Last Sunday I rode over 60 miles on my bike in about three and a half hours. Prior to that the farthest I had pedaled was about 43 miles. A week prior to that it had been 35 miles. To make the leap in mileage I have had to push myself, to explore new heights of possibility both physical and psychological. I am glad I have done it and plan to continue (hope to complete a 100 mile ride in June), and I think the lesson I am learning and the example I am setting for the boys is important.
This Summer we have decided to provide a special experience for the boys. I plan to discuss more on the next podcast but in short, we are skipping the daycare Summer program and sending them to camp. Not for a week, not for two, for the whole Summer. Various camps with various areas of focus but all camp all Summer. I am wishing I could skip work to join in.
As part of the Summer of 2011 Camp Extravaganza, we looked at an overnight camp, one lasting a week long about an hour away from home. Our nephews had gone to the camp a year or two ago and enjoyed it, but they were a bit older than our boys at the time (and still are, but you get what I am saying). We figured our youngest, the wild man, would be fine with it but that our oldest would take some convincing. When we described the situation, much to our surprise, we had it backwards.
My youngest (8 yrs old) was not going for the idea of an overnight camp for the week. We weren’t sure if he was afraid to be away from home or just not interested but either way, he said in very succinct and sincere terms that he was not interested in going. Jen and I looked at each other as if to say “Now what?”. We had already lined up every week of the Summer with a camp or vacation and had lined up a nanny for taking the boys to and from sessions as well as hang with them during down time. We had no plan for an opt out.
So, we pushed. We tried to get out of him the reason for his hesitation. He didn’t reveal anything so we went the route of telling him what the camp had to offer. This eventually broke him down enough to agree to attend an open house. Luckily the open house lined up with an afternoon we had open on our schedule. We took the boys and they both loved the facility, the promise of all the activities and even liked the cabins where they will stay (which might be hot come Summer without A/C but were fine on a drizzly April afternoon).
The point is that we didn’t stop with the idea on first, second or third reproach. We kept on him, we pushed him for a reason why he didn’t want to go that might validate a major shift in our plans. We pushed him to look at what the opportunity had to offer and not just reject it blindly. We pushed him to consider it with a more open mind and eventually, we pushed him into going to camp.
Obviously pushing our kids into things is not appropriate for everything, although we probably see it far too often. Kids being pushed into sports or music or academically (which doesn’t seem bad but I am sure we have all seen any of these go too far). But if they need a little encouragement or push to realize that they might just enjoy something or appreciate the experience once they try it, then I am all for the push (or even a shove at times). How many things we can think back to that we enjoyed much more than we thought we would before we tried it? It is those pushes that we are later thankful for because they pushed us to realize an opportunity and to do something outside of our comfort zone.
I will be sure to follow up with the outcome of the overnight camp. One of the reasons we wanted them both to go is so they have each other to lean on if they need help. This was evidenced in their question during the open house if they could bunk together. I am fully expecting my youngest to help his older brother get through the week as much as my oldest will help him. But together they should make it and have a ton of fun, again, I wish I could go. But perhaps that week I can log another long bike ride to have a “push” story to share with them when they get back (after they spend a couple of weeks telling us how much they enjoyed camp!).