When was the last time you took a chance? When you went for something you really wanted, even though you felt vulnerable and scared, and weren’t sure you could succeed? For many of us, taking chances is difficult. It brings up feelings of insecurity, fear, and possible embarrassment. But for those who are willing to go for it anyway, the rewards are well worth the risk. Taking chances helps us gain confidence, overcome and manage fear, deal with setbacks, and develop responsibility and perseverance.
One group of individuals, who consistently demonstrates the grit to take healthy risks and challenge themselves, are CAMPERS. Kids who attend sleepaway camp are exceptional at trying new things and finding success they never thought possible. Campers put themselves out there and trust in the process. They may make mistakes or fail to immediately accomplish what they set out to do, but they continue to try again and again until they achieve their goals. Camp is packed with opportunities for kids to try new things in a safe and supportive environment that encourages them to step outside of their comfort zone. Campers take chances on everything, from making new friends, to participating in their first camp play, to making it to the top of the climbing wall. Campers know they will be supported and valued no matter the outcome. They learn and understand the importance of never giving up.
Parents are often amazed at their camper who returns home with newfound confidence, independence and perseverance. They describe a child who left for camp feeling unsure about being away from home, concerned about making new friends, and nervous about activities they have never tried before. And they welcome home a camper who made lifelong friends, tried out for teams they were not previously interested in, performed on stage or rode a horse for the first time, and mastered waterskiing. Parents hear the amazing stories of camp life, and understand how everyday challenges allow campers to develop the skills to persevere and meet their goals.
According to Nancy Eppler-Wolff, a clinical psychologist, “Risk taking is essential for development. When children learn how to take thoughtful risks, they also learn how to think independently. Through the development of thoughtful risk taking, children will be better equipped to leap at life’s opportunities and to rebound from life’s disappointments”.
Some of the best moments at camp are witnessing campers engaging in healthy risk taking, challenging themselves, trying new things, gaining confidence, developing independence, coping with setbacks, and celebrating their accomplishments. At camp, and throughout the year, never stop trying! Take your fears and doubts, gather your courage, and take a chance. You never know until you try. No matter the outcome, you will be happy you did.