It may be my imagination but, at times, I feel many of us feel that we are far too often dealing with unfriendly spaces or feeling threatened. We may feel physically, emotionally, or even economically threatened. Regardless, the feelings are the same — discomfort or fear. How can we be better people, a stronger family or community, or a healthy country, if we feel unsafe?
I believe the camp experience allows young people to learn and practice civility — which might be one of the most important attributes in this decade.
I am not saying we should be passive or easily pushed around to avoid conflict; rather, what are the skills we can possess and teach others that will facilitate healthy, constructive, and safe discourse?
Well, I don’t believe the answer is rocket science. Frankly, what comes to mind are the lessons my grandmother taught me. Or more recent, the lessons I have observed being taught at camp.
- Be polite. Say “thank you,” “please,” and “I am sorry.”
- Lower your voice if you want me to hear you.
- Stop whining or begging — it is unattractive.
- If you don’t like her, she probably doesn’t like you. (Ouch, I remember that stinging.)
- Be fair. No manipulating to get your way — again, it is unattractive.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff or fight over petty issues.
- No one will change until you change.
- A smile wins more than a frown.
- You are not as important as you might think.
- Don’t become your own problem.
The wisdom in some of my grandmother’s quips was not always immediately apparent to me, but over time, when I have found myself worked up or hurt, they have provided great counsel. I believe the lessons camp professionals teach may not always be immediately apparent, but I will bet money they will help us secure a more civil world.
Photo courtesy of Camp Aranzazu, Rockport, Texas.