Camp Echo Lake Foundations: Empathy
Last month, we introduced to you all Camp Echo Lake’s Foundations. This week we are highlighting one of our foundations, empathy.
Empathy: “Care About It”
- As Echo Lakers we acknowledge and relate to the feelings of others and operate under the understanding that our actions and words impact others.
- Why? Relating to the feelings of others – and having people around you who relate to yours – creates a sense of community spirit and love.
Please enjoy Laurie’s blog post about empathy and hear more about why it is such a crucial part of what we promote at CEL.
Understanding the difference between sympathy and empathy has always been important to me. Sympathy, “feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune,” as opposed to Empathy, “the feeling that you understand and share another person’s experiences and emotions,” makes all the difference when it comes to relating to others and creating a sense of community spirit and love. At Echo Lake we believe that practicing empathy towards others and towards yourself allows every camper and staff person to relate to each other’s experiences and become more understanding of our similarities and differences. Practicing empathy also allows every camper and staff person to understand that their actions and words have an impact on those around them, in both positive and negative ways. I might even go as far as to say that it is an Echo Laker’s ability to practice empathy that creates the warmth in our Warm Inner Glow.
Lately I have been listening to the song, “This Is Me,” on repeat. The lyrics move me every time. They are a battle cry for each of us to be empathetic to each other, and to be empathetic to ourselves. When we each realize that every one of us struggles to feel “good enough,” that is empathy. When we each realize that we have to help each other feel “good enough,” that is empathy. When we realize that even with scars and broken parts, we ARE “good enough,” that is empathy. Here is a link to the “This is Me” lyric video and some lyrics from the song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CjxugyZCfuw
I’m not a stranger to the dark. “Hide away,” they say, “’Cause we don’t want your broken parts.” I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars. “Run away,” they say, “No one will love you as you are.” But I won’t let them break me down to dust. I know that there’s a place for us. For we are glorious! When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. I am brave, I am bruised, I am who I’m meant to be, this is me! Look out ’cause here I come. And I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me!
Another round of bullets hits my skin. Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in. We are bursting through the barricades. And reaching for the sun…we are warriors! Yeah, that’s what we’ve become. Won’t let them break me down to dust. I know that there’s a place for us. For we are glorious! And I know that I deserve your love. There’s nothing I’m not worthy of. When the sharpest words wanna cut me down, I’m gonna send a flood, gonna drown them out. This is brave, this is bruised, This is who I’m meant to be, this is me! Look out ’cause here I come. And I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me!
This coming summer will be my 33rd summer at Camp Echo Lake. Each summer it is my time at camp that allows me to really be my true self because of the empathetic community around me. Even though I am, sweaty, dirty, wearing no makeup, hair in a bun, wearing a t-shirt and shorts, I feel like my best self. Who can empathize with that? At camp, I have played in tennis tournaments or on a softball team with minimal athletic skill, I have danced and sung on stage no matter how good I was, I have spoken in front of hundreds of people regardless of being nervous. I have done things that scared me because I knew that CEL is a place where people have empathy for all of those feelings and that gave me the courage to face my fears and do it anyway. After a serious car accident many years ago, when I was literally “ashamed of all my scars,” the empathy and understand that I felt at Camp Echo Lake was what allowed me to be brave enough to be seen, scars and all. The empathy that the CEL community practices is what, every summer, leaves me feeling supported, loved, and, broken parts and all, empathized with.
Since we genuinely practice empathy every day Echo Lake, we truly allow campers and staff to be who they are, “broken parts” and all. We acknowledge that sharp and hurtful words do cut people down and are not ok. We celebrate that campers and staff are brave, and bruised, and whoever they are meant to be, truly is glorious! It is through empathy that we can look at another camper or staff person and understand how they might be feeling and relate to that on a human level. When a camper or staff person is truly seen for who they are and afforded the empathy that that is “good enough” it allows them to proudly proclaim, as we see each summer, “I’m marching on to the beat I drum. I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me!” That is powerful stuff.
It is because of Camp Echo Lake and one of our CEL Foundations, empathy, that I can say, “This is me!” Remember Echo Lakers that “when the sharpest words wanna cut you down,” your Echo Lake family will show you empathy and “send a flood, gonna drown them out.” We empathize with each other in our CEL community so that each of us knows that they matter, they are good enough, and that they are part of a community that celebrates each member declaring, “I’m not scared to be seen, I make no apologies, this is me!”