The Owl – The Importance of Feeling Important

I dislike salespeople. I always have. To be fair, it’s not the people, so much as the concept:

“Buy this product, and you will be important! You will be noticed, and you will be part of THE exclusive class of others who own this product!”

 Leaving us to assume, of course, that if for some reason we are silly enough NOT to buy the product, we just aren’t that important and will continue to wander the earth in search of recognition and validation.

That’s why I want to explore the importance of making others feel important specifically when we’re NOT selling them something; I want to explore a space in which we transcend these transactional relationships, and truly pride ourselves on holding up others while expecting nothing in return: yes, I’m talking about summer camp.

If you were to ask campers and staff members, alike, why they return to their favorite camps each and every summer, my guess is that the answer would be the same across the board: for those few weeks, we feel important.

We feel important in these spaces because our staff members go to great lengths to find just what makes each camper feel seen, supported, and valued. And then they praise it, they celebrate it, and they hold it up for the rest of the camp to see.

Did that camper just have the courage to get up and perform a skit at our weekly campfire?!? CELEBRATION!

Did that camper just stuff 10 saltines in her mouth and then whistle for 10 seconds?! CELEBRATION!

Did that camper just brush his teeth for the first time in 9 days?!? CELEBRATION!!!

And no, these are not necessarily magnanimous feats (well, maybe the toothbrushing…) which is precisely why summer camp matters as much as it does: we celebrate the mundane, we celebrate the absurd, and we celebrate those wonderfully quirky things about each camper and staff member that make them unique, so that even if it’s just for a few short weeks each summer, we all grow up feeling as if we have something to bring to the campfire. We grow up feeling as if we’re important without having to buy something in return.