June 23, 2015
On Sunday night, we had our second Vespers. On the boys side, I shared my Warrior-Worrier story. I have included that story as a separate blog today: http://blog.campchampions.com/our-warrior-vs-our-worrier.On the girls side, the campers in 7-11 (those who just finished 9th grade and are in the first year of the Senior Camper program), each wrote a letter that they read to the girls. Susie Ma’am loves this night and always requests that the girls share a copy of their letters with her. In today’s blog, I would like to include three of them.
Before I do so, please allow me a few words of explanation. First, teenage girls are somewhat inclined to hyperbole. They generally do NOT understate things. Second, teens inevitably give their parents too little credit and camp a bit too much credit. As a result, they will say things like “camp taught me to be myself”. I know that this is not really true. All of our campers are products of loving parents and a myriad of experiences that shape them throughout the year. Camp is not the sole teacher of any important skill or attribute.
Camp, however, can be a rich and fertile place to cultivate good habits, improve self confidence, and develop positive internal narratives. At its best, camp can help amplify a camper’s best attributes. It’s summer enrichment, but not for school grades or academic skills - rather, it’s enrichment of character.
For teens, I think this is especially important. If your camper is younger, you might not completely realize that the worshipful gaze of your 9-year old will soon morph into the eye-rolls of the average teen. As our children get older, we parents get less cool in their eyes.
This is natural. In fact, it is a necessary part of their maturation – they want to establish an identity that is separate from us. As parents, we can’t always teach independence. But our children need it nevertheless.
So their growing up process can be a little scary sometimes. If they are not listening to us, who are they listening to? Other teens? That is not always the best possible news.
It is my hope that at right about the time our children stop listening to us parents (or at least trying hard to ACT like they are not listening), they will still listen to our counselor role models who are still young enough to be cool in their minds.
Susie Ma’am likes to tell a story of our own daughter after a session at camp. She declared that her counselors were the “smartest ever” and began to share some of the counselors’ advice. Susie Ma’am then listened as Terrill repeated verbatim information that she (Susie) had told the counselors during orientation. Part of her wanted to say “hey, I said that!”, but she then thought “hey, it’s nice that she is getting the message!”
With all of that said, here are three of the 25 7-11 “love letters” to camp:
Some people go to camp just to have fun. I am proud to say that I don’t. I come to camp to learn how to lead, work, be strong and be confident with my inner self. Most teenagers do not know who they are outside of other people. But I don’t believe that this is the case for me or my cabinmates. Camp has taught us to be content and to be our own selves. To be given a place such as this to grow is a tremendous gift. We are allowed to embrace who we are and what we want. Before coming to camp, I would enter a room and worry “who in here likes me?” and now I can confidently ask “who in here do I like?” I am grateful to everyone on the girls side and beyond for giving me the power to live and think that way. Thank you for helping me grow into who I am now and continue on to what I will become. Thank you for taking in a caged bird and helping her soar.
Dear Girls Side,
I really, really love camp. When I think of love, marriage comes to mind. I don’t want to marry camp because that would be weird, but I’m going to relate camp to the idea of marriage. Camp has given me something old, new, borrowed and blue.
Something blue is the skies and the water of Lake LBJ that I look to and feel at peace with the world. Something borrowed is the cabins and facilities of camp used term after term, year after year that remain special. Something old is my closest friends I return to see every year. While we may not talk everyday, I know I can trust all of my cabinmates and they’ll be there for me all year. Of all that camp has given me, something new is the most important. Something new is a bigger and better sense of self, that I couldn’t have found anywhere else. So to Susie Ma’am, Steve Sir, Leah Ma’am and all of the girls side, I am forever grateful.
Dearest Camp Champions,
This is a letter to you expressing my love, thanks and care for each of you. God has given every individual a special gift so they can give back and I want all of you to find yours and learn to use it.
God has blessed me with the ears to hear, that heart to listen, and the hands to help. Without the guidance of camp, I may not have discovered my gifts. I am learning to have the heart of a champion and I will serve, lead, and love with every bit of it.
I encourage all of you to hang onto what they teach you here. They have taught me to love myself today and improve myself tomorrow. And by listening to Susie Ma’am and Steve Sir, I have learned about humility when you are a part of something as big and great as this right here, you can’t help to be humbled.
I am work in progress. I will never be perfect, but I can only get better from here. Thank you for being a part of the journey. Become the champion that God intends for you to be!
Want more like this? See: http://blog.campchampions.com/how-to-help-kids-build-self-confidence