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Camp Philosophy

Every Choice is a Chance: The Power of Possibility

By Bryan Partridge

Each winter I spend disproportionate amounts of my free time pondering ideas to help shape the upcoming summer at camp. My goal is to create a vision for Lanakilans that fosters self-reflection and personal growth. Recently, I stumbled upon a truth that I believe has the potential to shape how we view the world, and even influence how we design our programs at camp.

But first, I need to make a confession – I’m a massive fan of Ted Lasso. I know that with its seemingly silly premise this TV show might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but beneath the quirky humor and absurd situations are constant nuggets of goodwill, changing perspectives, and an acknowledgment of the importance of mental health. I find the title character to be one who centers himself on seeing the best in everyone, steadfastly refusing to hold a grudge or seek revenge. And it got me thinking – how do we take a page from his playbook and apply it to the transformative environment of a summer camp?

I can’t pinpoint the episode or the context, but the phrase “Every Choice is a Chance” jumped out at me and has been circling my mind ever since. The phrase resonated deeply with me because I believe we explore a similar philosophy at camp.

Imagine the heart of July, where a child’s world transforms into a playground of endless opportunity, embracing the extraordinary within the simplicity of nature. From the morning bugle, campers are provided infinite choices, from the mundane to the thought-provoking. Do we aim for a high rank in archery? Feel ready for a three-day hiking trip? Tackle the ropes course despite a fear of heights? Sit in a rowboat and read our favorite book?

In a world filled with uncertainty and ambiguity, camp creates the conditions where the concept of choice provides the compass to figuring out how campers want to interact with the world. Within these choices lies the discovery of endless potential. Campers learn that every decision, big or small, is an opportunity to learn about themselves and their interests. It could be as simple as choosing to play basketball for the third day in a row or deciding to learn how build a fire and roast the perfect s’mores. It could be reframing a perspective of jumping in the lake on a rainy day, or trying a new food when plain noodles and butter are the daily preference at home.

The idea that “Every Choice is a Chance” isn’t just a path to self-discovery; it can lead to overcoming obstacles, learning invaluable life skills, and instill a deep sense of self-reliance and adaptability. At the end of each summer, campers leave with the knowledge that life is an endless succession of choices. “Every Choice is a Chance” means that life is also an endless string of opportunities. We encourage our campers to carry this wisdom with them, making choices that lead to a future filled with purpose, passion, boundless opportunities, and perhaps, on rare occasions, just a little bit of (good) TV.

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