With the first week of January behind us, we are all settling into a new year with ambitions and a peaceful, quiet month to work on them. In my house, we are working on a goal of reading more in 2022. We’ve set up a system to help us reach this goal – using the GoodReads app to track our reading, utilizing our library cards and the Libby app to get access to more books, and checking in with friends with similar goals. It has me thinking about how much I value my identity as a lifelong learner – a quality fostered by camp – someone open to new goals, learning new things, and always working on a growth mindset.
One of my favorite books, Mindset by Carol Dweck, delves deep into fixed vs. growth mindsets. A fixed mindset makes us believe that our talents and abilities are “carved in stone” – we only have a certain amount of intelligence, ability, a certain personality. But the growth mindset tells us that our efforts, passions, and help from others overtake our natural abilities. Dr. Dweck’s research shows us that while we can always retrain ourselves, our mindset is often formed very early in our lives. The people, the ideas, and the opportunities we surround ourselves with can make or break this mindset.
This is where camp comes in! Camp provides the opportunity to continually challenge ourselves – campers and staff alike – to try new things, build our skills, and learn from new perspectives. Our campers understand the value and thrill (and, in all honesty, nervousness) of trying something brand new, and the bravery of attempting the next level. Many of our activities at Runoia feature levels that encourage our campers to build skills and aspire to the highest achievement – maybe American archer, windsurfing queen, or advanced equestrian. Campers who return year after year often spend each summer building toward these goals with the help of a growth mindset, some serious tenacity, and an awesome support system.
Camp challenges our staff members – from first-year counselors to admin who have been here for decades – to grow, as well. What a challenge it was for me to show up to camp in June of 2018 not knowing a soul – and for our international counselors, add on the bravery of navigating a new country!
Our campers and staff benefit from this mindset even after passing through Runoia’s gates – back to the ‘real world’ – at summer’s end. One of our stellar staff members, Mackenzie, talked to me about learning to ski as an adult – something I’ve also been tackling in the past year. So excited to learn, she started slow “with pizza skis and falls every few hundred feet.” But a growth mindset tells Mackenzie that even after hard falls, she has the ability to learn and grow: “After big wipeouts that knocked the wind out of me I’d sit and catch my breath wishing I learned at the age of 3 like it seemed everyone else on the mountain had. After studying the way others moved, advice from friends who ski, and a beginners lesson, I learned new skills one at a time.” Mackenzie closed out our conversation with some serious growth-mindset attitude: “I continue to learn one step at a time and remind myself of the privilege it is to ski regardless of starting age. Now I know that there is truly no ‘mastering’ a skill because it can always get better from there.”
Here’s to new things, more books, and growth in 2022.