Lessons Learned at Camp

There are many things to be learned at camp and there are many ways that attending camp benefits and impacts children. Read below "5 Lessons Future Entrepreneurs Can Learn at Summer Camp".

Our hope is that when girls leave Tapawingo they have been impacted in these ways. They have learned independence and how to take responsibility for their actions. They have been challenged and pushed out of their comfort zone. They have learned biblical values and expectations. They have been able to practice leadership, and they have been spending time working and building relationships. Most importantly though, our hope is that girls leave Tapawingo with a deeper relationship with Jesus and a desire to continue growing the rest of the year.

"Friends from outside New England sometimes look shocked when I tell them my three kids are spending the summer at a sleepaway camp in the Maine woods. “You send your kids away for seven weeks? Don’t you like them?”

For those without this tradition, I suppose it seems odd to send children as young as 8 years old away from home for weeks at a time -- but I can tell you that they are excited to go and usually sad to come home.

There are many practical benefits to camp that my wife and I have seen firsthand. Our children have gained leadership skills and independence at camp. They’ve learned self-advocacy and become more responsible. In fact, they’ve learned many of the same skills that entrepreneurs and emerging leaders need to be successful. Here are a few of the most important.

1. Take responsibility for your actions.

Children at sleepaway camp don’t have their parents around to pick up the slack or whisper constant reminders in their ears, so when kids forget to put on sunscreen, they get burned. If they forget their cleats, they don’t play soccer. These are critical life lessons.

Pain is a powerful teacher, as I’ve seen with my middle son. He started getting migraines for the first time this year, and we were worried about how he would manage them at camp. After his first migraine there, however, he stepped up and internalized what his body needs. He has since been very responsible about avoiding his headache triggers and has had fewer migraines as a result.

Like kids at camp, entrepreneurs have to learn how important it is to acknowledge reality and take responsibility for our actions, for better and worse. Doing so sets the tone for a company culture where failure is embraced for what it is -- a lesson learned.

2. Get out of your comfort zone.

Summer camp encourages kids to try new things in a safe environment, one full of support from peers and counselors. Kids regularly get out of their comfort zones, something that is good for everyone.

Founders should strive to create a similar environment -- one where people take on new challenges and work to become their best selves.

The first year my daughter arrived at camp, she was afraid of the water. She was so nervous about even taking the basic swim test that her mother and I half expected her to too fail. But, when she had to step up to the expectations set at camp, she surprised even herself. By the end of the first week, she chose to complete the half-mile lake swim. A few weeks later, she got up on water skis. This rate of accomplishment would be the envy of any startup founder.

Entrepreneurs can learn a lot from this model. Creating a business culture that that encourages risk-taking in a supportive environment -- through mentoring and coaching, for example -- can really pay off.

3. Focus on values and expectations.  

It’s impossible to make every decision for a growing business, yet entrepreneurs have a tendency to micromanage. That’s not a scalable model. Instead, set teams up for success by giving them goals, establishing guidelines for action and letting go. This is another lesson from camp.

Before my kids left for Maine this year, my wife and I talked to them about our family’s core values and gave them some tips for how they could live them at camp. It was all we could do, because we were not going to be there to provide course corrections and daily instruction. We simply had