canstockphoto1892138 Get outside and play.
At camp and school conferences, I talk a lot about leadership-by-example or LBE. I’m impressed and inspired by so many of the adults I meet: directors, deans, headmasters and youth leaders of all sorts who have devoted their lives to young people.
I have great respect for that vocational choice, so it’s with some trepidation that I offer the following observation: As a group, we’re not in great shape. Professionally, we strive for perfection, so we’re in decent cognitive shape. But physically, we seem not to be setting a sterling example for young people to follow.
Forget different body types and sizes. I’m talking about the need for more youth development professionals to get outside, elevate our heart rates a little (in a self-imposed manner, not as a result of some unreasonable parent) and breathe fresh air. Ditch the scale. Just get out, get moving and get breathing.
The tripartite blooms of electronic technology, liability lawsuits and complex standards have kept camp and school leaders inside more than they ever imagined. We are fettered by longer to-do lists than ever, fueled by mounting concerns that if we don’t prepare for every possible accident, we’ll cease to exist. Sadly, as our paperwork gets deeper, the opportunity to get outside and play drift farther away.
This weekend, commit to at least 90 minutes of doing what modern weekends are supposed to permit: stimulating, physical activity. In addition to whatever sleep and spiritual commitments you have, take some time to hike, to play with your kids in the backyard, to jog a few miles to the store. Heck, even walking the dog is decent exercise. And if you don’t have a dog, walk somebody else’s dog. Whatever. Just do it outside and do it with gusto.
If you’ve read this far, you’re not defensive … and you’re not thinking I sound like a vapid motivational speaker or jacked-up personal trainer. I’m neither. I just want us all to be a smidge healthier and set a better physical example for the young people we serve. So click over to your calendar right now and protect some weekend time outside.
Remember, camp’s secret sauce is a recipe with only four ingredients: Community living, away from home, in a natural outdoor setting, with a recreational premise. If we’re going to serve it up, we need to live it up first. This weekend, get back in touch with what you’re really doing in this business.
Dr. Christopher Thurber serves on the faculty of Phillips Exeter Academy, a coeducational boarding high school. He is the father of two boys and author of the best-selling Summer Camp Handbook. In 2007, Chris co-founded Expert Online Training .