Discipline Leads to Freedom… and FUN

I knew a boys camp that had a person on staff known as the Dean of Discipline. It was (and still is) a tremendously fun spot, safe, and well run. The guys I spoke with loved camp. The way which they spoke about the DoD, though… you could tell they loved him more than almost anything else about the camp.

Hm…. The guy who held them accountable? Check. A person who would dole out punishment? You betcha.


Because he saw what those boys could and would become – good men – and treated them in a way that led them towards that future vision. Just as important, the boys knew this, too. The accepted his discipline because it was delivered from a place both of belief and love.

Required Discipline

You want freedom? It takes discipline. You want to do well in school? It takes discipline. You want to run faster than anyone else? It takes discipline. If you want… ok, you get the picture.

Coach Wooden, the man whose teams won 10 NCAA basketball championships, talked about this idea… a lot. “Discipline yourself, and others won’t have to,” he’d say to his players.

When his best player, two-time player of the year Bill Walton, showed up for fall practice with a beard, Coach Wooden listened to his star’s impassioned speech on why it was his right to wear the beard. Coach said, “Bill, I respect your feelings. We are sure going to miss you.”

Bill shaved a few minutes later, showed up for practice, and won a national championship that year.

Others have talked about discipline, too:

True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline. – Mortimer J. Adler

Self-respect is the root of discipline: The sense of dignity grows with the ability to say no to oneself. – Rabbi Abraham J. Heschel

Self-control is the chief element in self-respect, and self-respect is the chief element in courage. – Thucydides

You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself…the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment.  – Leonardo da Vinci

We all have dreams. But in order to make dreams come into reality, it takes an awful lot of determination, dedication, self-discipline, and effort. – Jesse Owens

Camp Discipline

The list goes on and on and on. So, why are we talking about this at camp? Well, because without discipline, we wouldn’t have as much fun, the best staff, the deep traditions, the great food, the joy of community, the… again, you get the idea.

Part of camp is about having so much fun that your head just about pops off your body. It’s also about learning to be a good human. And, yes, it does take discipline to accomplish that aim.

Making your bed each morning takes discipline. So does saying ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ at Canteen. Reaching out to new friends? You guessed it… discipline. Waiting your turn in line at the Rock Wall or Ninja Course or Slip n’ Slide? You know the answer.

Here’s your challenge this week. Gain some discipline by requiring more of yourself. It will take some thought, yes, and some effort. But, like courage, discipline is a muscle that grows and creates a more free, open, and enjoyable life down the road.Have a great week!