Category: Summer Camp

Skate park at Camp Weequahic

Your Controllables

What time you get out of bed.

Whether or not (eww…) you brush your teeth in the morning.

Which bit of breakfast you put in your mouth first and last.

Remembering to take your things to school.

How you greet your teacher, your classmates, the custodian, hall monitor.

How much time you spend in the bathroom.

What you think about during math class.

How you treat those around you (and yourself) at lunch.

How much time you spend on your phone.

What you attend to whilst on your phone.

How you leave your classroom, classmates, teacher, custodian for the day.

How you greet those at home when you see them after school.

Whether or not you do your homework. AND, the quality of the effort as well.

What input – news, music, games, etc. – you attend to when not doing homework or chores.

How you react to that inpu.

Whether or not (ew…) you brush your teeth before bed.

What you think about whilst falling asleep.

Campers, this is a just a small list off the top of my head that you completely control each and every school day. Doesn’t matter if you are online or in-person. Doesn’t matter what time school starts or what you have after it.

You have the opportunity to control all of the things listed above along with a whole lot more.

Losing Focus

A lot of adults (and kids) are focused right now on things that are way out of their control. Because of this, our ability to exert control on that which we can degrades.

It’s ok to be sad or scared or anxious or nervous some of the time. These feelings are good reminders to make your scope of focus a bit smaller and think about what you can do to make the world around you a better, more interesting place.

The results of your efforts don’t matter (unless they are making the situation worse. If that is the case, stop and do something else.) Most of the time, you won’t know if your daily actions are meaningful. In fact, change is so slow that you don’t even notice it… in both directions.

Like a snowball rolling down the mountain, little things add up quickly.

The more emphasis or focus you put on treating yourself, your responsibilities and those around you with kindness, honesty, and grace, the more those around you will see you as a kind, honest and graceful person. The more careless with your time, your words or the small details under your control, the less likely those around you will trust you enough to give more.

Control what you can control, Weequahic. That’s one of the keys to a productive, happy life. Have a great week!

PS…

I had a totally different post ready to go today. However, just like four years ago, I’ve spent a good portion of my day on the phone with friends upset about an election. Like four years ago, some are afraid and others happy.

Just as four years ago, I’m happy to report, based on evidence from the past 4 billion years, the sun will come up tomorrow and the earth will continue its dance through the heavens. Today will be a lot like yesterday and tomorrow a lot like today. I say this not to diminish feelings of hurt or elation. It’s stated simply as a reminder of perspective.

The vast majority of change is very slow to happen and mostly springs from our daily, personal interaction with the world and people around us. This is also the source of most of our joy.

The world is too big to change much less control. Our best way forward, as in any situation, is to control what we can control and treat the world and those around us with kindness, honesty and grace. Get after that, Weequahic, and things will work out well.

How to Find Your Arch-Enemy

We enjoyed a great Autumn at Camp Weequahic this year. Over 150 returning camp families showed up to enjoy a ‘socially distanced’ day at camp with a lot of friends. We also had a blast showing Weequahic off to many potential campers and parents as well. It was even instructive for me as I learned how to find your arch-enemy.

On of those tours had 9-year-old boy who shared my love of comics. At one point in our conversation he asked me, ‘Cole, who is your arch-enemy?’

My first thought was ‘wow, I’ve never been asked that.’

After I thought through a couple of possibilities – my younger brother, the director at Camp Westmont, and a few others I settled on one that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, is my arch-enemy. (And, no, it’s not Ross – I love that guy!)

What is an ‘Arch-Enemy?’

Fiction is really good at setting up heroes with an arch-enemy. Sherlock often foiled Moriarty. Darth Vader plagued Luke Skywalker. Harry Potter battled Lord Voldemort over and over.

It even happens in real life: Aaron Burr hounded and then killed Alexander Hamilton. Every NFL fan (save those living in and around Boston) despises Coach Belichick. SEC fans feel the same about his college-image in Nick Saban.

Heroes and arch-enemies are linked. In most cases, one fights for good while the other for evil. Always at cross purposes, they rage away at one another, even when they do not ‘share the stage’ so to speak.

However, when you look closely, all of these pairs share a number of similarities. Sherlock and Moriarty were the cleverest men of their age. Luke and Vader, both disciples of and empowered by the force, are actually – gasp – son and father.) Harry and Voldermort are powerful magicians, linked by a ‘soul-bond’ of magical origination. The coaches love the game of football as much if not more than the fans of opposing teams.

An arch-enemy is defined as ‘a person who is extremely hostile or opposed to someone or something.’ This certainly describes the pairs listed above. But, it also describes an even more important and powerful arch-enemy for each hero.

Your Most Powerful Arch-Enemy is…

So, I left you hanging in the intro, didn’t I? How do you find your arch-enemy? After I thought about it for about two seconds, I answered:

Myself.

I hear you saying ‘No way, Cole! It’s got to be someone else.’ It’s not, though. All I have to do is look in the mirror.

Of course, this is not always true. However, I can’t count the times in my life when I’ve told myself ‘you can’t’ or ‘you shouldn’t’ or ‘they’ll laugh’ or ‘no, seriously, that fifth and sixth cookie will make you feel better.’

Does that ring true for you, too?

There are two scenes in Star Wars that illustrate this point perfectly. During their ‘becoming’, both Luke and Rey battle a foe in a secret place. Vader charges out of the darkness, light saber ready to attack Luke. An unknown assailant approaches Rey with a lightsaber bo staff. Luke wins a short battle but, in looking at his fallen foe, the face underneath Vader’s mask is Luke’s own. Rey realizes she’s fighting herself as well.

How About You?

Campers, odds are your arch-enemy is yourself. AND THAT’S OK! It’s actually more important to realize that fact than just about anything else. When you become aware of the situation, you can step back, observe what you are ‘hearing’ in your head and decide whether or not to follow the message.

Whether it is battling the fear of doing the right thing, putting in the extra effort when no one is looking, or overcoming some self-set limits, you’ll have to battle yourself a good bit. This won’t change through your years. The sooner you realize it, the sooner you can become aware of the fight and make your ‘enemy’ smaller and weaker over time.

Just make sure to treat your enemy – yourself – kindly. Believe it or not, ‘they’ are just trying to do what they think is right. You, though, get to decide whether or not to listen.

Your choice!

Our neighborhood

Our Neighborhood

On my way home last week, I watched Midway, a movie about a major World War II battle in the Pacific.  Throughout, the director showed both sides – the  US and Japanese –  in an honorable way. In fact, the director and producers dedicated the film to the sailors from both sides at the end of the movie.

The film reminded me of the many wars fought throughout time on this small planet. They were waged for different reasons: power, resources, influence, retribution, etc. The one common factor: one set of humans and their tools against another set of humans and their corresponding tools.

We humans are now locked in another battle. This one, though, is different. Rather than it being against each other, it’s all of us against something that doesn’t care where we are from, what we look like, what car we drive, etc. COVID-19 can affect us all.

Being Neighborly

A teacher once taught a lesson about loving our neighbors. He did so in dramatic fashion, making a member of a despised culture the ‘hero.’

Here’s the short version: A man had been beaten up, robbed and left for dead. Many people who were well thought of in ‘their neighborhood’ walked by, excusing their lack of lending assistance for multiple reasons. Then a member of a despised culture stopped, showed mercy, humility, and love by helping the man and setting him up to be healed with no thought of repayment.

The punchline: the person from a despised ‘neighborhood’ had been the true neighbor. He’d loved the injured as he did himself regardless of anything else – race, creed, color or religion.

Our Neighborhood

How big is your neighborhood? At camp, we’ve got a fun bunch of us. But if we compare our camp with all the camps in the US, it’s a very, very small neighborhood. 

Our Earth is pretty big, right? It’s measured at 24,901 miles around the equator. However, when you compare the Earth to our solar system, it’s pretty small. Compare it to our larger galaxy, it’s smaller still.

For comparison sake, it would take you about 45 hours to circumnavigate the Earth on a plane. To get to Pluto and back, it would take 25 years and a really big rocket ship. To edge of our galaxy and back? That’s currently estimated at 220 million years.  

So, when you compare it to the larger context, our Earth – our neighborhood – is pretty small. Mr. Fred Rogers touched on this a lot over his many decades of service. He didn’t care what you looked like, where you were from, or what was in your bank account. You were his neighbor and he treated you with kindness, patience, respect, and love. Period.

In other words, we are all neighbors. And, until we find life off world, we are the only neighbors we’ve got.

Our Current Battle

In case you haven’t noticed, there is a virus in the neighborhood. We’ve got to work together to stamp it out.

A powerful politician once admonished his ‘troops’ not to let a crisis go to waste. Whether you agreed or not with his politics or timing is irrelevant. This is one such crisis but not in the terms he meant.

This is not an opportunity to place blame. It’s an opportunity to realize that all of us in this tiny little neighborhood are in a fight against something that threatens us all. The good news? There are very simple and powerful ways to defeat it.

First, remain calm and patient. We humans have gotten through much worse. Secondly, wash your hands really well. If you aren’t sure how, here you go. The third is stay away from other people as much as you can for the time being, especially if you feel crummy.

Campers, we are most worried about those with challenged immune systems and the elderly. It would be neighborly of us to do our best to reduce the spread of this disease any way we can. (Here’s a great infographic that explains things well to young and old people alike.)

Weequahic Neighbors

So, while this time is certainly strange for us, it’s also an opportunity to remember that we humans, despite our differences, are all neighbors. Let’s decide to be good ones for each other.

Heck, if enough of us work at this long enough, maybe everyone will start acting the same way. When that happens, our Earth will feel a little bit more like a summer at Weequahic. Talk with you next week.