The word “grit” is defined as an “indomitable spirit” and “perseverance and passion for long term goals.” It’s a quality that many experts agree is a determining factor in a child’s success later in life…not intelligence or athletic ability or wealth…but grit. One of the most important characteristics for kids to develop as they grow up is this willingness to persevere no matter how many times they fail. And they will fail. We all do. Sometimes it feels like we fail many times a day. But none of us truly fail if we are willing to try again. We all make mistakes. It’s what we do with those mistakes that define who we become. What can we learn from our mistakes to help us make better decisions next time?
Grit is a quality that is not often taught in schools. Schools these days are increasingly emphasizing test scores and the number of extra-curricular activities that kids participate in. Emphasis is on achievement or perfection or athletic prowess. So how do we teach our kids to have grit?
At Deerhorn, our emphasis is on improvement, not on being the best. And nowhere in camp will you see more examples of grit than in skiing class. Kids start out kneeboarding, and progress to two skis or wakeboarding, then slaloming on one ski. It’s scary to try to ski for the first time. Believe me, I speak from experience as someone who learned how to waterski at camp when I was a counselor. You try to get up over and over again…and over and over you fall on your face. But you continue to get back up and one day it all clicks and suddenly you are slalom skiing. The look of pride on that face is something the ski instructors never forget. Fourteen year-old kids come into lunch beaming from ear to ear because they have finally, FINALLY gotten up on one ski. It’s priceless.
And they learn that they really are strong, and capable, and that they really can conquer what seems impossible. THAT is the knowledge they take with them when they leave camp…to never give up. THAT is how they grow at Deerhorn.