Learning From Failure

Let’s face it. We all have to deal with disappointment and failure.  There will be moments when we make mistakes, have setbacks or simply fall short.  Though uncomfortable, we learn much more from failure than from success. When we learn to tolerate disappointment, we become stronger and better prepared to handle it the next time.  Failure is an excellent learning experience; it pushes us to try again. 

When it comes to our children, it can be very difficult (even scary) to take a step back and watch them struggle with disappointment and failure.  We want to see our kids succeed in everything they do, whether it’s getting good grades, making the soccer team, or simply having a close group of friends.  It’s only natural to want to protect them from feeling uncomfortable, but allowing them to do so is key in helping them grow.  When we try to fix a problem or intervene on their behalf, we rob them of the opportunity to develop a strong sense of self and become independent thinkers. By not allowing them to falter, we render them helpless, and send the message that we don’t believe they can do it.  Experiencing failure helps children learn about themselves and teaches them resilience.  

Kids who attend sleepaway camp develop resilience and experience great success from making mistakes.  Camp doesn’t rescue kids from discomfort, it supports and encourages them to take on healthy challenges and learn from their mistakes and disappointments.  Camp gives kids the opportunity to step outside of their comfort zone and try new things independently. Kids make choices, learn from their mistakes, and persevere to become more confident, capable and resilient.  The effort is all theirs and they own the result 100%.

There is nothing more inspiring than watching a camper who finds success by working through set-backs and never giving up.  Instead of feeling distraught over their mistakes, campers learn to take their disappointment and build their character to achieve their goals.  Think of the newfound confidence of the camper who overcomes homesickness; the camper who finally hits the target at archery after weeks of trying; the camper who’s able to waterski after faltering time and time again; or the camper who initially feels uncomfortable coming to camp without knowing anyone and creates meaningful friendships.   At camp, kids are encouraged to set goals, challenge themselves, and overcome failure, again and again.  We want kids to feel competent, independent, and know that disappointment is part of the journey to achieving great things. Campers see setbacks as an opportunity to say “I can deal with this.”

Over time, kids who experience disappointment build resilience and are more willing to approach difficult tasks and activities because they are not afraid to take on challenging situations.   Mistakes are a chance to learn and adapt to new and difficult situations throughout life. Making mistakes and learning from them gives our kids more self-confidence and resiliency than when we rescue them from failure.   Allowing kids to fail helps build character and creates opportunities for future success.  Don’t give up when failure occurs, use it to achieve great things.