“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Last Friday I spent the day with our (9-12) students at Camp Ernst. We love this experience because it provides our students with opportunities to take risks and exercise courage.
Students played in creeks, practiced archery, went horseback riding, scaled climbing walls, and zipped down zip lines. Some comfortably moved from one activity to the next with confidence and enthusiasm. Others had to dig down deep to find the courage to try something new. Some watched and waited, thinking, “Next year. I’ll try that next year.” What I love about our TNSM community is that students support each other no matter what.
I witnessed one student climbing the zip line tower. He harnessed himself to a long metal cable that stretched out into the woods. After a series of safety checks, the child is supposed to yell “Zipping” to the staff operating the activity, and they reply “Zip on.” He took deep breaths. He looked long and hard, and then he decided to come back down. When he got back down to the bottom, he was met with high fives and “way to go” from fellow classmates. They understood what courage looks like. He understood what it felt like. His face bloomed into a smile.
Today I observed in the (3-6) program and imagined what these students will be like as 12-year-olds. Nine years from now, this 3-year-old I see working on her letter sounds will be reading books, asking big questions and expanding her world through taking risks, finding courage, trying something new, zip lining! It is simply astonishing to witness a child’s development from 3 to 12 – seeing how much they change and how much they stay the same.
As educators and parents, it is a courageous journey for us as well. We learn how to trust, let go, be vulnerable, guide. In a way, it at times feels like we are climbing a tall tower, attaching ourselves to a long metal cable that stretches out into an unseen future. “Zipping!”
“Zip on,” the Universe replies.
Enjoy the 2-minute video from our time at Camp Ernst!