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“Children show me in their playful smiles the divine in everyone. This simple goodness shines straight from their hearts. Being with them connects us to the deeper wisdom of life. These children are a reminder of the preciousness of all life, especially young lives untouched by hatred, prejudice and greed. Now, when the world is so confused and its problems so complicated, we need our children more than ever. Their natural wisdom points the way to solutions that lie waiting to be recognized within our own hearts.”  -Michael Jackson

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I never went to summer camp, but I didn’t have to. I lived it. 

Growing up on a lake in central Minnesota was essentially like living at summer camp. NEVER was there a lack of things to do, especially when you have your friends down the road and your cousins live 3  miles away in town, or right through the woods and across the creek depending on which cousins we’re talking about. That topped off with our animal “playmates” of horses, goats, chickens, dogs, cats and rabbits, and ten acres of wooded land to call your playground, what more could any kid ever want or need? Pure heaven.

Summers in Minnesota rocked and never did we come in at night “clean” from the days’ non-stop activities. Heck no. I’m pretty sure we all looked like dirty pigs – dirt on our faces and scrapes on our arms and legs – but smiles from ear to ear and hearts full up from the connection, play, and interaction with each other and the magic of life itself.

This is what kids were meant for – swimming, fishing, building forts in the woods, riding horses, playing baseball and football in the pasture with the animals, biking down the country roads, going to the local lake resort to buy a treat in the form of Reeses Peanut Butter cups! Seriously, did it get any better? Or how about sweet corn, watermelon, and bonfires? What about the heat and humidity of a midsummer’s day followed by the building excitement and electricity in the air of a late afternoon thunderstorm? And the beautiful smell of freshness, sunshine and rainbows that would take us into the evening? I mean… could it get any better? Summer camp at it’s finest. Seriously. It’s finest.

No cell phones. No iPods. No video games. NO technology whatsoever and most importantly, NO boredom. None, yet all senses stimulated… All. Day. Long.

I can’t help but hear Archie and Edith Bunker from All in the Family at the piano singing, “those were the days!”  OMG, were they!

Summer Camp… Yes.

When I went off to college, I worked as a camp counselor at the YMCA summer camp two summers in a row. Even though it wasn’t quite like the “natural” and “ongoing” summer camp I grew up with in Minnesota, it was the next best thing. It was the opportunity for kids to be kids in the way they deserve to be – playing, being creative, having fun, learning team building and life changing skills. Many kids look back on their summer camp experiences with such profound fondness! It changed many kids’ lives. One in particular, I remember…

Her name was Callie. Callie was in 5th grade and assigned to my group for the summer. She was tall for her age… taller than me (not saying much here – ha!), and instead of enjoying her childhood, she was miserable and unfortunately, insisted on making others’ have the same miserable experience by not being very nice. She wore a scowl on her face, always. Many times she’d walk right up to me, look me straight in the eye and say, “I hate you.” Hmmm… “That’s ok,” I’d say calmly, “You don’t have to like me. You are free to feel what you do.” She never really knew what to do with that, but I wasn’t going to let her take my joy. I didn’t change how I was with her; I just stayed steady. I didn’t waver from my center and continued treating her with respect and asking her for help with the younger kids from time to time. She often refused and chose to not participate in the group activities – sitting by herself, alone – and that was ok. It was her choice and she was always welcome when and if she was ever ready. As I said, she was free to do what she wanted. Be miserable or not. We are all free to choose that; it’s our life. So, I just let her be. Never angry with her…  just allowed her to have her experience.

But here’s what else was going on with Callie. She had Juvenile Diabetes and that is a tough thing to deal with as a child – a serious health issue. I don’t many adults who deal with disease with much joy, much less a child. It’s tough.

As her camp counselor, I really had to pull from deep inside to know what was the best way to handle her. The answer that kept coming to me was, “just let her be… don’t react, but definitely don’t change your demeanor toward her.”  In other words, just love her and create the space for her to feel that love. Period. That’s all I needed to do/be.

Shift happens…

Fast forward to the last day of camp that summer. Her mother came up to me (a rather stoic woman… I could see where Callie might’ve inherited her lack of joy for life, I hate to say), wrapped her arms around me with tears in her eyes and said, “I don’t know what you did with my daughter, but I have never experienced her to be so happy in her life! I can’t thank you enough.”

Hmmm… yes. Callie had done pretty much a 180 degree turnaround – I admit – and I’m not saying this for any personal praise. Far from it, rather I just know the power of love, the power of allowing AND the power of Summer Camp. It’s life changing.

LIFE. CHANGING.

Several years ago, I got curious as to what Callie was up to in her life these days. According to my calculations at the time, she was about 21. Thanks to the internet I was able to find her. OMG. Tears welled in my eyes as my heart felt a huge sense of fulfillment. Callie was now working as a camp counselor, herself, at a Juvenile Diabetes Camp in Big Bear! Wow! How amazing! What goes around, comes around. Here she was now making a difference in some child’s life. Or maybe many. This the beauty of life. This is the beauty of Summer Camp.

So that’s why, on Sunday, June 4th, 2017, my team – State of the Heart Fitness - will, once again, be participating in an incredible fundraising Spinning event sponsored by the Harold Robinson Foundation called, “Pedal on the Pier“! It is a foundation that raises money so underprivileged inner city kids from LA can experience something they never would otherwise have the opportunity to experience – SUMMER CAMP – and it literally changes their lives!

We Spin! Kids Win!

To check out the photo gallery from past camps click HERE.

To DONATE to our STATE OF THE HEART FITNESS Team, Click HERE!

POTP craziness

Our State of the Heart Fitness team being silly and having fun raising money for kids! Help us help them! Thank you!

Together we make the world a better place!

With love, Lisa & Team State of the Heart Fitness thanks YOU!

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Lisa Brisse – Founder of State of the Heart Fitness
www.stateoftheheartfitness
 
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