A Part of Something Bigger
We are standing with our kids on the edge of unexplored territory. Much like the settlers heading West on the Oregon Trail, we have a cloudy idea of what we hope lies ahead, but for the most part, we are traveling blind. Technology has thrust us into new places, propelled us to new heights, and pitted us with new challenges. A shifting and uncertain world economy keeps us on our toes. Competition in academia and sports leave us wondering whether our children will even make the team. How do we keep them safe in a world where violence is becoming more publicized, more common, and more frightening? It is hard to know what new fad, movement, gadget, or app will be on the rise tomorrow, much less a year from now.
So here we stand, wondering how to walk our children through the cultural minefield before them and have them come out whole, happy, and contributing citizens on the other side. We just want to know that we are doing the best job we can and raise our kids to be creative, smart, selfless, kind, and honest in a culture that often promotes consumerism, deceit, and narcissism. So how do we do that?
There are a million answers out there—a host of self-help books, advice columns, and psychological studies. However, maybe the answer doesn’t have to be so complex. Maybe it’s as simple as allowing our children to see themselves as one part of a larger whole. While technology opens up a world of information, knowledge, and access, its use is often isolating. Kids who engage with other kids or are a member of a bigger group or movement start to view the world as a community member. Instead of approaching situations in terms of how they can benefit, they look with the eyes of someone who understands the bigger picture and the give and take of everyday life.
In a community, they find value. Not the kind of value that says, “You’re special no matter what you do; you’re deserving and always perfect.” Not the kind of value that swells their ego so that they see all others on a plane beneath them, unequal to them. Instead, they find the kind of value that comes from who they are, not what they own, not how many snap chats they get in an hour, not who they are dating, not what other people say about them. Their value comes from the way they contribute, the way they treat others, and the way they interact with the world around them.
It’s a simple concept. You are a part of something so much bigger than yourself. However, it’s a concept that inspires, teaches, and strengthens us. In light of that, find ways for your child and your family to plug in to a community. You could even come join us at Camp Wyoming for our community event, May Madness. Help us prepare the site for summer through painting, building, and cleaning projects. Participate in camp activities like archery, kayaking, and arts and crafts. Have some fun meeting our staff, taking a tour of the facilities, and, in the evening, joining the camp community for a live concert and dinner.
Parenting is hard. Raising our children to be happy, responsible adults is hard. However, when we tackle it together in community, we find the strength and support we need. And our kids do, too.