The Discomfort of a Challenge
Many of us would agree that we like to be comfortable. When we are comfortable, we feel safe, restful, comfy, and relaxed. The word might evoke visions of snuggling under the covers at bedtime, sinking into a cushioned recliner, or entering a crowded room with a friend on each arm.
However, when we leave that comfort zone, that is when we are most likely to grow. A runner trains for a marathon by continually running more and more miles, building endurance by stretching the limits of what they thought their body was capable of. A mathematician improves their knowledge by constantly seeker harder and harder proofs and problems, forcing themselves to learn new concepts. To get better, to grow, to learn, we have to step out of what is comfortable and embrace the discomfort of a challenge.
Camp is the perfect setting for this. Simply unrolling your sleeping bag and preparing for a night away from home is the first step in preparing for a new challenge. As they try new foods, new activities, and meet new friends, the kids at camp are asked over and over again to step out of their comfort zones. However, they don’t do it alone. Camp is a place of support so that as they go, as they rise to the challenge, they have counselors and friends to walk with them and cheer them on along the way.
By learning to step out of their comfort zone when the setting is safe and the risk is low, kids will feel more equipped as they face adversity later in life. Not everything goes according to plan. Sometimes it rains when we needed sunshine. Sometimes the alarm doesn’t go off and we oversleep. Sometimes we find ourselves in situations of discrimination or exclusion. If we’ve never stepped outside of our comfort zone before, these challenges can feel insurmountable. However, when we, like the marathon runner, have the memory of all the miles and experiences and effort that have been given up until this point, we are more likely to believe in our own strength, capabilities, and value. We can embrace the discomfort of this challenge because we’ve already done it before.
So send them to camp. Let them experience the thrill of a mud slide or shooting an arrow or climbing through a cave that scared them. They’ll discover new skills, make new friends, and tackle new adventures. They’ll be uncomfortable sometimes. And they’ll be better for it.