For the past 462 days, I am sure you have noticed, there has been a great deal of coverage and conversation regarding some very important elections. For me, it began on August 4, 2015 with the start of the 42nd Canadian General Election, and has continued to today with the 58th US Presidential Contest. In those nearly 500 days, there have been some ups, downs, moments that inspire, and some that left many feeling frustrated or angry. While the tone and length of these competitions can leave some feeling as though there is no positive way of moving forward, I believe we can look to Camp for an important lesson on this matter.
While the scale and stakes of conflict or competition are obviously a lot smaller at Camp, the basic elements are the same no matter the circumstances: One person or team stands for one thing and someone(s) stands opposed. Whether it is the Presidential Election or Camp Challenge Night, a nationally televised debate or a disagreement in the bunk, in the end, both sides need to find a way to move on in the end. While this may seem to be a challenging next step given some of the negativity in this election, I think we set a good precedent at Echo Lake.
Step 1: Know that conflict is a good thing!
If we got along all the time, or if everyone was always on the same team, no one would ever improve. It is by challenging each other that we often expand our skills and refine our beliefs. The key here is that everyone involved must understand that conflict is healthy. At Camp, if you do not agree with one of your bunkmates or counsellors, it is best to discuss how you feel and not hold onto those feelings. Even if you are in complete opposition to someone else, if you both realize the value of your disagreement, you may be able to walk away with either a greater belief in yourself or a new perspective on the issue.
Step 2: Allow yourself to move-on!
I am sure we have all been in a situation where we are mad or disagree with someone and just cannot let it go. Even if you follow “step 1” and you have confronted the person or group you disagree with, it can be hard to officially let go and move on. We see this often in competition where after a tough loss, it can be hard to fully bounce-back right away. In the short-term, it is ok to be upset, or hold onto your feelings, but what our campers do exceptionally well, is moving on and seeing the positives in every outcome.
Step 3: Find the lessons.
After you have moved on and allowed some time away from a particular conflict on competitive situation, there are often some valuable lessons that can be learned if you take the time to look-back. Maybe in the heat of the moment you said something you regret. Perhaps there are some actions your wish you had or had not taken. While we cannot go back in time and change anything, we can learn how to be our best selves the next time.
At Camp, we all work hard to create an open, healthy and inclusive community. In this type of setting conflict can be resolved as quickly as it can form. Unfortunately it is not as simple in a major election, with millions of people taking different sides. In any case, however, there is immense value in this process. The key, as with anything, is to stay positive, stay optimistic, and in some cases, make lemons into lemonade!
See you all soon!