June 24, 2014
“By the yard, life is hard
By the inch, life’s a cinch”
Susie Ma’am loves to share this saying with our campers. Our hope is that they will learn that challenges that look initially daunting are far less so when you look at it as a series of mini-challenges.
Everywhere you look at camp, you see opportunities to apply this principle. That climbing wall looks mighty tall, but each additional handhold is wonderfully reachable. We also have colorful animals painted on the wall, so campers can climb to the turtle, then to the buffalo, and then to the top. Learning all the words and moves of a cabin Sing Song (a girls’ side tradition) becomes easy when broken into bite-sized chunks.
Even camp itself fits into this idea – campers often overcome their homesickness when they see camp as a series of fun activities and delightful days rather than long weeks.
Today, we had the Lake Swim and kilometer swims for our campers. Each term, every camper has the chance to embrace a swim challenge. The youngest campers swim a kilometer in the pool (20 laps), the middle campers swim a kilometer in our swim bay (10 longer laps) and the oldest campers swim across the lake and back. In each activity, the campers have the chance to break up the swim into achievable units. In the kilometer swims, the units are laps. In the Lake Swim, the campers swim within a column of kayaks. Those who find the swim more challenging can swim from one kayak to the next.
My favorite aspect of every swim challenge is the look of triumph that accompanies completion, especially for those campers that do not see themselves as strong swimmers. In fact, sometimes the camper with the slowest time who also wore a life jacket is the one that I am proudest of.
We like to remind campers that bravery is not being without fear. Bravery is trying something even when you are scared or intimidated. I believe that we become more brave by practicing bravery.
One of camp’s gifts is frequent chances to practice being braver, being more capable.
So do not be surprised when your camper stands a little taller on Closing Day – you are looking at someone that is a bit braver. . . by the inch.