by Colby Harris
As I went into Summer 2020 at Grit University, I was very excited for a few things: my own house, a gym across the street, great work experience, and yes, I will admit, the money. All these great things coming to me at once was a thrilling experience. Each day I was doing everything in my power to innovate Grit Camp to make it the best camp I could be a part of. I wanted to gain the most training and skill as possible for my own personal growth. The night before the first day of camp, though, I realized something. As I prepared for summer it had just been me, me, me and all about what I could do and gain from my internship. This was not something I wanted to make a habit of for this summer. As Brian says, “It’s all about paying it forward.”
This summer we did a lot of different things such as ran a summer camp, advertised our camp, worked out before camp everyday, counseled our camp for 10 weeks, and much more. With over 207 campers the summer was a grand slam! With camp thriving and our workouts each morning, we had highly active days and I managed to lose 12 pounds over the summer. Everything went just as I had always envisioned it but I gained one major value that I never understood before. As we started camp this power slowly yet indescribably presented itself to me. That would be the power of giving.
As we started camp, I loved the term grit and what it meant. So I encouraged everyone to give one hundred percent day in and day out at camp. It was interesting to see how everyone was so different in determination and athletic ability yet everyone had their own special skill. At such a young age most of our kids were very self conscious and nervous to try new things with so many people around. This was just one way I learned how rewarding it is to be running grit camp. When a young kid who typically wouldn't step outside of their comfort zone actually gets out there and goes for it, it gets me beyond thrilled! The best feeling comes when they run up with a big smile on their face and experience that sensation of achievement.
At camp we had a lot of return campers therefore I was able to build solid relationships with a lot of young kids. I am talking 6-7 weeks of camp for a lot of these kids! They just couldn't get enough of it. They looked up to me and would mimic different things I did. If I rolled up my sleeves, so would they. If I wanted water, they became thirsty. If I wanted an apple for a snack, you can believe that was a hot ticket. This same chain occurred through all the counselors and just whoever surrounded them. It's amazing to watch how they can open up to me and not just tolerate me, but befriend me. They would share their feelings with me and elaborate on topics people would never typically expect them to understand.
By the end of the summer it had become very clear to me that the difference I was making was so much more gratifying than any amount of money I could ever make. The icing on the cake was at our Grit Banquet at Seasons 52, Brian had compiled a video of a majority of our campers from this summer. They all were saying thank you for being their counselor and sharing different experiences from the summer. Some of them would say i love you at the end. It was so pure and innocent it just reminded me of how much I valued my counselors when I was younger. It became so obvious how important it was to maintain involvement in the youth. As a young kid you value fun and enjoyment more than anything else. So at 10 years old when you are asked to stay home for weeks at a time, away from your friends, what would this do to you?
That is the importance of what I have done this summer. Most kids came into camp seeing each other for the first time since march and were almost all shy. Just about every single kid was skittish on day one. The development we saw from week one to week eight was immense. All the kids were ecstatic to come to camp everyday once they had been. Through my doing, these kids were able to be kids again. In such a weird world, nothing is more valuable than personal relationships. Being able to get out and spend time with each other while doing positive things is key to a stable life. So at the end of my 2020 Grit Summer what did I learn? You get what you give. Whether it’s in the gym, at work, or just life in general. Give your absolute best and bring positive energy. Make an impact for the betterment of someone else's future instead of your own. As long as you do this then you will not have to chase the better things in life, they will find you.