Boys in PondThe rain today has been a lovely variation from the last few weeks.

Here is a summary of the various gifts we enjoyed.

  • The counselors created individual magic with their cabins.  Untethered from our schedule and limited in range, they planned games, card tournaments and crafts projects.
  • One of the skills that help predict for success in life is flexibility and adaptability.  Our team modeled both today.
  • Boys played in puddles.  My observation is that puddles are to boys as boxes are to kittens or children.  You can buy a baby or a pet the best possible present and then watch as he/she plays with the box for an hour.  Camp can have the most amazing toys, but nothing beats a big, sloppy puddle.
  • Holding activities in the rain is like holding entirely new activities.
  • Our guest photographer took an morning shower to increase his core temperature.  I am not sure we have ever had that problem at camp in July.
  • During our leadership meeting in the morning, two of our more delightful leaders stood at the door greeting each of us as we entered our house.  They were like a pit crew, helping dry us, giving us towels and taking our shoes.  I modeled service and creativity.  Lovely.

We postponed the Lake Swim for the Aquanauts this morning.  We usually swim from 6:30 to 7:30 on the last Monday, but the heavy rains precluded that.   They will do their Lake Swim during first period tomorrow while the Maxis will swim during 2nd.

Let me take a moment to tell you about or swim challenges.

Each camper gets a chance to embrace a grand swim challenge.  One of the original founders of the camp, Hondo Crouch, started the Lake Swim in 1967.  Hondo was a fascinating man.  He was an all-American swimmer at the University of Texas and he brought his passion for swimming to camp.  He was also a true character.  He would have been the kind of counselor that any boy would love to have and any parent would worry about.  For example, I have met at least 10 people who have said, “Hondo taught me to chew tobacco.”

My heart stops at the idea.

But he was also a great humorist and story teller.  Willie Nelson and Jerry Jeff Walker have written songs about him.  The founder of Luckenbach, Texas, he could mesmerize a room with his tales and images.

But I digress.

When he created the Lake Swim, all campers of all ages swam across Lake LBJ and back (roughly 700-750 meters).   We have since determined that it is a bit much for an 8-year old, but the tradition continues for the Maxis and Aquanauts. The fastest times are usually around 15 minutes and the final swimmers finished this year around 40-41 minutes.

For the Midis and Letterman (roughly ages 10-12/13), they swim a full kilometer in the boys’ swimbay (10 laps or 20 lengths).  It is a bit of a challenge because the lake is choppy and the length of the laps (50 meters) is not short.  It is easier than the Lake Swim because it allows for rests, but it is still quite an accomplishment.

The youngest campers (the Minis and Rookies) attempt to swim a kilometer in the pool: 20 laps or 40 lengths.  This challenge fits them because the water is clearer, smoother and the laps shorter.

Not every camper finishes the swim.  We, after all, believe in challenge-by-choice, but we encourage them to try their best.  When they find the task a bit too much, we are sure to frame their efforts in terms of their own circumstances.  For a camper who is a reluctant swimmer, swimming just half a kilometer in the lake is certainly a bigger accomplishment than a full kilometer for a camper on her home swim team.

It is a challenge to find the right balance between encouraging the camper to strive beyond his comfort zone and pushing too hard, but we have become skilled at doing so.  Each year, I watch dozens of campers who KNEW that they were incapable of swimming their kilometer (or the Lake Swim) only to see their triumphant faces arrive at the end of the swim.

At its best, camp expands a camper’s sense of his/her own capability.  They leave with an expanded sense of their ability, which then leads them to embrace other “reasonable risks” at camp and at home.

Today, the Midi, Rookies and Lettermen swam their kilometers.  The Minis will take their swim tomorrow, just like the Maxis and Aquanauts.

We expect to be back onto our usual schedule tomorrow and look forward to a wonderful final few days!

Steve Sir

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