Tag: Courage

Speaking from the Heart

At Camp Weequahic, we talk a lot about ‘courage.’ It’s one of our three main values for one very good reason. To quote Maya Angelou:

Without courage we cannot practice any other virtue with consistency. We can’t be kind, true, merciful, generous, or honest.

It’s good when you are generous and kind to a friend. It’s even more so when you treat someone you don’t know. What’s the very best? When you treat everyone that way, consistently – even those people you don’t like or feel like you shouldn’t.

Doing so takes courage. It requires us to be uncomfortable and, possibly, afraid of the consequences.

Learning a Lesson

When I was a senior in high school, I got a lead part in our three-act play. I was known at school as the preppy, conservative golfer. The young lady playing the female lead – and my character’s love interest – was a liberal, artsy, ‘rebel’ in my opinion. We both got some grief from our respective groups about having to work together. I was not happy… and neither was she.

We were neither generous nor kind to each other over the first few weeks. Then, grudgingly, we started to appreciate one another. On the final night of actual show, we stood on stage accepting the applause while holding each other closely. We had become good friends who appreciated each other, despite our differences.

I often think back and wonder how much better the play would have been had we both had the courage to be kind and generous to each other.

The Heart of Courage

The word courage is an interesting one and one that is linked very closely to the ‘Heart of Weequahic’ video we showed right before this campfire talk. The best person I know of to speak about this is Dr. Brene Brown:

“Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant ‘To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.’ Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds. But in my opinion, this definition fails to recognize the inner strength and level of commitment required for us to actually speak honestly and openly about who we are and about our experiences — good and bad. Speaking from our hearts is what I think of as ‘ordinary courage.’”

Isn’t that great? I love how Dr. Brown drills down to the essence of things and puts these big ideas in such a way that we can apply them to our lives right now.

Ordinary courage is having the courage to speak honestly and openly about who we are and our experiences. It’s also about listening and accepting the gift of someone else doing the same.

My Heart Right Now

I’ll take a moment and speak from my heart.

These last five weeks have been the most difficult of my camping career. The uncertainty is the worst part: will the Pennsylvania Depart of Health allow us to open? What will the American Camp Association and CDC guidelines for summer camps require? How will our campers, families and staff members handle this experience and the decisions for this summer? Will we start on time, a few days or weeks late, or not at all? What will this do to our campers, our families, our staff, our camp and our full-time team?

I go through these incredible swings of emotions every day: I get a piece of news that leads me to think we are going to start on time and think this will be the most incredible summer ever. A few hours later, I get another piece of news that puts doubt into my heart.

Kate, Sue, Dana, Scrappy, Cammie, Jerry, John and I make plans, and the more plans, and then more again. Everything we are doing right now centers on two things: safety and flexibility. Thankfully, our suppliers feel the same way. Both Amerasport and CampTrucking will offer full refunds if camp doesn’t happen. The ACA is allowing medical forms to be filled out within the past 24 months. PackMyRx – our new camper medication fulfillment company – would send the medications home rather than to camp.

This Summer

Will we open? I don’t know. Are we planning to open? ABSOLUTELY! Are we coming up with a ton of ‘just in case’ plans? Of course. We’ll all know more in the next three weeks. As soon as we know which plan we can put in place, I’ll let all of our families know.

One other piece of my heart to share: thank you. Speaking on behalf of the team, I’m so grateful for the support, patience and love our families and staff have shown over the past several weeks. We know y’all want camp. We know that you all know that we want camp. We are going to do everything in our power to put have us all back safely at Weequahic this summer.

Whatever happens, I know our Weequahic family will face the situation with a grateful outlook, an intentionally chosen attitude, and the ordinary courage required to share our hearts. We all love you. Be safe, patient, and hopeful. We’ll all get through this… together.

Profiles in Courage

The following was adapted from our final Campfire talk during Summer ‘17. With our families in Houston and South Florida dealing with the forces of nature, I thought it would be appropriate. All of our thoughts and prayers are with y’all!

It takes courage to…. Remain Hopeful

A bit more than 100 years ago, Ernest Shakleton decided he wanted to be the first to cross the Antarctic by land.  This was well before good heaters, engines, and safe/fast boats as we know them today.

The goal was a big deal in England and elsewhere. In fact, his advertisement for staff is almost as famous as what later happened:

“Men wanted for hazardous journey, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant threat of danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.”

Shakelton and the 27 men signed on set sail on his boat Endurance for the South Pole. All was going well until disaster struck at the very edge of Antartica – the Endurance, one of the strongest boats on the seas at the time, was trapped by ice.

Over the following week, the boat was slowly crushed and destroyed leaving 27 men thousands of miles from home, stuck on the ice with little food, few supplies, and no ability to call for help.

How does Shakelton respond? The expedition’s doctor documented the explorer’s words:

“It’s a pity but that cannot be helped. It’s the men we have to think about.”

Over the next 22 months, Shakleton’s team lived on the ice, battled the elements, made an impossible sea voyage to an island 800 miles away to find help for the whole party, climbed over and down a mountain having not eaten in weeks, found help, and sailed back immediately to get his comrades.

The most amazing thing? Every one of Shakleton’s men made it home safely. His courage led to hope not only for himself but also for those for whom he cared.

It takes courage to…. Stand Up for What’s Right

In 1955, our country was not in a good place. There were terrible laws in some states requiring people to sit in different spots, use different water fountains, and go to different schools because of the color of their skin.

One woman, Rosa Parks, had been affected by this system of repression for her 42 years of life. Coming home one evening from her job as a seamstress, Mrs. Parks was asked to move from her seat to make room for a white man. She said ‘No.’

She knew what would happen and it did – she was arrested and taken to jail. Can you believe that? Just for not moving to the back of the bus.

Some thought she must have been tired, the reason for her not moving. Mrs. Parks responded:

“I wasn’t physically tired… No, the only tired I was, was tired of giving in.”

This was a courageous thing to do. What is courage but being fearful and doing the right thing anyway?

But, Mrs. Parks was not done yet.

Later that evening, after being bailed out of prison, Mrs. Parks agreed to be the focal point in a lawsuit brought against the City of Birmingham and the face of a boycott that lasted for over 300 days.

In the end, through threats and difficulty, right was awarded and those awful laws were changed.

It takes courage to…. Be Vulnerable

A very smart person named Dr. Brene Brown has spent a long time studying the important topics of courage, belonging, worth, and vulnerability. Let’s start with courage:

It comes from ‘coer’ which is latin for ‘heart.’ In Dr. Brown’s words, courage means to tell the story of who you are with your whole heart.

And here’s the thing – you are not perfect. You already know this. You have a few habits your want to change, a thought or two you’d like to not have, automatic responses that you would like to be different.

So, you have to have the courage to be imperfect. This takes compassion to be kind to yourself, first. Then, you can build connection to others as a result of your authenticity. But to be authentic, you have to be vulnerable.

It’s not fun but it’s necessary. And, you don’t get a guarantee that it will go your way. But here’s the important thing Dr. Brown found out – vulnerability is birthplace of love, joy, creativity, and belonging.

So, in order to ‘belong’ you have to be vulnerable. In order to be vulnerable, you have to be courageous.

The Need for Courage

As that really old dude said thousands of years ago, “Courage is the first of human values because it makes all others possible.” (It was Aristotle.)

The good news? Courage is like a muscle – the more you use it, the more you’ll have. Start small and start soon. While you might not ever be trapped on the ice for two years, you will have moments in your life that call for a courageous decision made or action taken.

We wish for all of our families (and everyone else) involved with recovering from hurricanes a quick and safe return to their lives.

Friday Night Campfire: Courage at Camp Weequahic

We are getting very close to our national celebration of fear and mischief. No, I’m not talking aboutac9u9965 the upcoming the Presidential Election. Halloween is just around the corner! As such, I thought it would be a good time to talk about one of our major values: COURAGE.

There are so many great quotes on courage:

  • “Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu
  • “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” – J.K. Rowling
  • “Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

My two favorites come from Maya Angelou and Nelson Mandella, two great teachers who showed extraordinary courage throughout their lives. Ms. Angelou said, “courage is the most important of all the virtues because, without courage, you can’t practice any other virtue consistently.”

ac9u9932I couldn’t agree more. Honesty sometimes comes with a price. To be charitable, you have to be willing to give what is yours, even if you feel you don’t have enough. Kindness can be difficult to lend in situations that demand it. Patience certainly requires courage to allow the situation to come to the final result. Humility is sometimes described as ‘courage of the heart.’

Ok, so if courage is so important to all the other virtues, then, what is it? Mr. Mandella described it thusly: “courage is not the absence of fear but the triumph over it.

At camp, we get to practice that triumph a lot. I use ‘get to’ because, at Weequahic, almost everything is a choice. (Check out our post on friendship to learn about what we require.)

Whether we are jumping off the pamper pole, getting up on stage for the first time, trying something new, or reaching out to build a new friendship, we all practice courage each and every day. The best part is that we get to do it together with friends and mentors who are practicing the same thing.ac9u0068

How are you practicing your courage back home? Just like your muscles, courage gets smaller when not used. Here are some suggestions to grow your courage each day: Be kind to someone when it may be easier to go with the crowd and be mean or, worse, ignore them. Be patient with a younger sibling. Tell the truth. Try something new.

Spend some time with your fear by recognizing it and doing it says you can’t do anyway. When you practice it, your courage will blossom. And, as your courage grows, so will your horizons.

Have a great weekend and a safe Halloween!

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