasn’t sure.

And, if I hadn’t been accepted, I had no idea what my next steps would be.

Looking back on it, that lack of ‘what if’ planning was a big problem.

Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn

Failing to imagine how to handle failure is pretty common. In fact, during the two years it took me to earn that Masters in Sport Psychology (yes, I got in), I cannot remember ever once hearing we should help our athletes/kids/friends visualize failure. I was taught to help others imagine and plan their future success.

Say you wanted to complete a perfect tumbling pass in gymnastics. I’d ask you to see every move in your mind’s eye, imagine the pressure on your hands, the explosiveness in your legs, the feel of the floor, the sound of the music. Imagine, in every detail possible, the successful completion of the event. Even the high-five from your coach at the end.

This is all you need to succeed: hard work, visualizing the perfect outcome, and trusting the process of improvement. Right?

Wrong. It’s vital that we spend some time visualizing failure… and how we’ll handle it.

How You’ll Handle It

Dr. Stefi Cohen, world champion powerlifter, author, and business owner, recently spoke with Tim Ferriss about failing to make some lifts that were ‘easy’ for her in a competition. As a background, Dr. Cohen was the first woman to deadlift 4.4 times her weight – 540lbs. Crazy!

When she didn’t hit that ‘easy’ first weight, she lost it. Couldn’t continue. She was totally wrecked, both mentally and emotionally. This had been on ongoing issue for her.

A few days later, she decided she needed help with her approach. Working with a sports psychologist, Dr. Cohen started to visualize failing and how she planned on handling it.

After several months of work (and lifting), she got back into competing. And promptly failed her first lift. And her second. Then she ADDED weight and won the competition on the final lift.

How was she able to make such a turnaround? She had decided how she would handle failure – with thoughtfulness, humor, and resolve. And, she had imagined the experience in great detail over and over and over.

Failing at Camp

Believe it or not, we spend time during the off-season imagining why some of our as-yet-untried new ideas for camp did not work. Andy Stanley talks about this as a future ‘post mortem.’

By taking this approach, we’ve made our ideas better. We’ve found challenges and potential issues and planned our way around them. We’ve even decided not to do a few things after putting in the work.

Campers, this is also why I’ve asked every one of you this question: ‘When things don’t go well at camp – because sometimes they won’t – how will you handle it?’

Plan for missing home. Get ready for a miscommunication with another camper or a counselor. Prepare for a meal you don’t love. The more you plan for the (very rare) challenges at camp, the better you’ll be at handling them and getting back into the fun.

Preparing for Summer ’21

The good news? We’ve got lots of ideas on how to help you through the challenges. In fact, next week’s Campfire Conversation with Rikki Goldenberg is focused directly on this topic for campers, parents and staff. She’ll help us all get ready for a great summer! And, of course, we are always here for a call or Zoom chat. Let us help!

Have a great week, Weequahic!

A Farmer’s New Year Lesson

We are so grateful to enjoy such an amazing community of campers, parents, staff and friends at Camp Weequahic. The love, fun, and support of so many has been a highlight during a tough year.

While 2020 was filled with a number of challenges, it also taught us several of important lessons. As we move into ’21, a story told around the campfire came to mind. We couldn’t resist one last campfire of 2020 and thought it would be fun to hear from some of our campers and staff once more.

We hope you’ll enjoy this short video about “The Farmer and the Fruit Tree” as well as the fruits our community gathered from the past several months.

To all in our fantastic Camp Weequahic family, we wish y’all happy end to 2020 and wonderful start to ’21!

*If anyone needs help with video ideas or creation, Ben Marshall has done all of the short videos we’ve produced over the past few years – including this one.