Who doesn’t wish that camp lasted all year long? The good news is that camp skills are lifetime skills, and they can make your boy’s school year as smooth and enjoyable as a sunny kayak trip on the Guadalupe. Here are just some of the life lessons our campers got this summer that translate beautifully to the academic setting — Independence, Responsibility, Freedom-from-the-digital-tether, and Discipline. And they were having fun all the while!
Your guys survived two weeks (or a month!) without anyone telling them when to study or what clothes to wear. Instead, they decided on their own how fast to walk to make it from canoeing to riflery on time.
Our guys learned loads about how responsibility yields independence. Yes, they can make their bed. They can wield a broom. They can set and clean a dining hall table. They can wash behind their ears. Mastering these tasks, no matter how off-putting they begin, builds independence. Your independent young men should be able to jump into the school year’s new opportunities with gusto, knowing that he’s a master of responsibility and his success potential is grand.
They returned home having begun to master the art of self-reliance and enjoying the self-esteem which accompanies it. Hopefully, you’re getting to witness at home what we see in the summer — the spark of pride and confidence exhibited following even the smallest tasks and accomplishments.
We call that success. There’s nothing better to boost confidence and morale than success, and our campers got to experience it over and over. They had multiple activities and multiple chances to succeed and contribute to their ranch. They had cleanup battles and rest period games.
At the same time, our Guys learned that success can sometimes be elusive. They discovered, in a non-threatening environment, that trying and missing can fuel your desire and your sense of perseverance. Coming up a little short is not a failure, it’s merely coming up a little short. This school year, your little guy will have some defeats to go with his successes. Hopefully, we’ve equipped him to keep it all in perspective. Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.”
We’re optimistic that our guys will put themselves out there during the school year, try some new things, and increase their opportunities to succeed. After all, the more things you try, the more things you have the chance of being good at.
A thunderbolt discovery for some of your guys was the revelation that they can indeed survive being unplugged, most of them for an entire month! No phone, no video games, no social media. If they can do it for a month, they can do it for a weekend, or an evening. They can have friends over and play in the back yard, shoot hoops, or watch a ball game with all their phones in a basket.
And finally, your guys got a steady taste of routine. At camp, everything happens on time, and they get used to it happening that way. They wake up at reveille, raise the flag, hear a prayer, sit down together, and chow down on breakfast. After breakfast, they head to their cabins, make their beds, pick up, clean up, check their schedules, change clothes, and head to class.
Routine makes habit, aka discipline. Learning to be disciplined leads to all kinds of excellence. As Colin Powell said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception; it is a prevailing attitude.”
Maybe most importantly headed into the school year, our guys have practiced the critical skill of setting goals. We discuss this around main camp and in activities. With Rough Rider nominees and Black Eagles. With Sportsmanship awards and Shotgun of the day. With Riflery and with Tennis. You gotta set goals. You gotta know what you’re striving for. You’ll never get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
So now that camp is over and the big school year is upon us, encourage your boys to make it a great one. Consider telling them what we would: Study hard — Listen to the teachers — Be nice to girls. We can’t wait to see you in 2020.
Life is Good. Camp is Better (than school)!