Challenge by Choice
If you’re familiar with Lake Ann Camp at all you know we have challenge courses and high adventure elements. These are simulated life experiences that invite campers to step outside of their known boundaries and learn something new. We affectionately call it the “Grown Zone.” We know full well that for some it will be more of a “Groan Zone.”
Why do we stretch our campers in this way?
Our belief is that the goal of parenting is not to raise children but to raise another generation of adults. Adults who can be productive members of society while impacting their world for the cause of Christ.
We see the end result in experiences like one father relayed to me about his children. The story starts with his son’s trip to a huge high ropes course in Maryland. Siblings were invited to experience the course with their scout brothers. The father told me that the troop arrived and harnessed up. Some confident “eagle scouts” were tentative and freezing up while children confidently moved from one daring experience to the next. He was kind of shocked as his kids weren’t really the adventurous type by nature. And yet this day they took the challenges on by a storm. The dad said he asked his kids why they were confident. This is what they said: Dad, we did these kinds of things at Lake Ann Camp – they are awesome!
The dad couldn’t have been prouder of his kids knowing that they were prepared for the challenges of life because of their camp experience. One of the advantages a camp counselor has is that they do not know the history of a camper before they arrive. History such as risk aversion. In our system at Lake Ann Camp we seek to never force or shame a camper for not participating but we do offer the opportunity for them to step outside of their “comfort zone” so they can grow. Being in a new environment, with new friends, fosters a sense of adventure that spurs campers to try new things. Small wins breed bigger wins. In experiential learning the next step is to help the camper draw analogies to “real life” back home.
It is natural to protect your children; in fact, it is a God-given responsibility
The challenge comes when that protection hinders your child from branching out and trying new things that help them develop the life skills needed to eventually navigate adult life. As it has been said, our greatest strength can become our greatest weakness when it is out of balance.
This is where Lake Ann Camp shines. Campers learn healthy independence, they learn how to take measured risks, they learn the communication skills to build relationships with their peers and those steps of growth provide confidence to try new things in other arenas of life. The Lake Ann Camp staff does not take lightly the trust that parents place in us. Actually, your trust drives us to ensure that each challenge we offer be appropriate to the age level and beneficial as a step of growth for our campers. It is a win-win and we are thrilled to partner with our parents and churches to make these steps of life-changing growth possible.