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Camp Teaches Kids How to Fail

BY Tammy Fortune

November 12, 2019

A Wa-Klo parent recently sent me a NY Times article penned by Jessica Bennett entitled “On Campus, Failure is on the Syllabus”.  Bennett talked about the mental health struggles youth are experiencing and how it parallels that selective colleges have noticed a lack of coping skills in regards to failure.  These colleges are seeing such a strong trend that they now offer programs and courses as well as social media campaigns to introduce students to the idea of failure and how it is a part of the learning process. Basic life setbacks are crippling some students because they aren’t used to failing or not being the best or top at what they are doing.  This phenomena is also having an impact on what youth are trying to achieve. They rather not try than fail.

According to Bennett, the American College Health Association has seen an increase in depression and anxiety and overwhelming rates of stress. The article contributes the lack of resiliency in youth today to a few key factors – helicopter parents, everyone getting a trophy, college admission mania, pressure on first generation college students to not let their families down, and social media where everyone posts their achievements and all of the positive aspect of their lives without posting the downfalls or any negatives events. I’m guilty of this last part.  I don’t post pictures of my kids throwing tantrums or fighting with each other!

Now, one wouldn’t associate failure with time spent at Wa-Klo but we provide our girls with daily opportunities to fail. Imagine having eight to ten daughters living in a room with one bathroom! As you can imagine, there can be some upset through the four weeks but your daughters learn how to navigate having this many sisters. When Wa-Klo girls try new activities, they don’t always succeed the first time.  It could take a camper a few weeks to get up in waterskiing or hit a bullseye at archery.

Experiencing independence and learning self-advocacy skills can also be a bumpy road. But that is what they do here at Wa-Klo.  Our supportive and encouraging community embraces these life lessons. Our girls try new activities, make new friends, and have different experiences than they would at home.  All of this contributes to them building resiliency. Something that helps them navigate their path in life. This all reminds me of the Dr. Seuss Book “Oh, the Places You’ll Go”.  Dr. Seus writes “Wherever you go, you will top all the rest. Except when you don’t. Because, sometimes, you won’t. You’ll get mixed up, of course, as you already know…And remember that life’s a great balancing act. Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.” 

Wa-Klo is preparing you for the places you’ll go! We talk about camp being a multi-year experience and this is a prime example why.  I wish more girls had the opportunity to attend Camp Wa-Klo so we could help them build that resiliency and prepare them for the places they’ll go. Thank you families for allowing us to spend this time with your daughters and to help them build their confidence, independence, self-advocacy skills, and most importantly, resiliency.  We look forward to continuing this momentum in the summer of 2018!

I would like to leave you with one last thought. As Dr. Maurer reminds us every Family Weekend “the only thing more fleeting than summer is childhood.