Hopeless… But Completely Worth It

While traveling to see families this past weekend, I got to speak with one of our very fun staff members. He told me a story from Summer ’18 that made me laugh and think a bit.

The outline is this: one of his campers spent a few rest-hours trying to teach him how to throw a baseball. While certainly athletic enough, our staff member is not from the States and had no idea what he was trying to do.

After about 30 minutes of instruction and failure and many laughs, the camper looked to him and said “You are hopeless… but completely worth it.”

Our staff member took it with a smile and agreement. While we moved on to different discussion points, that story, and that ending phrase in particular, stuck with me.

Let’s break it down a bit:

You Are Hopeless

I’ve been told, by 9-year-olds mind you, that I’m hopeless in the gaga pit. They may be right. Over my ten summers at Weequahic, I’m 0 for 457 in terms of wins. That’s right – I’ve never won a game.

I promise – it’s not for a lack of trying. But, more importantly, being hopeless has never stopped me from having a blast.

Sure, I could work at my quickness and flexibility and strategy to improve. But, let’s face it: this 45-year-old camp director is not going to put in that much effort. So, I’ll accept that title – hopeless – because I choose not to work at getting better.

There are lots of things in my life for which I would classified as ‘hopeless’ – brain surgery, ballet dancing, telling really good jokes, walking past Chef Daniel’s chocolate cookies without eating one, and so much more.

But….

I’m not trying to get better at any of those things. I’m lucky to know some great brain surgeons, I’ve met Baryshnikov (a lot of power packed into that small, creative frame), Kate is more than funny enough for the two of us, and the cookies are just too good!

Given enough time, effort and training, I would become something better than ‘hopeless’ in all of those categories. Well… maybe not walking past the cookies.

A wise man once told me the secret to the word ‘but.’ Whatever comes before it in a sentence is forgotten and replaced with whatever follows it. For example, ‘You are really a nice person but I’m choosing someone else.’ Or, ‘I like what you did there but it’s all wrong.’

You get the idea.

In fact, we’ve gone so far as to train our staff not to use the word ‘but’ in those situations. Instead, we use ‘and.’ By changing that one little word, it allows you to convey both a positive and a constructive criticism or piece of bad news without invalidating the positive.

But… (sorry, couldn’t resist) in this case, the word is a perfect choice. Because we are all…

Completely Worth It

This does not apply just to our erstwhile staff member who still can’t throw a baseball. It applies to all of us. We are ALL worth it. And, by ‘it’, I mean effort, attention, patience, kindness, caring, interest and love.

We talk to our staff members about the what, the how and the why of camp. The ‘what’ is pretty simple: we run a residential summer camp for boys and girls that is three or six weeks long. ‘How’ we do it? By creating an amazing experience for everyone we meet through gratitude, attitude, and courage. The ‘why’ though… that’s the bedrock, the foundation.

For us, it’s because we are all worth it – the effort, attention, patience, kindness, caring, interest and love. It doesn’t matter if you are a first-time camper, a fourth-generation alum, the staff member who washes toilets or the one holding the clipboard.

Sure, you may be hopeless at a lot of things. But, we are all completely worth ‘it.’ And realizing that, at this festive time of year, may be the best present of all.

Happy Holidays, y’all. Talk with you next week.