This summer I went to Girls’ Camp, and I loved it! I helped at a religious girls’ camp located in the mountains surrounding the Salt Lake Valley. I was lucky to share four days in the great outdoors with 22 young women—ages 12 to 18 years old—and their five adult leaders. Plus, I also learned some valuable business lessons.
I’m confident some readers will certainly think I’m crazy and believe I’ve lost my mind. They might ask “Why in the world would anyone spend four vacation days with that many teenage girls and their adult leaders?” The simple answer is that I was asked to help AND frankly I enjoyed it. (Teenagers can be fun to be around, especially when your daughter is included.)
We need to learn from those young women how to get along. You might think 27 young—and slightly older—women sharing a small camping site would spell disaster or drama, but not with this group! There were no petty disagreements or bigger arguments which are sometimes common among other teenagers. Instead they reached beyond their immediate circle of friends and included others. I saw the older girls gladly welcome the youngest ones into their group of friends to play, read, and simply enjoy getting to know each other.
It is easy to become angry at a fellow co-worker, business partner, family member or vendor. If we learned to control our anger better, we could open communication channels more clearly and talk through our differences. Through hard experience, I’ve learned that often when disputes arise it is the result of miscommunication. Or perhaps our goals and expectations simply don’t line up with each other. When this happens I’ve found it best to take the time to discuss our differing perspectives. Often this results in an alignment of goals/perspectives.
We need to learn from those young women how to willingly adjust our plans. At camp, scheduled activities didn’t always go as planned. Last minute adjustments needed to be made for activities to succeed. Instead of being grumpy and bugged, the girls and their adult leaders just adapted to the changes.
In business we make all sorts of plans to help our companies grow. Even though our business plans are soundly created and carefully crafted, sometimes they fail and need to be adjusted. How do you react to failures and adjustments? As a business leader you can choose to react to challenges in a way that inspires support and trust instead of fear and worry among your co-workers.
We could learn the importance of relaxing from those young women. The young women live very busy lives and have much to concentrate on—sports, academic achievements, music study, jobs—which makes it hard for them to relax. These girls stayed busy even at camp. They helped prepare and clean up meals, maintain the camping area, hiked, learned first aid and survival skills and performed service. They were also asked to put away their cell phones and concentrate on nature, relaxing and being with friends. Surprisingly enough they complied with the no cell phone request. In fact, when I pulled out my cell phone/laptop to check on work they reminded me that I was breaking the “no technology” rule.
I absolutely enjoyed staying in the mountains—the green aspens, the pine trees, the brilliance of the stars, the earthy smells of flowers and trees. The time away from technology (when I complied) was rejuvenating. It felt good to be more disconnected, not checking email and text every few minutes.
We need to find a little more time in our busy lives to sit back, relax and take in the beauty around us. We need time to reflect and think. We need time to clear our minds so we can focus more clearly on the important aspects of our families, friends, religions, businesses and associates. Try disconnecting and relaxing in the mountains, at the lake, in the community park or on your own front porch.
I’ve heard some people say they worry about the future of the world because today’s teenagers have no values, no direction, and no plans for the future. While there are certainly teenagers that struggle, I’m highly optimistic about the future, especially for the young women I saw at camp this week. They know how to work, how to adapt and how to get along well with each other. Despite the challenging world, those young women are succeeding in life. We could all learn from their examples!
What business lessons did you learn this summer at camp?