It is alright if you fail.
I repeat: It is alright to fail.
You cannot hear this enough. Failing is okay. This is not something that we usually tell each other and something that we definitely do not tell children. We don’t often want failure, we want successes. Getting a failing math mark, or missing that goal in your soccer game, or not passing your driver test on the first try might seem like the end of the world, but they don’t have to be.
As a self-proclaimed perfectionist, it was the most unbelievable thing to let myself fail. I was in Drama 12, with Mrs. Lewis, my FAVOURITE teacher ever, and I was failing, in the most dramatic way possible, at improvising. Improv does not come naturally to me. You have to let go of control, trust your group, and feel free enough to fail. Being the control freak that I generally am, this is an exercise in EXCRUTIATING pain. I hate letting go. I hate failing. What if I look foolish? What if this doesn’t make sense? WHAT IF I’M TRYING TO BE FUNNY AND NO ONE LAUGHS? I learned that I had to be allowed to fail, because that is the only way to get better. If I look foolish, then I may get laughs. If it doesn’t make sense, then it is silly, and silly is funny. If you are trying to be funny, often you aren’t funny at all! So by forcing myself to be in control, I was actually failing.
If you aren’t able to let yourself fail sometimes, then how do you learn? Failure is not an ending. It is a beginning. If you passed your driving test, great, but the person who has to re-take it will practice that parallel parking a hundred more times and will get better and better at it. They will be able to parallel park a bus when they are finished with all of that practice.
Every time you try something new, you have the opportunity to fail. Accepting failure is important at a place like summer camp. If you are new to the camp experience, of course you have the chance to fail. A glorious chance to screw something up. Whether it is a new game, a new craft, or learning to work in a new community of people, (Hello Co-op Camp!), learning how to communicate, learning how to compromise, you will perhaps fail a little at first. You will have to expect to make a few mistakes and accept that you have done so. Simply accept this fact. Do it. 😊 Because once you do, then you can learn from the mistake, and you can learn the successful habit or skill that you need to make the situation better.
When you try something new, to expect to be perfect, to not make one single mistake, is a ridiculous expectation. Simply by holding this belief, you are going to fail, because no one is perfect! A wise person once said to me, “Do you have a belly button? Yes, you do, you are human, now prepare to fail 10% of the time.”
Correcting failures leads to personal growth. When you have the right attitude, failure blossoms into learning. Camp is the perfect place for this kind of learning too, because no matter what, you are in the camp bubble, and you know you are supported and encouraged the whole time. We are all in this together, and if there is anywhere in the world that it is safe to fail and learn, it is Co-op Camp.