Camp Woodland Blog

The Stuff from Which Growth is Made

Posted by on July 19, 2021

When others see what appears to be “success”, whether it be getting a good grade on a test or paper, a stellar performance at a recital or show, a star athlete on a winning sports team, a beautiful drawing/painting or piece of handmade art, a scholarship to a prestigious school, or any number of successes not mentioned here, the finale or end result is typically the only thing that is attributed to that success. The prize. The win. The score. The medal. The championship. The title. The award. The encore.

As the above illustration shows, this is really just the “tip of the iceberg” to that person’s success. There is so much else that is below the surface to that accomplishment that it is often overlooked or dismissed altogether. Jealousy and envy can creep in because from the outside looking in, the successful person makes it look so easy or natural. It may even appear to be effortless. We often think to ourselves that “this person has it all” or “they don’t even have to try”. We may even pass judgment that the success was a handout vs something earned.

In my last blog about the story of how Formula 409® got its name (it was the 409th attempt that was deemed to be “it”), I talked about all of the failures and mistakes that went into getting to the end result or success. At Woodland, we embrace the missteps, taking 2 steps back in addition to the 3 steps forward, the snafus, the blunders, the mess-ups, and/or the “almost” got its. I left you thinking about how finally being able to canter on the 12th attempt or doing a dive from the dock after the 21st bellyflop is the stuff from which growth is made.

On a recent run, I went down a street that is not on my usual route. Interestingly, I spotted a graduation sign in someone’s yard that read, “The tassel was worth the hassle.” To my earlier point, we often only see the “tassel”. We may not recognize the “hassle” that it took to finish a program of study and make it to graduation day. We know that graduating at any level is the culmination of several years of hoops and hurdles, struggles and challenges, and twists and turns. This is the “hassle” that helps get to the “tassel”. This too is an example of where the roots of growth spread far and deep.

If we take each of the characteristics that are below the surface on the iceberg – that which we don’t see attached to someone’s success – we can better understand the growth campers experience that leads them to their “win” (big or small) and what you will observe at the end of their time with us.

These are a few of the ingredients practiced on a regular basis at camp that make up the recipe for growth (one of our core values) which leads to success:

  • Persistence: getting back up on a horse after being spooked, practicing a cartwheel over and over until you land it
  • Failure: missing the target in archery or riflery, serving a tennis ball into the net
  • Sacrifice: letting someone else have a turn on the Big Banana, even though you really want to go (and it means you have to wait for another day) or offering to help with someone else’s cabin clean-up chore when yours has been completed
  • Disappointment: finding out that you were the only person in your cabin who didn’t get mail or that your favorite art project turned up missing
  • Discipline: coming to the barn before the official wake-up bell rings to feed the horses or doing your summer reading a little bit every day
  • Hard Work: paddling across the lake to the other side for an overnight canoe adventure, cleaning animal cages in Farm Zoo
  • Dedication: working on your lines for the play during rest hour or sailing different boats in varying wind conditions and with ever-changing crew experience
  • Grit: delaying gratification by working on an advanced level for multiple summers because more time to practice and develop skills is needed (I’m adding this one because I think this is a great word to describe the effort and determination shown to keep pushing through even though it is hard)

As parents, you have watched your daughter/s grow before your very eyes. Sometimes this comes in ways we can physically see (getting taller), while other times it is harder to pinpoint (having more confidence). It will be exciting to hear what transformations you notice when you reunite with your camper/s at the end of the summer after having been apart for several weeks or more. You can bet that for every “success” you do see, there was a whole lot of growth that occurred beneath the surface. The “tassel” of coming to the end of the camp season was definitely worth the “hassle”!

P.s. I’m on revision #27 for this blog!