Summer Camp and Resilience

Summer camp has got to be the best place to develop soft skills in today’s world. Where else are you disconnected from social media for such an extended period of time? Where else do you have a chance to problem solve for yourself in such a supportive environment? Where else can you share your whole self with others without the distractions of the larger world? This thinking has prompted me to decide that summer camp is now more a necessity for children than ever, and most specifically for young girls.

We have had a tremendous session. Our administrative team and our staff have out done themselves this summer. I have never seen a stronger group of leaders in my 35 summers. It has truly been a privilege to work along side these women to deliver a great experience for our girls, and we have six more weeks to work together for a great year! The love and care for one another is palpable, and the campers have thrived in this environment. If anything this is a tribute to the resilience of Keystone Camp. As I have said before, it is the relationships that define us and our shared experiences that make Keystone the special community it is.

As a mom, resilience is the most important skill I have worked to develop in my children. I became very aware of my own resilience as an adult, and I realized its importance in my life. In reflection, I have tried to understand how I developed resilience, and my camp experience certainly played a role. It is not a genetic trait, but one that is developed through experiences. Knowing that we are capable of solving our own problems is perhaps the most empowering self-knowledge we can possess. It allows us to assume control of our ourselves and our reactions to situations. Resilience can be a key take away from camp, and we have seen so many examples of resilience this session. Obviously, working through homesickness is one way to realize resilience within yourself. We have several girls of whom we are so proud for how they came through their struggles with homesickness. Once you learn you can conquer homesickness, many of the other challenges life throws at you can be seen as problems you are capable of solving. As we teach the girls with homesickness, it is one step at a time, one day at a time, and before you know it, you are on your way running forward through three whole weeks. You can do it.

We also had a camper suffer a pretty significant broken arm the first Friday of the session. Not only did this child show resilience, but she is my new definition of fortitude! The fracture required surgery, yet she was back at camp the next day, back in her cabin the day after, and just two days ago, she performed in several dances during the dance recital.

Failure also contributes to the development of resilience, and you see that play out in the camp activities. Many of the activities we are offer are new to our girls. They are working to develop skills in an area they have never before experienced. The girls must learn to be okay with failure. It is that old adage, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.” The counselors are alongside the girls to encourage persistence. It may take several days or even an entire session, but the new skills are mastered. It may be climbing to the top of the rock wall for the first time, or as we saw in our new kayaking program, learning to roll. Resilience is not succumbing to doubts and insecurities.

Resilience allows us to continue forward through life. We acknowledge set backs and disappointments, sometimes even total gut punches that knock us flat, but by knowing that we can rely on ourselves through our resilience, we take that first small step in a positive direction. Eleanor Roosevelt is one of my personal heroes, and I share with you a quote that I keep close: “We do not have to become heroes overnight - just a step at a time, meeting each thing that comes up, seeing it not as dreadful as it appears, discovering that we have the strength to stare it down. The thing always to remember is that you must do the thing you think you cannot do.”

We thank you for this chance to share your daughters with you. There is no greater privilege than watching our girls grow both physically and emotionally into strong young women.

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