Camp and Self Reliance

As parents we always want the best for our kids.  As a camp director and parent, I too feel that way about my children and the campers we have here each day.  While we never want to admit it, our own children’s successes allow us to add little ribbons to our “parenting scrapbook.” We base our ability to parent on our child’s achievements.  It is impossible not to feel this way, at least a little.

Failure is just as important as success.  I think for me, as a parent, failure is hard to handle because we cannot see the how this is going to end.  What if this is the beginning of continued failure? What if my boy can’t pick himself up?  I have to remember that small amounts of physical and emotional “discomfort” are successes as well.  Wendy Mogel did a great job of explaining this several years back in her book “Blessing of a Skinned Knee.”  I find that this is very important for boys, not only emotionally, but physically as well.  First, boys need to find their way, small moments to “conquer” their world -so to speak. So, from time to time they have to fail as they become themselves.  Secondly, I personally feel like small physical injuries in boys keeps them alive.  As boys, it is hard for our mothers to understand that we (all boys) are invincible.  If we don’t experience those “skinned knees,” we may just jump off a cliff thinking we can fly!  I enjoy seeing boys fail at camp as much as I seeing them succeed.

We cannot “make” our kids happy, nor is that why we are parents.  Holy cow that sure is easy to say, but hard to do.  As a parent, I still find it difficult when my children are injured, or upset.   But I sure do like to see them get up, dust themselves off, and keep going.  The only way they can do that is to PRACTICE. They have to practice falling down, so they can learn to get up.  This is how they become self-reliant.

Here are a few helpful links to read over.  High Rocks has applied several of these principles in our programs and staff training. I hope they are helpful for you too.

Have a great weekend,


Avoiding the Overparenting Trap

How to Raise and Adult -Julie Lythcott-Haims

The Gifts of Failure -Jessica Lahey

Understanding and Raising Boys

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