An article I read in Time Magazine this fall provided specific examples of how everything from current parenting trends, to standardized education, to the types of praise that are used, impact how today’s youth respond to life’s challenges and failures. What stood out to me the most was the fact that all of these things seem to have a stronger impact on girls. As I read the article I couldn’t help to think about the importance of a quality summer camp experience, well into the teen years, in the growth and development of today’s girls. I’ve learned that in today’s society it’s quite rare for a child to truly choose his or her own path- where as I had a voice in my extracurricular activities and academic studies. There were certainly structure and expectations, but I still had a voice.
This is where so much of the beauty of the Fernwood Cove experience lies- girls are able to follow their passions and try new things within our guided structure. With over sixty-five individual activity choices each week, each camper is able to create her own adventure. She is able to learn new skills and challenge her in ways that she may never have done. She’s able to do the things she loves…and maybe even find out there are lots of new activities that she really enjoys too. And when there are failures and challenges, because there will certainly be some, her fellow campers, and our CITs and staff, are there to help her regroup and try again. Sometimes it takes a lot of trying, but the moment she experiences success it makes it all worth it. The moment she clears the wake, or reaches the top of the High 5. Maybe it’s her first overnight camping experience, or the first summer she doesn’t experience homesickness. Whatever her successes are, they are that much more special because she got to do it because she wanted to, and she was supported every step of the way.
So as we continue the adventure of parenthood, try to remember the value of failure. Take a step back and remember that we don’t have to “rescue” our children every time, because one day they’ll be adults and we won’t be there to rescue them. Provide your girls (and boys) with the opportunity to try new things, even if they aren’t what you think is going to best prepare them. And be there to help them pick up the pieces when things fall apart. It’s these things that will help them gain the skills to be successful in life and they’ll also learn that you’re there for them through the ups and the downs. Together we can help each Fernwood Cove camper and CIT become the best version of herself- one who is passionate, resilient and confident in her abilities, and isn’t afraid of failure.