We live in a culture and society that loves success. We cheer on our heros and role models, seeking to emulate their abilities and achievements. Failing in that effort, however, can be extremely discouraging. We are so failure averse that we are unable to see it as a necessary and purposeful step on the road to success. Sometimes the fear of it can even keep us from getting started.

Here at camp, our mission is growth through friends and adventure, and we believe that failure is vital to realizing that mission. Failures help us grow, and there is no adventure (and no true friendship either), without the risk of running into some failure along the way. Timberlake is a place where boys feel the freedom to fail, and to get back up and try again with smile on their face.

So how can you build a ‘safe to fail’ community? Firstly, we remove the people it is the hardest to fail in front of for a little while. For us as young men, that’s girls and our parents (even really great parents!). Secondly, we build a community full of peers and role models who encourage us when we fail and model enthusiastic failure too.

It’s easier to try that front flip off the diving board when you watch your counselor try it, mess up, and come back smiling. It’s easier to leave the safety of the bunker for a daring raid in an airsoft game if your friends are right there with you. Our campers try new things everyday because they know they are already accepted by their counselors and peers for who they are.

Being a part of a community where each camper is individually known and appreciated for who they are naturally begets trying new things, because we know our friendships and place here at camp aren’t dependent on nailing every new thing on the first try. Summer after summer we have the privilege of watching our campers use this ‘freedom to fail’ to grow into outstanding young men and we are so proud of them. Thank you for trusting us with your sons’ failures as well as their successes, and join us for an incredible summer of growth.

John Menendez
Director, Camp Timberlake

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm” -Winston Churchill