The Wait

July 28, 2014

Two things happened yesterday that showed me something new about camp. I think I already knew this thing, but now I get it, you know?

The first thing happened at the basketball court. The instructor, Ethan, made a deal with Keenan Jamison: make three baskets in a row, and I’ll buy you a soda. Soda is an excellent incentive here at Camp Tall Timbers: we counselors use it in desperate situations to get campers to clean the cabin, or if everybody’s super rowdy at night, we might say “First person in pajamas, teeth brushed, quietly reading gets a soda tomorrow”. It works like a charm. But this time, with Ethan and Keenan up at basketball, there was something else going on. Keenan really wanted that soda, but he also really wanted to make those shots. It meant something to him. It took half an hour, but he did it. The victory was worth more than the soda, I know that much for sure.

The other thing that happened was with Jami Siegal and climbing instructor Jackson up at the rock wall. It was only a few hours after Keenan made those shots. Jami was desperate to get up the wall: it’s a status thing, but also a personal growth thing. And she didn’t just want to get up the wall. She wanted to get up the hard side. And Jackson, excellent counselor that he was, resolved to wait with her as long as it took. Jami would make it up the wall, whether it took all class and all that Free Swim and all the next Free Swim too. She didn’t make it up yesterday. But this morning Jackson came over and patted her on the back and asked if she was ready to give it another go.  Jami will make it to the top of that wall.

So here’s what I’m figuring out. Being a camp counselor, or an instructor, or a teacher, is a lot about shutting up and waiting for the kids to discover their strength. I knew it already, like I said. I know that when I teach Challenge elements, it works best if I keep quiet, even though I know what they’re trying won’t work. If I let them fail, they learn something and try a better plan. It’s hard to keep quiet. It was hard for Jackson to give up his free swim to stand at the wall and coach Jami. It was hard for Ethan not to just tell Keenan, “Listen buddy, two in a row is pretty good, let’s go get that soda.” Working for something makes it that much better.

Other Tall Timbers Happenings

–                     Writing Class came up with a group story that is totally going to make everybody famous

–                     In Archery, Sasha Coates-Park hit a bullseye five times

–                     Emily Smith made it to the top of the wall twice

–                     Sebastian Fischbach won jailbreak twice in tennis

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