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Natural Awakenings South Jersey

Try New Things!: Developing Aspiration with Our Children

Mar 31, 2016 03:45PM ● By Andy Pritikin

When our children our young, we often ask them what they want to be when they grow up. Typical answers range from “a fireman,” “a ballerina,” and “a pro athlete” and we smile, pat them on the head and tell them that they can be anything they want to be in life. We encourage children to embrace the opportunities available to them, to taste new foods, sports, the arts and more. At some point though, we unfortunately hear things like, “I don’t like basketball, I stink at it,” or “I don’t like art; I can’t draw.” Where do they learn this? Most likely from the parents and grown-ups around them.

Liberty Lake SummercampAs a former professional musician, I constantly hear adults (not kids) say “I can’t sing; I have a terrible voice,” or “I could never get up on stage in front of people.” Why do we do this? It may appear to just be a lack of confidence, but it’s actually more a fear of failure—of looking bad in front of your kids and other adults.

As parents and caregivers, we need to set an example by putting aside our own likes and dislikes, and not vocalizing our lack of confidence in those areas. Kids love when adults fail or make mistakes. For example, when kids see mom or dad or a grandparent putting on a harness at a rock climbing gym—being scared, failing at first, trying again and succeeding—it teaches them that failure is just a stepping stone to success. We tell our counselors at Liberty Lake that when they fail at something, or even make a mistake, not to cover it up, but to talk to the kids about it, tell them how you feel (embarrassed, frustrated, etc.) and show the kids how to laugh it off and move forward.

Liberty Lake Day CampEvery child has some kind of “super power” and it’s up to us as caregivers to find what it is. At Liberty Lake, we encourage children to try things like beekeeping, high ropes adventure, mountain biking, sculpture, archery, boating, fishing, rocketry, fencing, videography, rock band instruments—opportunities that kids don’t experience at home. Eighty percent of surveyed parents last summer felt that their children experienced an improvement in trying new things since attending camp. I attribute this to both the exposure to so many new activities, as well as the encouragement and support of our staff. We can do this at home as well, but we need to set the example ourselves!

Andy Pritikin is the President of the American Camp Association, NY/NJ and Owner/Director of Liberty Lake Day Camp located at 1195 Florence Columbus Rd in Bordentown. For more information, visit or call 609-499-7820.

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