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Grab a Crab this Summer!

Crabs invaded Lake Inferior today!

Just kidding, but seriously, we hope that campers and staff will go crabbing this summer. Read on to learn how from our Head Counselor and guest blogger, Sarv!

Grab a Crab

My son-in-law Todd comes from a long line of fisherman. As a kid he spent his summers with his family in Alaska fishing. When they fished crabs they would use large nets and trawled until there were thousands of thousands of crabs.

Todd told me that, when he was twelve, on the boat, he met his first load of crabs as they avalanched onto the deck. He was bewildered. Part of his job was to determine which ones would have to go back in the ocean–the little ones. He didn’t know how to begin. There were so many. He asked his father to show him.

His father’s response, “Grab a crab.”

At first he didn’t know what it meant. “Grab a crab?!” Then he realized. His father could have showed him. But he would learn much more profoundly if he found out for himself. And he did.

We are so used to  having people tell us how to do things. We are so used to having people tell us what is right and what is wrong. As kids we learn in school that others have the answers.

“Listen to me. I know what’s right and what’s wrong. And let me tell you how to fix what’s going on with you. After all, I’m older and wiser.” Now I would never in a million years say that to someone. But, if I look at myself honestly (which I do from time to time) I find that I think it or at least feel it.

Of course it’s important for people to know how to do things. Teachers help us. You can’t do rocketry unless you know some basic  principles of mathematics.

There are, however, lots of ways in which we think that we know better. As Head of North for thirteen years and as Head Counselor for the past thirteen I have often thought that I knew what was best. Something was going on in a bunk and I would sweep in like the good fairy to bring order and understanding. More times than I would like to remember I didn’t even bother to ask the campers what was going on. I always “knew.” Often I was way off. And sometimes I was around the moon.

Times have changed. For the better. Fact is that people really can figure out what is best for them. One of the ways in which people deal with each other at camp is to help folks find out what they really need and how to get it.

Instead of telling a camper what they need, staff is encouraged to ask folks. Instead of assuming what is going on with a camper or a bunk, we try to ask and find out. Often things are different than we thought.

And then, instead of telling someone what they need to do to fix a situation, we help them to find a way themselves. People are given the power to solve their own problems. What a delightful idea!

At Appel Farm we are working to help folks feel that they are able to create solutions for the issues that they face. Of course, it is easier just to tell someone what to do. Of course, it is simpler to have all the answers. But easy and simple is not always easy or simple…or best.

Of course, to give people the opportunity to figure out things for themselves–to help them focus on what they need and how to get it–requires a certain amount of trust. It involves trusting that people are capable of taking the power of their lives into their own hands. It involves trusting that people can indeed find their own answers within themselves and find ways to act upon those answers.

Appel Farm has become a very trusting community, each year more and more trusting. Empowering people is the function of a good teacher and good teaching is what Appel Farm is about. I don’t mean teaching facts or even skills. I mean teaching people how to take charge of their lives. What greater teaching can there be?

So, when it comes to figuring out how to deal with the little things and the bigger things each summer, let’s “grab a crab.”

~Sarvananda