July 11, 2021
Susie Ma’am meets with some of the older cabins for something she calls Friendship Games. In these, she brings them into our home, offers treats (slushys and cookies) and has a fun chat.
When she does her Friendship Games, she often has each girl pick a question out of a bowl that they will answer. Some are just fun, but some inspire thought: • What song or artist gets you dancing? • What traits do you share with your relatives? • If you could snap your fingers and go anywhere, what would you do? • What are some of the roles you play in your life? • What would a bolder version of yourself be like? • What advice would you give your 10 year-old self?
I am often in an adjoining room writing a blog or answering emails. I never hear the exact words, but I do hear laughter and excitement as they talk.
But this is not a philosophical blog. I just want to share a story and an observation. After having great success with the question asking “what would a bolder version of yourself be like”, Susie Ma’am suggested that our son use the question as part of a Nightly Ritual with his Senior Campers who all just finished 11th grade. Susie Ma’am proudly told him that her girls would talk about learning to snow ski or befriending a new person at school or trying out for a part in a school play. This question led to confident and affirming conversation.
Surely it would be perfect for rising Seniors.
It turns out that our son’s group has an odd sense of humor. After the first Senior Camper answered in a normal way (I think he talked about bungee jumping), the next young man derailed the entire conversation.
You see, he chose to hear a different question:
“What would a boulder version of yourself be like?”
If you think there is a limit to bad rock jokes, you missed this Nightly ritual. One camper was “rock steady”, another was “stone cold cool”, another said he “would not take anything for granite”.
Any effort to re-direct this crew only inspired them to double down, much to their delight.
Two Senior Campers decided to model what they would be like by sitting motionless for 5+ minutes.
I am not sure why 11th grade young men can be sillier than 6th grade girls, but I think this is actually healthy. They had to be comfortable enough with each other to be goofy. That only happens in spaces that feel accepting and loving, so that is a win.
The second question I want to share is the one about “what would you tell your 10 year old self?”
Susie Ma’am’s observation here is intriguing to me, though I have no real idea how to understand it.
If the cabin has campers finishing 7th or 8th grade, the answer is reflective. “I would tell myself to reach out to more friends.” “I would tell me to be nicer to my brother.” “I want to spend less time on Instagram and I would tell that to my younger me.”
Wow. That is great.
The insight level, however, changes radically when the cabin has girls who just finished 5th or 6th grade.
“I would tell myself to watch out for the wet spot in the school hallway on that Friday before English class.”
“I would make sure I did not tell my friend that one secret.”
“I would let myself know it would rain during our trip to the beach so I could pack a game.”
The aspect of this that intrigues me is that Susie Ma’am swears it is completely consistent. Of course, the person that answers the question first sets the stage. If the first person talks about one moment in her history, the next person will do the same. If that person talks about changes in narratives, others will follow suit. But it seems interesting that the line between one and the other is right around middle school.
In case you think I have a thoughtful summary that will make sense of this, please allow me to disappoint you. But I do find it both amusing and interesting.
BTW – As a 5th grader, I would have told my 10 year old self not to get that haircut for school picture day (classic bowl cut) that amuse my children to this day. As an 8th grader, I would have challenged myself to learn water skiing and snow skiing at a young age rather than wait until I was in my late 20’s. “Do not fear failure” would have been my mantra.
PS The photo has nothing to do with the blog, but I was delighted with this high-quality rainbow with the flags.