‘I’ve learnt a lot from my mistakes, so I think I’ll make some more.’
The ability to learn anything is based upon making mistakes. It’s ok to make mistakes. Show me someone – anyone – who hasn’t made a mistake, and I’ll show you someone who hasn’t tried to do anything. Making mistakes, and recovering from them, is how we learn. We emphasize this point with the boys, and it reassures them and spurs them on to try new things and not be afraid to do so. Talent is not innate. Talent has to be learned and practised. Talent is what you get from hours of learning and practice and making mistakes. Indeed, he/she who makes the most mistakes will probably be the most talented. Paradoxical as it is, it is true none-the-less. And why do I tell you all this? Because today we had a number of CM firsts, and this is something we like to celebrate after meal times. After many attempts, we had a number of boys who got up on skis for the first time. We had boys who shot a bulls-eye who had, hitherto, never done so. We had boys climb and zip off the wall for the first time. My point in all this is that these things that have been managed today have occurred after many attempts, many mistakes being made and many failures. But the boys persisted and they won through. With encouragement and gentle persuasion from coaches and counsellors alike, they have achieved that which they thought impossible; that which they thought only talented people could achieve. Now they understand that talent is learnt and is the product of hard work and a lot of practice. It is easy to misunderstand how talent works and how it is actually forged. Whether it is making a bed, hitting a home run or scoring the winning goal from a 35 yard free-kick in soccer, the ability to it, and the talent required to pull it off comes from many hours of determined practice. Michael Jordan, David Beckham, Wayne Gretzky, and many more besides have one thing in common: none of them were born talented; all of them had to work hard to make it look as if they were. And there is a lesson there for all of us to learn and follow.
We were putting these theories into practice ourselves, today, as we carried on with another normal day. Big Ten instructional and King of the Camp leagues dominated the bulk of the day, followed by a generous General at 4pm. Instead of Twilight League after dinner we did the Egg Drop. The idea is to drop an egg from the top of the climbing tower – 50′ high – and see if it doesn’t break. Of course the egg isn’t just dropped; it is encased in leaves and bark and sand and moss, all natural materials designed to break the fall. The tower normally wins, and tonight was no (egg)ception. Until, that is, the last cabin to go, cabin 13. Their egg survived, and so they were the only winners.
After Canteen we tried a new skit night: Mythical Creatures. The cabins had to invent a back story to a mythical creature and try to bring it to life on stage. This required a lot of creativity, and it was the Juniors who seemed to well at this. Using the Rhinelander Hodag as something of a template, their story did not involve impersonating any counsellor at camp (for once). Instead, it was original and good, and cabin 4 duly won.
The day has flown by, and all is well, so safely rest.