Last week, I talked with you about questions. Two of those questions – ‘Where am I going?’ and ‘Do I have what it takes?’ concern the future. You are taking stock of how things are right now and doing your best to envision a future ahead.
The hard part about the future is that we can’t predict it. Who would have predicted our online campfires, physical distancing, and fear caused by this outbreak? When we think about the future, because we are positive people, we normally think about improvements to the life around us.
And, why wouldn’t we? As a human society, terrible poverty has fallen dramatically. The advances in science and medicine has been astounding. People are thinking more and more about helping those around them as well as the earth itself.
We can’t predict the future. But, we can influence it.
Hope Isn’t Enough
If you want to become the best singer in your school, you would envision that future first. How it would make you feel. Being up on stage having finished an amazing piece and hearing the crowd roar their approval. As you think about that wonderful future, you hope you’ll get there.
If you want to become the best baseball player in your league, you’d imagine diving catches, sharp base hits, stolen bases, and cheers from the stands. When you think about that wonderful future, you hope you’ll get there.
But hope is not enough. If you want to get from wherever you are to where you want to go, you’ve got to make some changes. And change can really hard. It normally means giving something up or changing your focus or modifying your behavior.
One of my favorite teachers spent some time with me one day after a practice. I was upset – things were not going as I wanted them. He asked me where I wanted to take my golf career. To college, I answered.
“Great,” he said, “that’s a wonderful goal.” And then he started asking me how I spent my time.
How many hours a day are you sleeping? Studying? Reading outside of school? Spending time with your family? Practicing? Playing video games? (Yes, there were video games all the way back when I was a kid, too.)
He wrote all of my answers down. I was always honest with this coach – I knew he had my best in his mind and would support me no matter what.
“Ok, here’s how many hours a week you’d sleep. Here’s how many hours of studying…” and on down the list. It turns out, I was spending as many hours playing video games as I was practicing golf. (And both were more than I was studying….)
“Cole,” he said, “I’ve always found that tracking how I spend my time and my money is the best way to see what’s most important to me. Do you think spending as much time playing video games as practicing your short game will help you become a college golfer? Do you think sleeping in every weekend will help you draw closer to your family or your faith?”
He smiled, told me to make another 50 short putts and head home. I got the message and changed my behavior: more time reading, more time practicing, and about 10% as much video games.
That story in my life ended as I wanted it. I changed enough behaviors and beliefs in order to play golf in college. I gave up a lot, too, but the relationships and memories I gained were more than worth the trade.
But what happens when we can’t influence the future to our liking? What happens when things out of our control go wrong, go against what’s most important right here and now for you?
Well, everybody handles disappointment and grief differently. Some people get to work. Others get sad. A few get mad. Most of us, though, go through a whole range of emotions. And, you know what? That’s completely ok.
We are supposed to. Believe it or not, it’s actually good for you to feel those things and even better to, when you are ready, talk about them with someone you love and loves you back. These emotions won’t be minimized or excused away. They need to be confronted, talked about and processed. Like all things in life, the only way out of those feelings is going through them.
This Too Shall Pass
When I think about disappointment and loss, I often think of King Solomon’s ring. If you aren’t familiar, King Solomon was thought to be the wisest king of Israel. Legend has it that one of his rings had a saying that was true no matter the situation: this too shall pass.
Let me break down that sentence a bit: This – whatever is happening right now – will change into something else. We can cheat in cards and in video games but there is no cheating time. ‘Too’ – everything changes. The more you fight the change, the harder it will be on you. A better way is to be like water and flow with it, carving your own channels over time. ‘Shall’ – not maybe, not possibly, ‘shall’ – it will. ‘Pass’ – move on, pass by, change.
This sentence is really useful when things are going great. It’ll keep you humble. It’ll remind you that things change and you’ve got to change with it. Do you think Weequahic had to change much as we grew from 120 kids to 750 in 8 summers? Oh, yes, we have to change every year.
It’s also an important sentence to remember when times are scary or dark or troublesome. Those times will pass. We don’t know when, but they will. There is hope in that message.
Our Decision Making Process
Speaking of changes, let me address the very large elephant in the room. Many of our friends in Wayne County cancelled their summer sessions today. I know the decision was terribly hard for them. While we respect their decision, we have not yet made one about Summer 2020.
As I said in my email earlier today, safety is our most important concern. And this concern involves our campers social and emotional health as well as their physical health. Being cooped up for so many weeks is hard on our kids. Camp, I believe, could be a wonderful respite for them.
We read the same headlines that you do. They are certainly concerning. We’ve been reading studies. We know that while a very small portion of children have been affected, there is a much lower risk for them. Could sleeping in a bunk increase the possibility of spreading a virus. Yes. AND, if we can test everyone before they arrive, keep our staff at Weequahic for two weeks prior to camp, and keep everyone at camp the whole time, we may be able to mitigate that risk.
We’ve been talking with our camp doctors a bunch – I think they are actually tired of hearing from me. There have been multiple conversations with many others in the field. We’ve been on testing calls, research calls, and more.
We are still waiting for guidance from the American Camp Association. Some of that has come out today. The rest will be out over the weekend. We are waiting to hear from the State of Pennsylvania’s Department of Health. I’ve heard news from them will be coming out ‘in days.’
When and How We’ll Decide
Kate and I feel obligated to do everything we can to provide our campers and staff a safe summer. We’ll continue to dig and learn and think creatively. If, after reading through the guidelines, we feel we can’t make Weequahic great and as safe as possible this summer, we’ll let you know. If we feel we can, we’ll do that too, in a very detailed manner.
We want camp for our kids and our families and our staff. We just need a little more time to see if we can make it all work. Thanks for being patient, flexible and hopeful with along the way.