Hillary Clinton Goes To Camp!
At this year’s Tri-State Camp Conference in Atlantic City, NJ, the largest camp conference in the world, I had the opportunity to join our keynote speaker, Hillary Clinton, on stage for a 40 minute casual conversation covering a wide variety of topics of interest to the more 3500 attendees, representing over 600 camps from across the country, who were in the audience.
As this was a conference of camp professionals, the questions I asked her focused on issues surrounding youth development and other topics of interest to an industry that deals with children and their parents. Neither Hillary nor her staff had access to the questions in advance.
There are several portions in answers she gave that really stood out. We discussed her role as a mother and the difficulties cecing today’s parents in balancing the desire to protect children in an ever more complex society with the need to give them the independence to flourish and build self-confidence. The life example she related about her mother sending her back outside to face down a group of bullies was classic. When asked about her own resilience she attributed it to the inspiration she gained from her mother’s difficult childhood and her ability to overcome adversity.
I was most struck by her answers to my last two questions. Part of a rapid-fire series seeking brief responses, I asked her “of all of the character traits, what, in your view, is the most important? She answered “love and kindness.” When I asked if she had a motto or “words that you live by” she quoted a religious essay and focused on the “discipline of gratitude.” She quoted her mother as telling her “you can be the lead actor in you own life or you can be a bit player reacting to other people.”
We teach our campers the importance of kindness. Appreciation is one of our core STARFISH values. Listening to someone, whether you are a supporter or not, who has such a national profile and has been involved in virtually every aspect of public life over the past few decades, speak so convincingly of the value of what we do every summer, I know that I came away excited for the start of yet another summer. From what I saw looking out at the more than 3000 people who joined us that day, I wasn’t alone.
– Jay Jacobs