An age-old parenting question is, “How do we create an environment for our children that allows them to develop positive character traits?” Character that will be necessary for them to thrive, and be successful contributing members of society. Great question!
It’s the same question that we’re asking ourselves at camp as we partner with families.
One of the silver linings of not having a normal summer this year was the amount of time I got to spend with campers and families in the role of lifeguard. It was very different from my role as camp director for the last several years! I got to spend at least half of most days working on the waterfront, and many times my job was to guard The Web.
Since we built The Web two summers ago, I have been an enthusiastic fan but not an avid participant. The honest reason for my resistance: looking foolish and failing.
While foolishness and failure are certainly part of the experience, let me clue you in on the deeper lessons of The Web.
When most people see it, their imagination is stirred by a sense of curiosity, excitement, and dread. Common questions and comments are: What is that? How do you do it? Do you have to go around the entire thing? Is this a race? And what do I have to do to win?
Many folks choose the challenge, and many more stay stuck on an island of excuses. “My back, my arm, my age, my height, my weight, my Lord that thing looks impossible!”
The truth is: The Web is very difficult to complete for almost everyone, and it’s extremely rare for anyone to accomplish the feat on their first try.
Like most challenges in life, you have to learn some skills and fail a few times before you find success. This ideal always reminds me of Thomas Edison, who failed many times before inventing a working light bulb. Edison said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.”
Learning from failure is the ideal, but it’s certainly not always the norm. Many times when we fail we move to anger, frustration, comparison, and excuses. These are common first reactions to failure.
The important thing is to make sure they’re not the last reactions to failure.
Failure is often the needed and necessary invitation to developing determination, creativity, and fierceness. If you are unable or unwilling to learn from failure, your life experience will be limited and, dare I say, uninteresting.
Time and time again the fallen webber would return to where they started and try again, and again, and again until they went as far as they could. Many were able to conquer the entire web. When they accomplished their quest they received a necklace to mark the achievement.
Regardless of how far they went, the Rockmont Way is to encourage and bless everyone who had the courage to try again.
“How do you create an environment for your children that allows them to develop positive character traits?” You put them in a situation where challenge draws them in and where failure is predictable.
They will fall and try again and again, and that is good news for them and for all of us.
Director of Camper and Family Development