August 17, 2017


Camp is winding up. I say winding up instead of winding down, as things here do not slow down as we end. In fact it is just the opposite. The last few days of camp are a buzz of activity. It is in these days that the achievements of our campers really come to light.

Every free moment is filled with tests for the high-class awards that are the pinnacle of our awards system. We see campers focusing with rapt attention on hitting those tennis serves, getting to the top of a hard climb on the wall, playing an expert level guitar solo and any other number of challenging tasks.

These tests showcase so much. First, everyone comes to watch! People from all over camp come to see the achievements of others. It is not about being better then someone else but seeing someone achieve personally. People are there to support their friends whether they pass the test or fail. Second, the skills that are demonstrated! It is unbelievable what young people can achieve with some focus and good instruction. The requirements for any of our high-class awards are all tough. When someone is at the level of getting tested for these awards they are already an expert at that activity. Seeing so many young experts is a testament to the abilities of our community, both at learning and teaching. Finally, we see the reactions from everyone at the end of the test regardless of the outcome. Everyone has a different reaction and I’m sure a different feeling after the tests . The camper being tested if they pass will feel immense happiness that the thing they have been striving for has finally been achieved, if they don’t pass there is of course sadness but the community rallies around them, it supports them, it gives them the love and affirmation they need and the sadness can turn to learning. Learning about the struggles of life and how it might not always go your way but there is benefit from that and still just trying is valuable.

The interesting reactions do not just come from the campers but also from the instructors of the activity, the person who runs the test. It is not uncommon for the instructors to be moved to tears following the completion of the award. The pride they feel for the young people they have been working with is profound. To put so much time and energy into someone else’s growth has an amazing effect on the growth of the instructors. They learn the power of helping others achieve and it is an amazing thing to watch. I feel lucky every test I get to supervise as I can see all parties learning and growing and that is a beautiful thing.

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