Sometimes in life.. Ok, more times than not, the lessons we try to teach our kids end up being taught to us by them far more simply and poetically. The following was a note sent to Kidventure (my organization) by an insightful little girl following our 16th season of summer camp this year. It reads:
“I just wanted to tell all of y’all that made this camp possible that I came for the first time to this camp this year and I made some life long friends and love them to death. This was one of my all time favorite overnight camps ever. And I couldn’t thank y’all enough for what you have done for me. You taught me life lessons matched me up with great people, showed me how to have fun, even if at the moment my home life may be falling apart. You taught me that happiness doesn’t come from the things you have it comes from your heart and you choose how it’s going to affect you. I cried the night I came back from camp because it really put it into perspective of how amazing and how fun it really was. I love y’all your like the family I never had! Never change this program because it truly is perfect the way it is.”
I have to admit, when I read this I was really floored. Having run summer camps for 17 years, I’ve seen quite a few notes from kids and parents concerning the programs. Yet, I am still amazed to this day by the way kids sometimes are able to spell things out so clearly and with such innocent conviction. One sentence in the testimonial begs for our attention and illustrates the lesson among her words. She says, “You taught me that happiness doesn’t come from the things you have it comes from your heart and you choose how it’s going to affect you.” I don’t believe I could gather the words together to say it any more succinctly.
I believe as parents, we all-to-often train ourselves in believing that lessons about life, love and happiness derive from our paternal fortitude and are sprinkled about our kids in the attempt to grow them into adults who truly understand life, love and are happy. The plain truth is as parents, we’re still trying to figure that out too. What if we altered the paradigm and began sharing opportunities to consciously learn from our kids as much as we seek to teach them? I believe intentionally fostering this type of two way flow can only create better parents and likewise, better kids.