Published: August 16, 2017
BY JENNIFER PARSONS
“Many of us live as if we are icebergs floating aimlessly in the sea of life, and largely submerged. We hide most of ourselves, and especially our most tender, secret places, far below the surface.” – Oprah
I received an email a week or so ago from one of our columnists Rhonda Beckman that essentially said “I’m at the farm.” It said more than that but the message stated here is what has stuck with me since, because upon receipt of the message my automatic response was essentially going to be this: “Awesome, I ‘m at the lake.”
T’is the season for summer vacations and like most I have been trying to suck in as much “fun in the sun” that I can before the arena opens up next month (yep, believe it – ice sports are back in action in less than four weeks.)
If you read Rhonda’s column regularly you know her being at the farm is a regular occurrence. If you read this side of the spread often you have probably surmised that I prefer to spend the months without snow and ice in the wilderness doing, well, anything that doesn’t involve technology and/or big crowds.
But once a year I shake off my anti-social vibe and head south with a group of friends from high school and beyond where we essentially set up camp and spend the week co-parenting the children and catching up on all things life, love and “happily?” ever after.
There is a core group of us that have known each other for some time but each year there are new faces that join in on the expedition and it never ceases to amaze me what things you can learn about someone, old and new, at a late night campfire.
That is until I spent the last few days and nights with some high school students and teachers. One night in particular we were discussing school activities and “challenge day” which I had never heard of, or experienced. The way the students explained it was that you would spend much of your time playing games and completing tasks and the rest of it sharing feelings. The teacher explains that the physical activity and team work exercises break down barriers allowing for the free exchange of information and emotion. Suddenly the late night campfire shares didn’t seem to be so random.
While the Challenge Day activity is curriculum focussed, with scripted exercises and leaders available to guide participants into the sate whereby they can “recognize stereotypes and labels that exist among them, and are then willing to share and connect as a human being.” I can see some parallels to what happens when you mix a group of people who know, but don’t always ‘know’ each other together for a few days without the distraction of life in general and modern conveniences and replace that with everyday survival activities like feeding one another and gathering supplies.
Now not all campfire nights are one big sharefest but I have been at more than a few where during the day we found commonality in activity and idea exchanges which led to breaking down barriers once night fell.
After the discussion I read up on Challenge Day, specifically its “if you knew me” exercise and I encourage you to do the same if only for one reason. We can work on more than our tan in the summer months. We can get to know each other a little better and breed compassion in our lives and that of our children which, in my opinion, is not a bad accomplishment for a few weeks spent “at the lake.”