Challenge Faced. Confidence Built.

staff and camper on a sunny day at riding

As a counselor, there is nothing more exciting to me than helping a camper overcome a challenge. Camp is such an incredible place to push our physical boundaries. We want to carefully and thoughtfully encourage our campers to stretch their comfort zones. By doing this, campers start to recognize their potential for growth. As they learn to lean into challenges, they build confidence and develop poise in the face of adversity.

Part of my job at camp this summer is to mentor the Junior Counselors (the JCs). JCs are rising seniors in high school, and many of them have been coming to camp for ten or so years. Some of them I’ve known since they were on Hillbrook. Despite their general camp experience, most of them haven’t spoken in front of large crowds before. This morning, one of our JCs, Roe, was called upon to sing “Little Bunny Foo Foo” in her squeaky, high-pitched fairy voice in front of the whole camp at Rise and Shine. Her eyes widened. Her fingers began to fidget at her side, but her campers cheered. Once the campers began chanting her name, she really had no choice but to do it. As she stood to face the camp, I could practically feel her pulse racing. The camp started shouting out the verses of the song, gleefully anticipating Roe’s entrance as the good fairy. Right before her cue, Roe took a deep breath and then brazenly stepped forward belting “Little Bunny Foo Foo, I don’t want to see you, scooping up the field mice and bopping them on the head.” When the song ended, she was quick to sit back down, but not without a big smile of relief stretching across her face. She had done it! Challenge faced. Confidence built.

From that moment forward, I knew today would be a good day. The sun peeked out from behind last night’s rain clouds just in time for swimming at the lake. The lake is my favorite place at camp, especially given our warm weather, but for some campers the lake can be a little unsettling. I teach some of our youngest, newest swimmers, and one in particular is very nervous about the lake. She loves to swim at home in the pool, she says, but something about not seeing the bottom makes her anxious. For the past week and a half, she and I have sat on the side of the lake talking about swimming. Each day I invite her to swim with me and I tell her how much fun I have in the lake, but she just shakes her head. Instead, she just tells me about how she loves to swim breaststroke at home, and we splash our feet in the water.  Today though, for reasons I don’t think I’ll ever know, she told me she had decided she’d like to swim. I didn’t want to freak her out by jumping up and down in excitement, but that’s basically how I felt. We started by floating on a tube and then dipped our legs into the water.  Something was clearly different about her today. She had a determination that I hadn’t seen before. She asked if she could squeeze my hand as she slid her body all the way in the water so she was seated floating on a noodle.  At this point, I couldn’t help but squeal. I was just so proud!!

But get this. She floats on the noodle for a few minutes, and then looks at me and asks if she can go on the Tarzan rope swing. Are you serious??? She went from terrified of touching the lake to wanting to Tarzan in one day! And wouldn’t you know it, we walked over to the Tarzan rope swing. She stayed up at the top and I swam down to the bottom to catch her. I looked up at her from the water and saw her eyes narrow on the rope. As soon as she grabbed the rope, I had no doubt she would go for it. “1, 2, 3!” I shouted and she jumped! The whole lake erupted into cheers, and I’m telling you I couldn’t be prouder.  Each little challenge at camp teaches campers that they are capable. Conquering new tasks builds confidence.

I realize that these are two specific anecdotes from today, but I promise stories just like these crop up all over camp all day long. A girl trots on a horse for the first time, rolls a kayak by herself, ziplines from the Beanstalk or shoots a bullseye. We teach girls to acknowledge the challenges before them and work progressively to face them.

As the second week flies by, we are trying to cling to each day, to enjoy each moment here in this Heavenly place, and to learn to face the challenges before us. We savored today’s sausage and biscuit breakfast (one of my personal favorites), and Pineview girls soak up the warmth of a crackling fire while making s’mores at the Farm. I hope you’re soaking up whatever you’re doing too!

Until next time,