My 3-year-old daughters have happily (and not so happily) schlepped to their older siblings’ sporting events, plays, award ceremonies, piano recitals, class picnics, sleepovers, birthday parties and on and on since birth.
And, while all this activity has turned them into worldly little girls (and social dynamos), it has also meant that they’ve had to sacrifice some of their play time for travel time.
So, when the opportunity arose to take them to Memphis Kiddie Park–an amusement park where children must be less than 50 inches for most rides–my wife jumped at the chance.
I was pleasantly surprised to see my older kids, the ones who had just returned from Cedar Point–where the height requirement is the exact opposite–quickly volunteer to help out.
From the moment the decision was made, the older kids worked to build the excitement, which reached a fever pitch the day of the visit.
As I left for work that day, one of the girls tugged at my shorts and talked excitedly about what they were going to do and how her older brothers and sisters couldn’t go on the rides. She was giddy with excitement–though I was pretty convinced she had no idea what she was talking about.
As expected, the day was a success, but like that first Christmas you experience as a parent, it was a bigger gift to the older kids. They were flushed with excitement telling me about the girls’ reactions to this ride and that ride.
It struck me that camp is quite the same way.
Often, camp is the place where kids who are always on the go can change pace. Camp can be their opportunity not to compete, not to take on a leading role and to help somebody else step into the limelight. Or, they can still take on a leadership role, but with a better understanding of all the folks who are helping them lead.
Silvana Clark touches on just this topic in her article “Solely Responsible” on page 28, which offers tips on running a successful camp through the lens of modern shoe marketing (trust me, it will make sense when you read it).
Clark tells how a counselor ran through dress rehearsal for skit night twice—once with props and sound effects and once without. After the second run through, she brought out the campers responsible for all the stuff that actually made the star of the show look good–and gave them a big round of applause. What a neat concept.
But then, that’s the kind of thing that happened at camps all over the country this summer. And, like my older kids, it’s the kind of thing that drives home the power of giving and sharing–kind of like that first Christmas as a parent–powerful, powerful stuff.
Till next month…
Rodney J. Auth