2019 Lanakila Community Vision Statement
by Lanakila Staff 

Building Belonging

Generations of campers and counselors have come to think of Lanakila as a second home, as a place where they truly belong. That is no accident. We believe a feeling of profound belonging is the most powerful ingredient in the “magic” of Lanakila. Boys flourish here because they know that they belong, they trust that they’ll be known and loved for who they are, and they receive empathic, thoughtful support as they work towards becoming fine people.

But we want Lanakilans to do more than crave that feeling of belonging. We want them to carry it with them even when they leave Fairlee. So we seek to equip campers with a portable set of skills, strategies, and values that will allow them to experience, in any environment, what a sense of belonging accomplishes at camp.

 We shape our program and culture to build belonging by…

…embodying our belief that there are many ways to be a man. We give boys a diverse array of role models – men and women in whom campers can see aspects of the selves they seek to develop. When the people around us model the same humility, humor, talent, and compassion that we seek to develop in ourselves, they help us to recognize the sturdy roots of those same virtues within us. In such moments, we know that we are in a place we belong.

…focusing on what is personal, real, and lasting. Too often, children learn to gauge belonging through external signals: the music they listen to; the brands they wear; the devices they own. The result can be toxic, especially for boys, who learn to measure themselves against dangerously narrow standards of masculinity. By embracing simplicity—in the uniforms we wear, the music we make, the technology we leave at home—we foster deeper connections with each other and even with ourselves.

…instilling a reverence for the majesty of nature.  So often the noise of our daily lives can drown out our thoughts and diminish our sense of self.  At camp we learn that the natural world, never far from reach, can help us recover our connection to a universe greater than what we readily see, and we are reminded that rather than the world belonging to us, we belong to it.

…placing choice at the heart of the camp experience. Lanakilans have a schedule wide-open to pursue their interests, learn new things, tackle challenges, and have fun. Away from camp, children seldom feel empowered to direct the course of their days. Here, we coach and counsel campers about how to express themselves, how to negotiate their options, and how to search within themselves for answers to their challenges. More deeply, we understand that our emotions, and even our sense of belonging itself, rest in thoughts, attitudes, and perceptions that we have the choice to shape. With such agency and empowerment, Lanakilans go forth with skills and outlooks that help us belong anywhere, not just at camp.

…ensuring campers know they have a place in the community, just by virtue of being themselves. When kids arrive at camp, they immediately discover they are already members of interlocking communities that wouldn’t be complete without them. At Lanakila, there are no preconditions to belonging – boys here, at any point in their development, are taught that they are enough. These immediate experiences of belonging—to a tent or cabin family, a residential unit, a table in the dining room—begin to instill a grander sense of belonging: to the camp and the larger Aloha family; to a past whose history they hear and whose traditions they come to know; and even to a future whose faithful stewards we hope to be.

…emphasizing honesty as the most direct path towards a life of substance and meaning. Ultimately, belonging is not an external validation, but an authentic way of being. Honesty – and its companion, vulnerability – are signs of strength and signals of openness. Honesty elevates relationships beyond the superficial, and invites us towards friendships in which we have the courage to be imperfect and the compassion to accept ourselves anyway. At Lanakila, as in life, there is no more powerful belonging than to each other.

The power of profound experiences of belonging rests in the freedom and relief that comes when we feel safe, worthwhile, and loved. When we feel we belong, we cease to measure ourselves against others. Instead, we focus on being the people our highest values and deepest aspirations call us to be. At Lanakila, we belong to something more than a summer camp; every Lanakilan belongs to a tradition, a spirit, and countless relationships that can serve as sources of strength, resilience, resolve and delight on the road ahead.

copyright 2019 Aloha Foundation