As parents, what we want most for our children is to learn their lessons well. In school, we encourage them to perfect skills that will form a backbone of learning and experience to bolster them throughout their lives.
When I think of everything I know that has paved the way for a successful adulthood, I credit my teachers for instilling in me a passion for language and books. Though, when I think of what I have learned that has mattered most to carry me through the decades, those lessons came from summers at Agawak.
There is magic in these woods and in our friendships formed at camp that infuse us with qualities we will utilize throughout all the passage of our lives. These are the big four: Independence, Collaboration, Perseverance and Resilience.
Away from Mom and Dad, we learn how to take care of ourselves and to take care of others. We learn in bouts of homesickness how to soothe ourselves, by engaging in new activities and new friendships that over the years begin to feel like family. We learn to comfort our cabin-mates when they are going through their own bouts of missing their parents, or simply having a bad day.
We learn team-building and collaborative skills not only in team games, but in navigating life in a cabin filled with all sorts of girls with all sorts of personalities. We learn the value of appreciating diversity and demonstrating inclusion.
We learn never to give up. In mastering new activities, whether it be the Lake Swim or getting up on a slalom ski or portaging for the first time on canoe trips, we push our hardest. We are often discouraged and exhausted. Yet, we keep at it, we persevere. Learning this as a child is something we never forget as adults, when we face many challenges that take keeping on keeping on – and never giving up!
Finally, we come away from camp as creatures who have GRIT, which is one of Mary’s favorite words and a character trait I know to be truly realized at camp. Camp girls are resilient creatures. We bounce back from defeat. Camp girls learn how to be flexible and strong in a variety of situations and with a variety of people. Camp girls learn to push through their fears. Camp girls know that failure is a good thing as it motivates us to work harder at victory the next time around.
Camp girls learn their lessons well at camp, amidst the backdrop of towering trees and an open sky, and during the weeks that open our hearts and minds for a lifetime.