Failure as our Friend

Carpe diem.

Happy spring & pre-camp 2019!  Lauren & I are thinking a lot about how best to support all of our camp parents as you get ready to “say goodbye” to your camper for a week or seven.  Whether you are a veteran camp parent or this is your first summer, we are mindful that you will be experiencing a gamut of raw emotions around the transition to camp.  As parents, educators & fellow humans…we view our owner/director role partly as guides for all of our camp parents.  To that end, we wanted to share a tidbit of “parent ed” that we have found useful.

This off season we gifted each member of our Year-Round and summer leadership team the book, The Power of Moments by Dan & Chip Heath.  In it the co-authors break down the Why as well as the How of creating meaningful and memorable moments in all aspects of our lives.  One particular anecdote hit a nerve for many of us.  Sara Blakely, the founder of Spanx, talks with the authors about how she has used failure to propel her toward finding success and meaning in her life.  She recalls a ritual at her family dinner table growing up where her father would posit the weekly question:  “What did you fail at this week?”

Blakely continues…“He knew that many people become paralyzed by the fear of failure. My father wanted us to try everything and feel free to push the envelope. His attitude taught me to define failure as not trying something I want to do instead of not achieving the right outcome.”

Wow!  Imagine if our children learn consistently that failure is not a “bad word” or something to be deathly feared.  Imagine if our children are encouraged, challenged & wholeheartedly supported in stretching beyond their comfort zones.  As parents, we want our children to become independent, resilient & confident.  The rub is that we can not develop these critical lifelong attributes without real conflict or tension.  The growth we hope our children experience happens through the hard and messy “work” of leaning into discomfort.  It is when we overcome adversity that we evolve.

At Blue Star we view our good work through the lens of creating a safe & healthful space where our staff can support our campers in experiencing meaningful positive growth.  It is not linear, nor is it easy.  One camp story that comes to mind is of a Senior camper who all but refused to climb Pinnacle several years ago.  They were hyper self-conscious of their physical size and did not possess the confidence to complete the hike.  A member of their leadership team enthusiastically encouraged them to go for it and leap beyond their comfort zone; after all, the staff member let them know that HE believed in them and would be right there with them.  Halfway up the mountain, the staff member literally put the camper on his back and finished the hike with them.  When the camper became a Teen Villager in their final year as a camper, they spoke at a Friday night Shabbat service about the growth and confidence they experienced over the years as a Blue Star camper.  The original thoughts centered around that very Pinnacle experience and brought the long-time staff member to tears.

We invite you to partner with us on this developmental journey.  With your trust, we believe firmly that we can help our campers become less fearful of failure; moreover, we are working towards teaching our campers how to turn failure into their friend.

 

One thought on “Failure as our Friend

  1. This is amazing and I will surely be passing this wisdom on, not only to my children, but applying it to MYSELF as well. Thank you for this.

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