I am about to take my oldest child off to college. Across the country in a different climate, where she knows no one and will start pursuing a new life. I am listening to those who have been giving me advice because they have done this already. Everyone says the same thing. Be strong! So I am mustering all my courage to get through the next few days, weeks and months to find my new normal. I started to ask myself, did I teach her to be courageous?? Can you teach someone that?
As a camp director, I think I try to do this for every camper and camp gives the opportunity to be courageous every day. That is the beauty and power of camp! It takes courage to walk up to someone you don’t know and say hello. For some, it takes more courage than others. It takes courage to try something new and be willing to fail at it. It takes a lot of courage to climb to the top of a 40-foot pole and JUMP off!
All of these things are done at summer camp! So my daughter, who is, of course, a camper, has been doing all of this stuff for awhile, but did I teach her courage? After a few sleepless nights, I have come to the conclusion that it does not matter. I gave her the opportunity to learn to be courageous and did not get in her way to learn the lessons. Sometimes it went well and other times, I am sure, it did not.
Camp offers so many chances to be courageous on a daily basis. From small things like dressing about as crazy as possible on “Wacky Wednesday”, to big things like standing up for someone who is being mistreated. At Camp Lantern Creek, we focus on talking to the middle school girls about not always trying to “fit in,” but to try to “stand out” as yourself.
It is so hard to do at this stage of life when all the social pressures are telling you to follow the group, even if the group is doing something questionable. It doesn’t end in Middle School. We all have to remember these lessons and maintain our courage. Even as a mom we have to fight the pressure of buying the phone, to read or not read their texts and social media posts. A good friend just asked me if I had full access to my children’s phones? Her daughter did not want her to read everything because she felt like she did not have any privacy and was not trusted. My advice, be courageous as a mother and say,
Sorry, trust is earned, and I am here to teach you online etiquette, not censor you.
I know this friend knew that many professionals have written about monitoring your kid’s online profiles, yet it takes courage to do it. We too, as mothers, have to set the example of being true to ourselves and follow our instincts.
Recently another camper of mine, who also went off to college, said she knew her and her roommate would get along fine because her roommate also went to summer camp. She knew right away that this young lady was coming into her life knowing how to live with someone else, be respectful, share shower time, private space and was going to be willing to take some chances.
It is a really good observation to recognize that if you went to camp that the college roommate you are about to meet might be more ready than others merely because they went to summer camp too! This young lady said to her mom as they were leaving that she was going to think of college similar to camp. She is not saying goodbye just see you later after a great personal adventure full of courage and growth.
So now it’s time to let go and hope that all the lessons I taught either by reading the texts or posts and helping edit them or by sending her away from me to find her courage to do the things that are right for her. It will take all of my courage to do it, but here it goes.