Growing up

Raya Photo

Every year on Father’s day I make my annual pilgrimage down to Chicago. A bunch of staff and I hop into the van and talk as we drive from the Northwoods back into civilization.  The following morning we bring back our Chicago and Milwaukee campers on the bus. The bus ride is loads of fun as the campers are so excited to come to camp.

On today’s drive I got a phone call from my wife telling me that our daughter learned to ride a bike with no training wheels and was riding all over camp with a huge smile on her face.

This news made me incredibly happy and sad at the same time. I was overjoyed that she finally achieved her goal and at the same time sad that I wasn’t there to see it.   Of course this made me think of all of the parents who are getting ready to send their daughters to camp tomorrow and the mix of emotions that you must be feeling now.

As parents we are constantly dealing with the dual emotions of wanting to protect our children while simultaneously preparing them to eventually grow up and make their own decision and choices. I couldn’t help but see how serendipitous today’s moment was.  Here I am heading to pick up your children who are in for a summer of growth, new experiences and emotions, while at the same time going through the very emotions that you will shortly be experiencing.  Granted, your children may not all be learning to ride a bike at camp, but they will make new friends, gain mastery of new activities, and learn many life skills such as independence, conflict resolution and decision making.

You see, Raya and I practiced riding her bike before we moved up to camp this summer.  After one light crash we talked a lot about working hard and trying things that are new and difficult. When I spoke to my daughter tonight, I could feel the excitement in her voice when she told me about overcoming this challenge and mastering her new skill.   She was so happy that she had persevered and that her hard work had paid off. The success was hers, she earned it and I was so proud of what she had achieved.  I think it was actually better that I wasn’t there today- this was her moment, the result of her growth and persistence and that was the best fathers day present yet.

Perhaps what makes these moments so special to our children is that the successes are their own.  When they are able to tell us their story the moments become even better as they are able to re live them over and over again.

I am excited for the start of camp tomorrow and for the new adventures, growth and opportunities that await your children at camp.   I am even more excited for your daughter to share with you the stories of her successes at camp this summer.

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