Category: Campfire Conversation

The Balance

Happy first Friday of 2022! It doesn’t feel possible that we are already in a new year – I feel like you all just left camp from last summer! We can’t wait to get you back and for all of our new found friends to join us around the campfire soon.

Many of you may have spent some time in the last week thinking about how you spent 2021. (And, if you didn’t a little re-examining is useful.) When I was going through my 2021, I kept coming up with phrases starting with or including ‘should have.’

I Should Have…

I should have eaten less fast food on the road… been better about returning calls…written more ‘thank you’ notes… stretched more… listened more and spoken less.

The ‘should have’ phrase is important. It allows us to look back on past behaviors and decisions and reassess the situation. We can make a lot of good plans for the future by looking at our past mistakes and planning how we’ll do things differently in the future. (You can learn from other’s mistakes, too!)

And, if we aren’t careful, the ‘should haves’ can drown everything else out. Too many of these can make you think ‘Wow, I really stink.’ But we know that is not the case. So, you’ve got to balance the ‘should haves’ with a different, just as important sentence starter.

Thank Goodness For…

Thank goodness we planned for extra time to install the new water park… for all those incredible staff members… everyone who lifts another’s spirits… the campers who were so brave to jump back into ‘the soup’ of camp last summer (and the parents who let them!)

How would you complete ‘thank goodness for…?’ Take a moment and think about your 2021. Write out at least five ‘thank goodness for’ starters and fill them in. It’ll take you five minutes. (Don’t worry – the tiktok video will still be there!)

There’s a lot of research showing the expression of gratitude makes you calmer, happier, and more fulfilled. But, you don’t need scientific research to tell you what a 30 second mental exercise will let you feel.

The Balance

Now, too much of ‘thank goodness for’ without some ‘I should haves’ can be detrimental, too. The idea is to continue to grow as a person, no matter how old you are or how much you know. By balancing the ‘should have’ with the ‘thank goodness’ phrases, you’ll learn a lot and keep yourself motivated to keep the learning and growing going.

And that, I think would be a great start to the year. Happy New Year, Weequahic!

Gratitude Quotes to Ponder

As we move into Thanksgiving, we celebrate one of Camp Weequahic’s values: gratitude. As a reader, I’m often highlighting what much smarter and more eloquent people say about one of my favorite subjects. Here are a few quotes that stood out recently. I hope they’ll be helpful to you as well.

Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.

Eckhart Tolle

We all have so much. Start simple and close: with yourself! Your body is this incredible creation that leaps and loves and learns. You are expressive and impressive. As one writer said, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. You’ve got a family that loves you. You have friends that care. And, if you feel like you don’t, give me a call. I’ll be your friend.

When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.

Maya Angelou

Ms. Angelou was a marvelous storyteller. I love how she connects two personal choice actions (give and accept) with the personal choice attitudes (cheerfully and gratefully.) We don’t have to give and when we do, do so cheerfully. It’s another gift to the recipient.

We don’t have to receive the gift. In fact, many of us were pretty closed off emotionally because of the ripple effects of the pandemic. Some still are. In order to truly give and receive a gift, you’ve got to open your hands. Take a listen to Director Kate who has a great short talk about this very idea.

We should certainly count our blessings, but we should also make our blessings count.

Neal Maxwell

You’ve got a gift. It was given to you at birth. You didn’t have to do anything for it and you have to do a lot to uncover it. But, once you do, it’ll be one of the most important experiences of your life. You see, it’s not enough just to have a gift or a blessing. It’s so much more important to share it with others.

You see, we humans were built for the campfire, for the community. Failure to find and then share your unique gift with those around you is a tragedy. You’ve got so much, even if you don’t know it yet. You will. Keep digging… gratefully.

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.

Marcel Proust

This is my favorite because it reminds me so much of camp… and my family. When we feel like we are at our absolute best, we are surrounded by those who love us and challenge us, who bring joy and comfort, who laugh with and lean in. If we do not express our gratitude toward them, we risk having a barren garden of joy.

Weequahic, we wish y’all are wonderful and thoughtful Thanksgiving. And, for our friends and families outside of the US, we hope you’ll celebrate along with us. We’ve so much for which to be grateful.

Fear and Its Antidote

Yes, Halloween is upon us and we are all in the mood for ‘fright.’ (That goes double for us in the Kelly household as our middle son, Jack, just got his drivers license today!) But ‘scary’ kids and the challenge of seeing a child drive away did not get me thinking about today’s subject: fear.

I blame a quote I recently re-encountered.

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer…. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

from Dune by Frank Hebert

I used to think of needing to build up armor around myself to protect against fear. If I could simply protect myself or my loved ones from the need to fear, I’d have ‘won.’ But that’s not how fear works.

The Fear Reaction

Let’s take, for example, a camper who gets onto the bus to camp for the first time.

The act itself is simple, isn’t it? Walk up a few steps, down a little pathway, and plop down into the comfy seat set aside just for you. If you want to add a bit of complexity, you figure out what to do with your bus bag and, hopefully, smile and introduce yourself to the other new camper sitting next to you.

But, for many of our first-time campers, those simple action-steps are accompanied with a lot of internal perceptions, questions and reactions: will the kids be nice? What are my parents thinking? Wait a second, I’m going where? What if….

Those internal perceptions accompanying a seemingly set of actions can trigger the fear response, an emotional overload which leads to withdrawal for some and tears for others.

In this situation, ‘armour’ is not what a camper needs. Instead, they need the internal strength to let the fear response wash over them and leave. Want know what helps develop this internal awareness, this internal strength?

Stories and Effort

We all are immersed in stories from our earliest days. Great stories show people who overcome challenges, who live lives of purpose and meaning, and demonstrate the power of community. As we age, we switch from the make-believe to the stories of great humans from history like Dr. King, Mother Theresa, Mrs. Parks, and Churchill.

By learning from others, even from the likes of Harry Potter or Hermione Granger, we begin to develop the story we tell ourselves. If we are fortunate, we begin to internalize these stories in a way that adds to our internal strength. We see ourselves reaching out to those in need, rising to the occasion, overcoming challenge.

When you combine these stories with purposeful effort, you supercharge the feelings of confidence and competence. You give yourself the best chance to learn from mistakes and move forward. And, you attract others to your side to lend a hand.

Summer Camp Solution

That’s the beauty of camp. It combines a lot of great stories, a ton of support from engaged staff and lots of opportunities to practice. When done well, these aspects come together to create a virtuous cycle of increasing internal strength and connection and community.

Does fear go away? Nope. There will always be situations when it washes in. But, with stories and effort and community, fear is more likely to wash in and out, leaving nothing but your true, valiant self behind.

So, for our first-time campers above: recognize the anxiety about getting into a new situation and let it blow away. You are more excited about going to camp than anything else. Stick your hand out, smile and put in the effort. You are going to do great! We’ll be there by you as along as you need.

Happy Halloween!