Our summer leadership camp at Fairfield University exposes our students to many new experiences. This July, after a hiatus of a few years, swimming lessons returned as part of our recreation program. For many students, this was their first opportunity to learn how to swim. Our campers went swimming two times each week: once for a formal lesson with an instructor and once for free swim.
As our students approached the pool for their first lesson, nerves were high. Students hung tightly to the pool wall, not even wanting to be splashed, let alone jump in. Needless to say, the morale was not too high after our first lesson. As our Jesuit pillars teach us, though, one must be open to growth, especially when challenged.
Despite those early nerves, the growth our campers experienced in the pool during their three weeks was extraordinary. Students who had never swum before were jumping and splashing in no time. During free swim, students showed off their goggles and impressive pool tricks. Walter, a rising 8th grader, even deemed swimming to be his “favorite part of camp,” just a few weeks after proclaiming that the pool was not a place for him.
The growth our students demonstrated in the pool truly reflects what we aim to teach in East Flatbush. Yes, this was a new experience, one that would frighten many. Still, our students embraced this experience and grew because of their courage. As our school counselor, Ms. Doino stated, “Swimming is one of the most important components of camp because every student learns more about themselves, no matter their skill level.”
Lessons of courage and openness to growth don’t end when the students dry off or even when camp ends. As we return to school, these same lessons apply in the classroom, on the sports field, and throughout our students’ daily lives.