What is ‘it’ all about? What defines us? What’s the point of ‘this’?
I humbly admit that I cannot speak with certainty about any of the above. That never stopped me from giving it a shot though.
Below is a picture of my dog Dean. He’s my buddy. He waits for me to get home and hates when I leave. I’ve spoken a million words to him. In fact, I’ve had entire monologues with him, and despite that obvious breach from reality, he still loves me unconditionally. More than anything, I can DEPEND on him. I can count on him to wag his tail after a hard day. I can give him a look, and he’s ready to run, walk, go to bed, etc. He’s there for me.
He’s there for me. Re-read that. Wow. Powerful, no?
Now, if all I had was Dean I’d be a lucky man. Well, I guess I should count my lucky stars because I ALSO have the best friends and family a guy can ask for. First and foremost, my dad is my hero. My sisters guide and inspire. My mom showed me what it meant to sacrifice. My friends have seen me at my worst, although many would say that’s actually when I’m at my ‘best,’ and have seen me in indescribable bliss. The common denominator: I can DEPEND on them all.
These influences in my life have taught me one, undeniable, unconditional truth. There is nothing in this world like KNOWING that you have someone you can count on. Someone that wants to know how your day went, even though that same person lost their job and is battling the flu that same day. Someone that says if you fall down thirty times, I’ll be there each time just so I can cherish that thirty first time when you are able to hold yourself up. That’s unconditional love.
Dean has no idea how to define unconditional love. He can’t articulate how it manifests itself or why many seek it earnestly. He just knows how to give it. It’s natural. A true friend, a true brother, sister, father, grandmother, etc. just knows how to give it. It’s organic.
As I progress as a teacher, coach, and camp director, I have learned that each student, camper, and team member will bring a different story with him or her. Each story is long, complicated, and ever changing. These stories have created a ‘product.’ By no means is it a finished product! There are many more chapters to write in said stories. My job is to promote an environment that screams to the people I am entrusted to look after that they can DEPEND on me. I may push them. I may disagree with their choices. In fact, I may grow frustrated with their behavior. But, like Dean, my friends and my family have done for me, I feel it is my responsibility to make it known that I’m there for them. It’s a responsibility I welcome.
At Future Stars, we are lucky to have counselors that are natural friends. They bring an innate love for children, and an inherent disposition to create a trusting and loving environment. We have certainly had many cases where campers have made poor decisions, but instead of knocking the kid down, we teach, instruct, and inspire. We make it known that despite the poor decision, you can DEPEND on us.
That’s so important. As Harry Truman once stated, I have found the best way to give advice to your children is to find out what they want and then advise them to do it. Guide, instruct, inspire, push, instill, promote, foster, love, support. These are not catch phrases; these are indispensable precepts from which to guide our actions.
Thanks for taking the time to read this. It’s now time to take a walk with my buddy; he counts on me as much as I do him.