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A Juneymoon Summer

A longtime camp mom recently jumped into the world of children’s books with Juneymoon. It’s a sweet story about the adoption of a new dog after losing their beloved, longtime pooch to old age. The subtitle explains the book perfectly: the story of a perfectly imperfect dog.

While my boys are a bit past the age when they’ll let me read to them, I’m always on the lookout for something to read my young nieces. Juneymoon is perfect for them: it’s about a high-spirited dog and the young girl who is trying to train and welcome it into the family.

And, as most things do these days, Juneymoon reminded me of camp.

Summer 2019

For those who were a part of the family in 2019, we had a tremendous summer. The weather was beautiful, the kids frolicked without a care, and the food was the best yet. (I still miss that salad bar….)

Campers and staff arrived from 15 States and 14 different countries. We had our first camper from Saudi Arabia, more former campers on staff than ever, and a group of CITs who were among the first kids I met while rebuilding camp.

Visiting Day was a complete blast. Families streamed in anxiously awaiting their kids. Chef Daniel knocked the food out of the park and the weather, much like it had been all summer, was glorious. And our staff… wow. They were just fantastic from Day 1 of Orientation all the way through the frenzied last day of clean-up.

Summer 2020 had to be just as good, if not better… right?

Juneymoon’s Summer Camp

Well, we all know how that turned out. Last summer got derailed by an unexpected virus. Thankfully, we’ve learned a lot since then. We’ll be ready to make Summer ’21 amazing… if a little different. Our kids need it. So do I!

In the story, young Izzy struggles with new dog June because all she could remember were the great times with her old dog, Eli. To Izzy, “Eli was absolutely perfect.”

Our returning campers will arrive remembering that perfect Summer 2019. Enjoying this summer with masks on, Covid-tested, and ‘podded’ over the first several days of the session will most likely make Summer ’19 look all the more fun.

It’s a very natural and expected response. When we look back on our past, we remember a lot of good. We rarely remember the easily-forgotten “bad” things: an argument with a friend, rain canceling our tubing time, the counselor who you felt was a little too strict, the sad moments after speaking with your parents, your tribe or team failing to win.

While we can certainly look back favorably on Summer ’19, we also have to realize it wasn’t perfect.

Campers, we’ve got to look forward to Summer ’21 even more. In spite of the fewer number of international kids and staff members. In spite of the daily health checks and the greater number outdoor activities. In spite of the masks when we are mixing and the all-bunk activity program for the first week.

A Perfectly Imperfect Summer

Yes, this coming summer will be different than past summers. Here’s the funny thing: camp is always a little different each summer. Campers, while you don’t feel like you change much between the summers, you do. So do the staff. And so does camp.

Yes, we’ll have some new things to get used to. But that’s the same every summer. There are always new staff members, new amazing evening activities, new kids in the bunk. This leads to a bit of getting used to things each summer.  

No matter what, these little frustrations will be totally worth it. Why? Because we’ll be together. And, I bet the more you get into the experience, the more fun you’ll have and the less likely you are to worry about things that may be different.

Get ready for a perfectly imperfect summer, Weequahic. We can’t wait!

PS: If you’d like to purchase a copy of Juneymoon, you can find it here. It’s very well worth the read!

Summer camp sports league play

Imagining Failure and…

I just received my 25th College Reunion notice today. Which made me think about what I was doing about this time 25 years ago. One thing that stands out: waiting to hear whether or not I had been accepted to the Masters of Sport Psychology program at school.

My parents, always supportive, told me I’d get in. My golf coach had written a great recommendation and thought I’d get in. I’d taken classes with the head of the program and worked as hard as possible to keep up. I thought I would get in… but I wasn’t sure.

And, if I hadn’t been accepted, I had no idea what my next steps would be.

Looking back on it, that lack of ‘what if’ planning was a big problem.

Learn to Fail or Fail to Learn

Failing to imagine how to handle failure is pretty common. In fact, during the two years it took me to earn that Masters in Sport Psychology (yes, I got in), I cannot remember ever once hearing we should help our athletes/kids/friends visualize failure. I was taught to help others imagine and plan their future success.

Say you wanted to complete a perfect tumbling pass in gymnastics. I’d ask you to see every move in your mind’s eye, imagine the pressure on your hands, the explosiveness in your legs, the feel of the floor, the sound of the music. Imagine, in every detail possible, the successful completion of the event. Even the high-five from your coach at the end.

This is all you need to succeed: hard work, visualizing the perfect outcome, and trusting the process of improvement. Right?

Wrong. It’s vital that we spend some time visualizing failure… and how we’ll handle it.

How You’ll Handle It

Dr. Stefi Cohen, world champion powerlifter, author, and business owner, recently spoke with Tim Ferriss about failing to make some lifts that were ‘easy’ for her in a competition. As a background, Dr. Cohen was the first woman to deadlift 4.4 times her weight – 540lbs. Crazy!

When she didn’t hit that ‘easy’ first weight, she lost it. Couldn’t continue. She was totally wrecked, both mentally and emotionally. This had been on ongoing issue for her.

A few days later, she decided she needed help with her approach. Working with a sports psychologist, Dr. Cohen started to visualize failing and how she planned on handling it.

After several months of work (and lifting), she got back into competing. And promptly failed her first lift. And her second. Then she ADDED weight and won the competition on the final lift.

How was she able to make such a turnaround? She had decided how she would handle failure – with thoughtfulness, humor, and resolve. And, she had imagined the experience in great detail over and over and over.

Failing at Camp

Believe it or not, we spend time during the off-season imagining why some of our as-yet-untried new ideas for camp did not work. Andy Stanley talks about this as a future ‘post mortem.’

By taking this approach, we’ve made our ideas better. We’ve found challenges and potential issues and planned our way around them. We’ve even decided not to do a few things after putting in the work.

Campers, this is also why I’ve asked every one of you this question: ‘When things don’t go well at camp – because sometimes they won’t – how will you handle it?’

Plan for missing home. Get ready for a miscommunication with another camper or a counselor. Prepare for a meal you don’t love. The more you plan for the (very rare) challenges at camp, the better you’ll be at handling them and getting back into the fun.

Preparing for Summer ’21

The good news? We’ve got lots of ideas on how to help you through the challenges. In fact, next week’s Campfire Conversation with Rikki Goldenberg is focused directly on this topic for campers, parents and staff. She’ll help us all get ready for a great summer! And, of course, we are always here for a call or Zoom chat. Let us help!

Have a great week, Weequahic!

Together

There is a lot going on right now in the world which is confusing, concerning, and scary. This is true for our campers as much as it is for the adults.

Want some good news? We’ll get through it. Especially if we work together and focus on that which we can control: our attitude, our courage, and our connection with others.

The Dalai Lama, one of the great leaders of our time, said this:

“If a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it’s not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”

Personally, I believe the problems in the world today are fixable. Either way, let’s not worry. Let’s do something about it. Many are already leading the way.

The scientific community has done an amazing job at creating vaccines that will work. The healthcare community has been outstanding in their efforts to keep us healthy. Our teachers are doing so much to provide as much continuity as possible. Parents are doing their all to keep things light and fun at your home. Many kids, including several you know, are giving back to their communities.

What we need now are same things needed for communities since we humans first gathered around a campfire: connection with each other, hope for the future, and the willingness to do what it takes to get to that future together.

A Camp Solution

At Camp Weequahic, we are fortunate in many ways. Though we have campers and staff from all over the world, we have the ability to focus just on each other rather than everything going on around us. That’s one benefit of the low-tech camp environment.

We have our core values which provide a foundation for all that we do.

The combination of these two elements lead to something is greater than the sum of its parts: a fantastic community in which unleashes our best selves.

Weequahic, let’s take these two aspects of camp and put them into practice back home, in school, and in the rooms and fields and pools of play. With a bit of effort and a whole lot of grit, you can actually influence the little world around you.

If we all do it, imagine the good we can create… together.