As we ease into week two here at camp, some neat things are happening.
At the end of last week, one of our younger boys cabins was experiencing some head knocking, otherwise known as conflict. This is not all uncommon, especially for ten six, seven, and eight year-olds, some of which are having to share a bathroom for the first time.
After sitting and talking with nearly the entire cabin, here is what I observed. One child was homesick. It was his first time away and as week one finished up he was getting tired. Another boy, who is super competitive and never runs out of energy, was steadily annoying the rest of the group. Two other boy campers in the cabin were beginning to take the role of peacemakers, but it was getting awfully hard to keep the peace in this cabin. These boys were getting tired, physically and with each other. How could this turn out positive?
Here is what was happening behind the scenes. Cabin counselors were fully engaged, not only monitoring the boys but also trying to find those teachable moments amongst the chaos. Counselors and our full-time staff were directly handling the homesickness. The conversations were going like this: it’s okay to feel homesick, it’s normal, let me tell you about when I was homesick at 8 years old, when is it that you feel most homesick?, how can I help?, you can do this, I’m here to help, I’m proud of you.
Fast forward to today— Tuesday of week two. The same cabin seems to be a different bunch. On flagpole hill I literally just asked them, “How is it going? How are y’all getting along?” They answer, “We are getting along a lot better and not fighting much at all.” Then I prod by saying, “Why do you think you’re fighting less?” Camper number one says, “We know each other a lot better now.” Small camper follows up by saying, “And…we also know what annoys each other.” A big grin comes across my face as I am witnessing true growth in this young group of boys.
What happened between Friday and Tuesday? Camp happened. But what exactly happened? What I am about to share is probably a bigger life lesson for us adults than our children. The cool thing about camp is that it allows children to experience what I call the forming, storming, norming, and transforming facets of relationship. Week one this cabin of boys was forming, getting the hang of who and what cabin mates were like. By Friday, the boys were in full storming mode. There was nowhere to run or hide. There was no option to move, so they were faced with one alternative— engage all the not so fun parts of living with 9 other souls. By Tuesday of week two, the boys have now settled into the norming phase, and the fighting has decreased because they know what annoys the others and know how to better respond. And my hope is that by Friday of this week, they will have entered into the transforming stage. This stage is usually marked by that gut feeling that you do not want to leave your friends. Tears follow. It’s the Huawni Magic. This, among other reasons, is why I usually always recommend two weeks of camp. Campers have the time and space to get to the magic (i.e. knowing their true selves and experiencing the true selves of others).
At camp we like to say life is meaningful relationships. What I continue to learn this week, through a rag tag group of boys, is that in order to reach intimacy within friendship, you have to push through the storming phase. Think about how many times we choose not to do this in life? We quit a job because the people are annoying. We cut ties with a long time friend because they are human and made a mistake that hurt us. The sad part is, when we do not persevere through conflict, we miss experiencing the best part of life— meaningful, authentic, deep relationships. In the words of my good friend and mentor Chris White, conflict is good if we choose it to be.
I am grateful to have been reminded of this life lesson by our campers and your children. I am certain they have a lot more to teach me. I hope I will continue to be open to learning from them.
Last night we hosted the famous, famous, MOST FAMOUS Miss Huawni Pageant. Unlike a lot of typical beauty pageants, this pageant really does lift up the inner Huawni Girl and their character. Congratulations to Camille M. for being crowned 2016 Miss Huawni Session 2!
Today campers are at regular activities and it’s our last day to compete on an individual level at a handful of activities. Tonight we will ramp up for Round 2 of the Wiffleball World Series. Tejas and Caddo both have 1 win a piece, so tonight’s games are big.