By: Patrick Mazuca
At the start of every new year, thousands of people around the world elect to alter themselves for the better. Whether it’s making a change in daily habits, conquering some major feat, or simply committing to some greater cause, tons of people try but only a few succeed.
When it comes to achieving goals, experts say that the best way to make a dream a reality is to write them down on a piece of paper and post it somewhere they can be seen everyday. However, I on the other hand, come from a different school of thought. Because of my experience with USC Troy Camp, I have found that the best way to work towards a goal, is to yell it for all to hear.
On the fourth day of camp in the San Bernardino mountains, Troy Camp leads its 3rd, 4th and 5th graders to the top of our mountains peak where we encourage our campers to yell their dreams, aspirations and goals at the top of their lungs. All day long, the mountain canyon echoes with high pitched hollers and hoots exclaiming dreams of becoming a famous architect, changing communities, or helping sick children around the world. Troy Camp then fosters the characteristics campers need to turn their dreams into goals and goals into realities.
And Troy Camp isn’t the only camp that does this.
Children are naturally great goal-setters. Like the kids of Troy Camp, most children just call their goals, dreams. Counselors and Directors know that summer camp can provide kids with the perfect “tool box” for the rest of their life. Every camp challenges children to try new things. Whether it is a new skill like archery or dance, or simply making new friends, it is these new experiences that provide children with some of life’s most important tools.
Climbing a rock wall teaches children to overcome fears and can give a camper a confidence tool for the future. Learning to canoe on a serene lake can teach a camper the importance of reflection and contemplation, giving campers self-reflective tools for coming years. And arts and crafts develops a child’s creativity tool, ensuring a child’s “tool box” will always be used in new and unique ways. The list goes on and on, and the potential of the “tool box” that can be built is only limited by the days left of summer.
Live a healthier lifestyle, become more spiritual, and spend more time outside are all at the top of my mind as this new year begins. But, like thousands of people, maybe I am going about this change in the wrong way. Instead of eating pounds of kale and investing in a new pair of running shoes, maybe I need to focus of the positive “tools” I have up my sleeve that I have already perfected. Maybe I need to remember the confidence I learned from climbing the rock wall. Maybe I need to spend more time reflecting like I learned during my paddling lessons on the serene lake. Maybe I need to think more creatively and do more with my hands. Most importantly, maybe like thousands of children (and parents alike), I just need a little more camp in my life.