During my years of involvement in CampToBelong, there were so many lessons about life, resiliency, courage and acceptance. There are four wisdoms that continue to shape my life as a speaker, author and consultant that seem so simple, yet as a society, we often contradict them at every pass. Not only are these four wisdoms accepted at CampToBelong, they are encouraged.
Scream like you mean it.
But at Camp, we turn up the volume. Even when we want to quiet down the campers to give direction, we scream, “And a hush fell over the crowd,” as the din of our loud voice trails off. In the dining hall where we are really supposed to be quiet in ‘real life’, we start pounding the tables in unison and scream for one group to serenade another. When one camper is trying to make it up the climbing wall, every other camper and counselor in sight screams, “You can do this!” at the top of their lungs. We raise our voices loudly, proudly, and with purpose.
What I learned at Camp is that screaming can be excitement, often resonating with laughter, inviting others in and showing belief in the possibility.
Waiting is patience.
Our daily lives seem to be all about hurry up, hurry up. We hurry up to get our kids out the door. Drivers take up every inch on the road as though a couple feet are going to get them somewhere quicker. We start tapping the steering wheel when the drive through does not deliver quick enough. We are up against constant deadlines, often making our hysteria someone else’s.
But at Camp, we wait patiently. The first step off the zip line platform takes time with an ebb and flow of people on the ground encouraging with yells of, “You can do it!” and moments of silence to allow the camper the time to build courage. At the closing campfire, a camper may come forward more than once before finding the words to share thoughts about their experience at Camp. We wait as they at first stammer, then begin to collect and share their thoughts.
What I learned at Camp is waiting is patience. It exemplifies respectful and brings fulfillment in whatever transpires on a schedule that may not be our own.
Tears are real and everyone should cry.
There is a song, “Big Boys Don’t Cry.” Some say it is a sign of weakness. Men should hold in their emotions and thus their tears.
But at Camp, the male counselors and campers allow their eyes to brim with tears. Then those tears stream down their faces. It is a sign of real emotion and unguarded feelings that often times unexpectedly come out of nowhere and bring depth to experience.
What I learned at Camp is that tears are raw and real. When men and boys cry, it gives permission to other men and boys to express their feelings too. It shows heart and soul. There is nothing weak in this expression.
People applaud and compliment volunteerism with handshakes and high fives, acknowledging how wonderful it is that one serves, gives back, helps, and participates.
But at Camp, volunteers do not need or want applause – most volunteers are selfless voyagers who jump in the trenches just because and to be a cause.
What I learned at Camp is that we get so much more when we give. We learn and grow. We embrace receiving the greatest joys of meaningful connection and interaction.
While these wisdoms may appear to not be acceptable and discouraged in ‘real life’, they come to life at Camp.