Everything I Need to Know I Learned at Summer Camp

As summer winds down and my kids come home from camp, I am reminded about how much I learned during those eight weeks away that I still keep with me today and use as part of my daily professional life.

At camp you have to pool resources, using whatever individual campers can contribute for talent show costumes or bunk decorations to win the top prize. On our team, we pool experience and media contacts for the same reason – to be successful. Don’t be stingy with what or who you know – the team is stronger as a result of everyone’s shared contributions.

Go Along to Get Along:
Sometimes at camp the group needs to do the same activities whether individual members want to or not. Otherwise, you lose important privileges like extra ice cream or being first in line for the showers. With clients, you may not always agree with their course of action. After providing your best recommendation, if they don’t agree, you need to follow their lead. Sometimes you just need to go along to get along.

Kill Them With Kindness:
This is one of my favorite sayings – and life lessons. In every bunk – as well as in every office – there is someone (or a couple of someones) who you just don’t like. It could be a mean bunkmate, jealous co-worker or an arrogant client, but my prescription is the same: The meaner they are, the nicer you should be. Eventually they just get tired of being mean to you and move on. Whether your bed gets short-sheeted, or you get thrown under the bus in a big meeting, give everyone a big smile, say thank you and keep going. Nothing irritates a mean person than being thwarted in their attempt to get you riled up.

Now, while I wish it were still possible for me to spend a few carefree weeks at camp each summer, at least I can benefit from lessons I learned at Camp Naticook so long ago.


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