The Goodness of Challenge

4

Many of you know that I have four children. As I think of their futures and the dreams I have for them, all paths hope for a life void of challenge. I want their journeys to be easy. I want them to make genuine and lasting friendships, find love and happiness with ease, have long, fulfilling lives where they love getting up in the morning. When I dream of these things though, I know they cannot be achieved without facing challenges along the way.

My oldest daughter is about to embark on her first trip with Wilderness Adventures. She will be one of our younger campers and has long awaited this experience. Nevertheless, as the date gets closer and closer, we have noticed her excitement turn to apprehension, and nerves about the big trip emerge. The unknown traveling through airports, meeting new people, sleeping so far away from home, not being able to talk to us for two weeks, the food and having to go to the bathroom at night seems daunting. The other night, for the first time, she casually said, ‘I have a lot of worries, so what if I just don’t go?’

I listened to my daughter, and for a second, I considered her proposal. The world today provides us with every opportunity to be a helicopter parent: to swoop in and smooth the ride for our kids in any and every possible way. To give her this out would be easy. But, then I remembered how excited she was about this trip, and how deep down, I know she can’t wait to go. Moreover, I thought of how this challenge, this feeling of being uncomfortable, this sense of unknowing, and, most importantly,her ability to overcome these challenges will be so important to her growth as a young adult.

I am not going to lie, at Wilderness Adventures, we challenge our students. We do not push them in unnatural, risky or unsafe ways. Rather, we ask them to dig deep and ignite a fire within themselves. One that empowers them and inspires them to overcome whatever ‘climb’ is in front of them.That ‘climb’ might be a long day on the trail, rising early for a sea kayaking trip, or enduring obnoxious mosquitos. By challenging our children, we teach them to be strong and independent in the face of internal and external opposition. With each tackled hurdle, we can see  and celebrate the tenacity in which our kids approached their journey. Here, at WA, we add to every student’s personal resume of accomplishments. We hope to show them how much they are capable of. This way, when the challenges of life arise they can think back and remember these moments of success. They can confront what is in front of them, and their future, knowing , ‘I got this.’ And ultimately develop the grit, confidence and determination to achieve all those dreams that they and their parents have.

The bag is now packed; nevertheless, the nerves remain. As parents, we looked for that spark in our daughter; the one that told us she was up for the  challenge. We asked her what she was excited for on the trip and she named more things that she was excited for than she was worried about. She is up for the challenge! We can’t wait for her to return and recount all the apprehensions she conquered throughout her journey.