If you are a college football fan, like me, then the National Championship game between Georgia and Alabama was a sensational game. I was born in Georgia and graduated from the University of Georgia; I am a Bulldog fan through and through.
At camp, we certainly play a lot of group games and we do enjoy, from time to time, a good movie, an educational documentary, or a political debate. At times, however, and often, these endeavors have a purposeful end goal. One of the most unique and committed philosophies of camp is that the girls learn from doing, from participating, and from being an active and engaged member. So, just like the National Championship game, the deepest and most lasting change happens for a girl when she isn’t even aware it is occurring. Or, she is acquiring one skill or working hard on one specific problem area, but a greater, lifelong wisdom is discovered. It is our belief, that regardless of what issue, problem, hurt, and weight a girl comes to camp with, the reality is that they have a long life ahead of them. They will only be in this time and space once. Where they are now is only a small mile marker, the journey ahead is further, and they are obligated to actively and fervently pursue it.
While the purpose game was to determine the team to be named the 2018 National Champions, there were many deeper lessons for players, coaches, fans, and the girls at camp. While too many to name, here are a few:
We all need cheerleaders, we all need people in our corner routing for us, even when we are the underdogs. Can you image the impact made on both teams because of their fan base? A cheerleader, a supporter, lifts you up without having to bring someone else down. Cheering for Georgia, does not equal booing, or belittling Alabama. Often the girls have an “either”, “or”, mindset. They have little insight into being a true and steady friend and misinterpret faith, culture, and diversity. The game gave the girls a wonderful opportunity to explore and dissect their support system and how it truly demonstrates support. It also gave each girl an opportunity to reflect on areas of their lives where they think they are supporting, but, it is only a rejection of something else. How do your cheerleaders encourage you? How do you support other people in your life or one’s beliefs/opinions that aren’t the same as yours?
Life does not have a uniform arbitrator. While there were penalties called for both teams, there were also rules that were broken that were not called. The face mask, the off sides on the block punt, and the shove to Jake Fromm by the Alabama lineman. While this might have been frustrating, or a source of suspicion after the game, the game is over and Georgia did not win. You can be as incredulous as you want, but the outcome did not change. In reflecting the “unfairness” with the girls, it was easily noted that their sense of fair and just, does not go both ways. The lesson, the lifelong lesson, is that you will in fact get called on something you did not do. In addition, you will in fact, get away with something you should have been called on. This will happen to each of us. Life does not have a penalty buzzer that is infallible. We all have this little thing called integrity and at the end of this journey we are each responsible for the choices in our own journey. How often do you practice “full responsibility?” Do you find yourself blaming, complaining, pointing out other’s faults, or flaws?
Sometimes you lose. Somewhere along the way, these girls have adopted the belief that loosing, failing, and not being good enough is: first, a personal reality and second a “bad” thing. Georgia played a great game, but so did Alabama. Neither team was perfect, both teams made mistakes, and both had some good old-fashioned flukes. Perhaps the “effort” equaled the “outcome,” perhaps it did not. But, the players, the coaches, and the fans gave it everything they had and were overwhelmingly grateful for the opportunity to do something they loved. Trust me, I am disappointed we lost, but I am much more grateful for the fact that we were even there. I love Georgia’s running backs, Nick Chubb and Sony Michel. They have been friends and roommates for many years. They both chose to play out their senior year at Georgia instead of going to the draft. They stayed for the hope of this one game. The one word, both young men used after the game was “grateful.” The loss hurts, but the gratitude heals. The loss is passing, the gratitude is permanent. Sometimes the “almost” can be the enduring moment. In the past the girls may have rarely reflected on gratitude, now they do it every day. How much of your day is spent in gratitude?
While at camp, the girls experience life together. Yes, there are certain areas that need to be addressed, massaged, and redirected. These are the little life nuggets that we get to experience together that will alter the trajectory of their lives.