Developing Grit at Summer Camp

Posted by john on November 11th, 2019

Having been lucky enough to work with kids as much as I have, I can say that most of the generalizations made about modern children are false. They are smarter more respectful than they are given credit for, they can be separated from electronics surprisingly easily, and aren’t as overly sensitive as some claim. Something I can’t disagree with, however, is that for whatever reason they seem to have less resolve. When something goes wrong, there is a lack of perseverance and willingness to step outside of their comfort-zone.
One of the magical things about camp is that it remains one of the last places where a kid can develop some grit. Grit is a difficult thing to define, but it’s impossible to miss when you see it. Grit is not just a way to describe a cowboy in the old west, and it is more than just falling off your bike, dusting off your knees, and hopping back on. Grit is being honest with someone even when it hurts. Grit is speaking in public on weak knees. Grit is the ability to overcome. Overnight summer camps are the perfect environment for this to emerge in someone because it provides so many safe and healthy opportunities to overcome our fears.
A lot of children share a basic and understandable fear of the unknown. Whether it’s sailing, starting a fire or going on an overnight camping trip, there are so many activities a kid will try at camp for the first time. There is a good chance they won’t be good at everything, and that’s ok. At Swift Nature Camp, we aren’t afraid to let our kids fail, because it builds resilience and teaches us three very important things about what happens when life knocks us down. First, we learn that we must find the courage to get back up and try again. Second, we learn that if we have friends and loved ones there to encourage us, conquering our fears becomes a little more feasible. And third, we no longer see failure as the end, but as a steppingstone to accomplishment.
In a world that is changing and growing at a faster and faster rate, having the grit to throw yourself into uncomfortable situations and come out on top is a more useful thing than ever. It eases my mind knowing we can offer this to the children of today and of the future.
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Joined: November 11th, 2019
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