Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Take a Deep Breath and Enjoy the Season

During these final hectic days and hours, when last minute shopping, cooking, and preparations for visiting guests are made—it is easy to get sucked into the future, into “what do I need to do next?”

We sometimes see that with our trip leaders in the summer, too. They are so focused on route-finding, safety, and mitigating the what-ifs of weather, blisters, slow hikers, the upcoming mountain climb, and monitoring the preparation of campers and staff—they forget to stop and breathe.

This is why we encourage a few moments each day of a trip—and even before and after every activity at camp—where the individuals as a group stop and share their goals for the trip/activity, their possible fears, their triumphs, their failures, their high points, their low points, and how they have grown (or think they may grow). Stretching together before a hike begins we can share our goals for the hike: “I want to set the pace today” “I don’t want to be at the back today” “I want to put up the rain fly myself” “I want to help cook dinner” “I want to enjoy the scenery and stop being so nervous about the climb” “I want to stop someplace beautiful and take a nap in the sun”—this helps remind the campers and the trip leader that they are ALL part of the experience, that—in fact—the hopes, fears, and goals they each bring to the trip make the experience that much richer for everyone.

Then, after a long day on the trail, in the saddle or on foot, they can share the insights the day provided them. “I saw a cloud that looked like a pig eating a chicken” “I really appreciated Jordan’s help when we were crossing the stream” “I didn’t think I was going to make it over the ridge, but I did—and that felt great” “This was the BEST dinner I have ever eaten—I usually HATE spaghetti!” “I liked how we stopped and just listened to the stream after lunch—it calmed me down” “Playing those hiking games was my favorite part of the day, I never even felt tired” By giving campers the space and time to reflect on their day, a trip leader sees how his/her planning, effort, coordination, and dedication pays off in real growth experiences for kids.

So this holiday season, make sure you take time to ask those sitting around your table what their favorite part of the day might have been, or have a story night when each member of the family shares a short story from their childhood (kids included!), or take time to light some special candles and share why you are grateful this holiday season, or just take an evening stroll around the block as a family to look at the holiday lights, stars, or just see the beginning of the crescent moon sparkling on the snow.

Happy Holidays!

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