It's normal for parents to worry about our kids. We know how much there is to know, and handle, in OUR lives, so it's easy to get stressed when we even think about our kids getting what they need.
It's no joke, though.
Our kids will grow up, from children and teens into adulthood, and our world is changing fast. It's changing TOO fast, maybe.
It's hard to know exactly what to be prepared for, but one thing that you can count on, is that each of us needs certain skills to be able to navigate the challenges and opportunities that every day life presents to us on any given day.
So, here are my top Ten Skills that every kid needs to develop by the time he or she is an adult, in no particular order.
They are mostly self evident, but I'll offer my reasoning too. Just for fun.
Being Present/Awareness: Being a kid means you spend almost every waking moment being aware and experiencing your surroundings, but as we age, we realize that our culture really doesn't value this human state of consciousness. Then, we spend a lot of time later in life, trying to 'get back into the moment' through yoga and meditation. But what if we never lost our original sensory understanding of our world? What if we learned that it is an incredible tool that sets us up for life, in recognizing danger, opportunity or our own bodies? What if we could learn to tune in to what our higher/deeper/inner self is telling us, so we actually would listen to our intuition and save ourselves a lot of trouble? Yeah, this is pretty important.
Problem Solving/Challenge Crusher: Every single day, we are confronted with something that forces us to grow, get better, solve or work through. We can either move forward, or move away from those hard times. But do we really learn to be AWESOME at solving problems and looking challenges in the eye and saying: "Oh, yeah. I GOT this!" Often, we're forced to solve problems, but we aren't doing it because we WANT to. We're doing it because we HAVE to. Big Difference. Seriously. This skill is pretty much mandatory in creating a good life, especially in this world.
Mental Toughness: Some people think mental toughness means you can be a jerk to everyone, or that you just sort of 'Army Drill Seargent' your way through life. Uh, no. That's not how it works. Mental toughness is about understanding priorities, and about understanding yourself, so you can learn to actually manage your self, in the best way possible, so you can do what you want to do, and be who you want to be. Do you think this is something you can learn? Why, yes. Yes, you can! And yeah, it's way, way up there in importance!!!!!!!!
Communication/Storytelling: When I teach younger children, sometimes, it's hard. Because I like getting to know the kids, but when they try to tell you a story, they go: "One time, in my backyard, no, wait, it was my grandma's backyard, there was this dog. Well, I thought it was a dog, but I couldn't see it too well, and then we went outside, well, no, first we looked out the window, no, wait, it was a screened door, but then we looked out the window later, and then we went outside and it was a squirrel." Honestly, though, kids do get a lot better at telling stories, describing their feelings and thoughts and ideas, and getting over their fears of self expression and worries that people won't understand them. Because if you don't, then, well, you're going to have a long life that is pretty lonely. And a lot of potential that is never realized.
Empathy/Emotionally Connecting: I believe Nature is our first real, independent, intimate relationship, because it's with nature that we can fully just be ourselves, with no worries of rejection or feeling 'not good enough'. When we get big doses of nature when we're young, and maintain that relationship as we grow, it helps instill a sense of connection, of belonging, that is part of our 'Inner Foundation' that helps us feel stable and strong. It also preps us for feeling connected to other people, as our relationships develop, too, through a finely tuned sensitivity, which is an important ingredient in healthy partnerships or friendships. Very important to a successful life. And as a parent, if your child doesn't know how to develop or keep a friendship, you know how hard that is....
Self-Soothing/Stress Management: How does a kid learn to handle his business when he doesn't make the basketball team? What does she do when her BFF throws her under the bus and joins the new 'in' crowd at school? As parents, we all hope that homework doesn't get overwhelming, and that relationships are smooth and supportive, and that our kids don't have the kinds of interactions that can be crushing, but yeah, it's going to happen. That's life. How they handle it will depend on what they learn or have role modeled for them. It's really important to know how to get yourself back on track, in your center, find your mojo, and your 'groove', and take the next step. Get back up on the horse, in the saddle, whatever. I'd say this skill is a lot like Wolverine's healing ability, because when you can stay centered in a hurricane, you can be the Hero, taking action and making decisions, (and not be hiding in the closet with a bag of donuts playing Candy Crush).
Bullshit Detecter/Truthsayer: There is nothing more valuable in this world than the ability to tell when someone is giving you a line of complete hogwash. This one skill, mostly learned through observation of body language and the ability to sense when someone isn't aligned with their own message, is at the core of our human experience, whether it's with a used car salesperson, or your kids homework status, to your boss's rosey economic forecast. Truth and sensing it, is at the core of your foundation, especially when you direct it's unstaring eye right in the mirror, to dispel those powerful lies we tell ourselves, that hamstring our efforts to heal, change, grow or accomplish our goals.
Seeing Patterns and Big Picture: Not everyone has a natural ability to perceive the patterns in the world around us, and how we and others fit into the larger 'dance', if you will. But luckily, this can be learned, and tracking animals on a dynamic landscape is one of the key's in this process. Patterns are woven around us, down to our cellular level, and on a macro level, from the weather to the flow of traffic. When you learn to see the Big Picture, you get that 'Hawk's Eye View' that guides a leader, and that can be priceless in saving time, effort, energy and money.
Creativity and Self Expression: You know, these two are SO FREAKING OBVIOUS that I almost feel bad writing anything here about them. They are so valuable, it's ridiculous. And yes, you can learn them both in nature, in the wilderness, in groups, on teams, on the trail and more. Without creativity, we can't solve anything worth solving. Our kids are going to need this every day of their lives, with the way we are going in terms of climate change, economic shifts and a polarized nation. Let's do this, and make it happen.
A Moral Compass: None of the above skills and abilities will be worth anything if you don't have a sense of right and wrong, and that takes reflection, inner searching and more. In my opinion, the old ways are best. That means spending time in the wilderness, not just nature, learning all kinds of skills and experiencing and 'feeling' on a level that most people have no idea exists. It's about bonding with a greater purpose, and knowing how to listen to that little voice inside your head that tells you whether you're on course or heading away from your heart.
Okay, are you overwhelmed yet? I knew I posted too many 'skills'!
But here's the thing: We have to atleast TRY to get these for our kids, so they can take care of their business in the coming months. We have to handle our own business to be able to help them, too.
It's a tall order, but luckily, we don't need to do this alone. We can do it together. We can work in tandem to help our kids get what they need.
It's the very reason I created Hawk Circle Camp, and I'm very, very serious about the work we do, and making sure we deliver as many of these skills and experiences in our seven days.
Let's do this, and make it happen. These are all doable. We just need to will to bring it to life.