The Rewards of Risk

/The Rewards of Risk

The Rewards of Risk

I am a bad singer. Like tone-deaf-nails-on-chalkboard crazy bad. When I was in high school, the family joke was that I was asked to sing solo…you know, so low that no one could hear me. Singing in public fills me with fear similar to sitting at the top of a rollercoaster with no seatbelt.

 

And here I am at a camp where everyone is encouraged to lead songs. Hmmm.

 

I am a bad singer. Like tone-deaf-nails-on-chalkboard crazy bad. When I was in high school, the family joke was that I was asked to sing solo…you know, so low that no one could hear me. Singing in public fills me with fear similar to sitting at the top of a rollercoaster with no seatbelt.

 

And here I am at a camp where everyone is encouraged to lead songs. Hmmm.

 

Tom Baker, the founder of Special Love, usually gives the final talk to staff before campers arrive. He often closes with this poem:

___________

 

“To Risk”

 

To laugh is to risk appearing a fool,

To weep is to risk appearing sentimental.

 

To reach out to another is to risk involvement,

To expose feelings is to risk exposing your true self.

 

To place your ideas and dreams before a crowd is to risk their loss.

 

To love is to risk not being loved in return,

To live is to risk dying,

To hope is to risk despair,

To try is to risk failure.

 

But risks must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing.

 

The person who risks nothing, does nothing, has nothing, is nothing.

 

He may avoid suffering and sorrow,

But he cannot learn, feel, change, grow, or live.

 

Chained by his servitude he is a slave who has forfeited all freedom.

 

Only a person who risks is free.

 

——

 

I think about my own risks – of leading a song at campfire, of eating ‘mystery meat’ at lunch, of reaching out to a child who may think I’m just not fun or cool enough.

 

Then I think about our campers and what they are risking. Some campers come to camp straight from hospital beds; for some this is their FIRST time away from home. For many, this is the first time they won’t have to worry about being different. Now those are real risks, and I’m embarrassed at my own.

 

So I sit down at a table of teens and ask about their favorite member of One Direction, take a bite of that “chicken patty”, and think, “Hey campers, have you met my inner Beyonce?”

2012-08-12T23:53:34+00:00 Camp Fantastic|1 Comment

One Comment

  1. Lynn Espinoza August 13, 2012 at 12:11 pm - Reply

    Erica, this is so wonderful and special. You really took the words out of my daughter’s (Serena Wade) mouth. She has said so many times that when she is at camp, that no one judges you for being different, they are treat you the same. She feels different around her friends here at home, but when she’s there, she feels “normal” (whatever normal is).
    What you guys do there is wonderful, special and magical. To me, a mom, seeing a smile on her face because of you guys and what you do, means everything.

    Thank You,
    Lynn Espinoza

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